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And the prize for most remote screening of Bata-ville so far goes to...

...the enterprising Oxen Park Cinema Club, started by a group of cinephiles in a remote hamlet here in my adopted homeland, the Lake District.

I have screened a short with them before and this time was invited to screen Bata-ville with a Q & A session afterwards, in the same remote church hall that Grizedale Arts had hosted a memorable evening with the venerable Ken Russell last summer. After Lisa and I had sat outside the wrong venue for 15 minutes chatting, I powered up my laptop and discovered in fact we were meant to be at an even more remote church hall - with 10 minute to go!
The rain was streaking down but by driving at 80 mph down country tracks (a speciality of mine), and ringing up Adam for directions from home (knowing that noone at the church hall would be getting a mobile signal) we made it - just in time to prevent the waiting audience from watching the lamentable directors interview on the DVD to fill time.

The dozen or so people there were most forgiving, and presented me with a lovely framed film poster they had made for the event - which was really touching. As I have watched the film countless times, I snuck back through the mire to my car for 90 minutes, passing the time on my laptop and feeling strangely moved that here I was in the middle of nowhere, with an audience for my film that outnumbered many we have had in cities. Next time I feel despondant and cut off out here in the sticks I must remember Oxen Park Cinema Club, and the energy and dedication of its members.

To continue the charideeee theme from Nina (below) - the Club is also hosting a further Bata-ville screening to raise money for the Coniston Water Festival (in which Nina and I did another of our Knock Out performances)
It's at the John Ruskin School in Coniston on Thurs. April 13th at 8pm, where we'll also be joined by a group of Czech orienteers who are staying at the school - giving us another dimension no doubt (and some better beer?!) to the Q & A at the end....

A postcard from Zlin apparently from the communist era
as it's overprinted with the name Gottwaldov c/o Felix Ormerod

All for Charity ...

I'm not sure I need to plug it here as Mike is already doing a great job of selling tickets, but there's a Thurrock screening of Bata-ville coming up:

Thameside Theatre,Grays, Thurrock Essex
Monday the 10th of April 2006 at 7.45pm
Tickets £3 (concessions £2) Box Office 01375 383961
This is a charity screening presented by Thurrock Heritage Forum in support of
Bata Reminiscence & Resource Centre
Free tickets for any Bata-ville passengers attending!

In addition Karen's also hosting a charity northern screening this week with
Oxen Park Cinema Club.

Bata related items including a fantastic 3D viewer
c/o Felix Ormerod

Terror Hound of Bata-ville

Back home and back to Bata-ville (as the Thurrock Gazette is now apparently calling East Tilbury, in last week's headline "Terror Hound of Bata-ville"). Last Saturday was the Bata Resource and Reminiscence Centre open day where I joined Bata-ville old comrades (as 'uncle' Mike Ostler calls them) for a get together.

As usual Fred had lots of new material to show me, but not as much as our new Bata-ville friend Felix (as mentioned in the previous open day entry) the collection pictured opposite is a fraction of the items acquired since we last saw him (!) The viewmaster 3D images of Zlin were particularly good.

There was also a stall in the library run by Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation, which was very interesting. Not least as they confrimed that no actual plans have been passed for East Tilbury as yet and any that one sees or hears about are in effect just proposed bids from different developers. The final detailed master plan for East Tilbury is yet to actually be drawn up.

Summercamp! showed at the beautiful Paramount
One of Austin's collection of unique cinemas

Summercamp! & Kentwell

We wrapped up our SXSW stay with one of our festival highlights Summercamp! (which sadly I can't track down a website for, as it had a lovely animated credits sequence I was hoping to see on the web). The directors Bradley Beesley & Sarah Price are obviously friends of SXSW, and had apparently run a development session about the film at a previous conference - which sounded interesting.

Anyway they and the film received a warm reception, including the rather goofy intro they did leading the audience in a camp song! The film is really nicely shot, and you feel very close to both nature and the kids portrayed. I won't give the plot away but let's just say of the 100 kids there they picked two of the best to follow - especially the heart breakingly quirky Holy Stevenson.

We were especially interested in the film as it's obviously a 'walled city' doc in the same way as our film about Kentwell will be - or indeed as the Bata-ville bus was. At the final Q&A we were all ears for how they'd dealt with parental consent (97/100 kids parents agreed) working with the camp hosts etc. Anyway an enjoyable film - if it makes it to the UK go along and transport yourself back to cubs/brownies.

Sadly our day went rather down hill once we departed on a delayed flight from Austin, I won't bore you with the details but let's just say American Airlines will not be the future Somewhere airline of choice. We eventually managed to crawl back to London via Chicago & Manchester just in time to unpack our Tudor costumes for the first Kentwell open day.

This is where everyone who wants to attend this years main re-creation event has to go along to Kentwell for the day and queue! For lunch, costume checks, Tudor nicknacks, and the infamous interviews with Patrick - head of the 21st century Kentwell Hall. These interviews dictate both your acceptance and your role - and no one is excused - hence our decision to detour to Manchester rather than miss the event.

So we made it, and it was fun to see everyone we met last year ... Somewhere is still on schedule to shoot the crazy 'Kentwell Summercamp!' that is the Tudor re-creation.

Our Somewhere @ SXSW film festival snaps are now available for the curious in the background section of the site.

Please don't make us sing the Summercamp! song ...

Sushi Austin style
As usual keeping it weird

Sad to leave SXSW

Our last day in Austin, and sadly we won't even be able to introduce our second screening today as we have to head out to the airport. For those still in town it's 4.30 at the Dobie theatre - "Bata-ville: We're not afraid of the future".

We've had a great time here and hope to return with Sometime Later in a year (or two!). Maybe more on the Blog front later (the experience of watching the Beastie Boys film last night with their huge fan base certainly merits comment) but for now off to catch the last movie on our list: Summercamp! and handing over the hotel keys to the Japanese music crowd ...

Darkon bling
Can it buy me a movie distribution deal?

'Darkon' bling

Apparently our fave movie to date 'Darkon' won the best documentary feature audience prize last night so big congrats to them. We have met a few of this tenacious team , who hung out with a group of Baltimore fantasy role players for over a year to make the movie. The DoP, unusually, a woman, said hi at the screening and I have to say her work in the film is one of its most memorable aspects..... The Darkon players themselves have a few of their number here at the festival, and though apparently contentious with some of their group, they seem to be taking a huge pride in the film. The 'president' of Darkon gave me this momento - the currency of Darkon - but how many margaritas can it buy?!

..or should I say 'Bannor'?

Waiting for a cab early evening

First screening

I always feel really nervous and actually sometimes rather sad when I have to sit through a screening of the film with an audience. No matter how hard you try you are continually distracted by anyone who moves or looks uncomfortable or worse still leaves (!) even though in most cases here they're just going to the loo due to the amount of enormous drinks (not to mention food) consummed during screenings!

Yesterday morning pre-screening I was beginning to feel a little like I'd been back on the Bata-ville bus, the combination of parties and jetlag is reproducing the eye-bag and blisters combo I've previously only experienced on the trip. We had a pretty good audience turn out and they seemed to laugh in all the right places - although how much of the Maryport dialogue came across remains a mystery. It was quite odd to watch something we've made so intimately with people from Britain in the US ... it makes you really aware of how specific to Britain but more importantly the current regeneration climate in Britain the film is. I found myself trying to imagine watching something about a village in Texas and how I'd see that. It somehow felt more anthropological than when I've seen it with a UK audience ... where there's always a real intimacy with the film and the characters. I'm certainly not saying that the audience didn't enjoy it or find it interesting but it did maybe feel less intimate.

That said Lya from the festival has been such a fan of the project that it has obviously touched her in some way that can cross a UK/US divide ... hopefully we'll get to catch her again before we leave as now we've seen it here there are lots more questions I'd like to ask her about how it comes across away from 'home'.

Straight afterwards we went into a screening of Danielson: a Family Movie and I felt a palpable sense of relaxing into the film and enjoying someone else's hard work! It's a hard won film made from 4 years of footage following the fascinating Danielson Family ... I actually can't wait to get back and do some more surfing on the film's site but also Danielson's own site - hand crafted artworks as well as songs. The director is our new festival friend and we talked most of the evening until Sleater Kinney cut through all conversation with an impressively wild set.

We've found the thrift stores

Pre-screening yesterday we caught the free (yes even public transport seems to be free in 'easy' Austin) tram down to SOCO (?) and hit the goldmine of thrift and fancy dress stores as well as a mexian brunch ... Animal masks apparently a speciality.

Austin Convention Centre

Helping to keep Austin Weird ...

“Keep Austin Weird” apparently the city’s by-line and a damn sight more inspiring than the usual “Cumbernauld – better than you might have expected” style catch-phrase towns in the UK are often lumbered with.
Yesterday we did our bit to live up to the challenge and it certainly paid dividends – if you want to promote your film here make friends and meet people I can’t recommend dressing up in a uniform highly enough!
We began yesterdays tour of town with the fantastic Darkon screening (hopefully more of which with more time) which we managed to squeeze into, sadly having to miss the very end to head out of town for a slightly surreal interview on the Austin Movie Show (hence the outfits).
Then it was back to town via Kinkos (unbelievably we seem to be the only people who could come to SXSW without thinking to bring a poster!) and into the plexi-glass SXSW studio at the convention centre. Here, we were interviewed by the totally delightful Lya who has been somewhat of a champion for our film, her relaxed style and sheer enthusiasm made the interview a breeze.
Thinking we’d pop straight out for a much needed drink then head back to change, we began the nights party trawl. Kindly chaperoned by the charming Michael Saleman (hot off the apparently sell out legal panel!) we then drifted on for the rest of the night from one party to the next ending up at the Austin Chronicle event, bemused and almost hoarse from the amount of shouting we’d been doing in response to an endless stream of what felt like genuine interest into what we’re doing here and why the hell we were still dressed up as “air hostesses”!
What’s amazing to me is that in the massive crowds here it is possible to meet the people who run the festival (I put faces to the whole crew I already knew from email yesterday) but also the people who’ve made the films you really want to see. On the N&K wish list we had Darkon, Summercamp! & Danielson: A Family movie … last night we managed to meet the team/directors of all of them … only Lifelike to go! As a bonus we also had an interesting chat to one of the directors of Cruel and Unusual, like many of the other Directors here about our age she works as part of a collaboration working together in a way that maybe undoes some of the pre-conceptions people might have of the lone auteur/director behind most movies.
Anyway we had a fantastic time last night talking not just about films, but Austin and US/UK culture. If this is Austin Weird … Bata-ville likes you this way.


these are the delgates bags just for the music section!

Rock on Darkon

Well it feels like we're getting into the swing of SXSW and Austin now ... but it is big and somewhat impersonal feeling compared to Edinburgh. Everything related to SXSW seems to be packed (queues for parties etc.) whilst generally the streets of Austin seem to be rather oddly deserted, save for flocks of strange black birds roosting in the trees at night, making some otherworldly noises.
Spent most of yesterday in a glut of docs. related panels, 'influential' doc commissioner spotting!
In the evening we went to check out the Dobie cinema where our screening is tomorrow, then post curry (the staple somewhere meal) we headed for the Darkon party.
Obviously we are pretty interested in Darkon so in an uncharacteristic way (for someone British) Karen just went straight for it and asked the SXSW staff to point the crew out, so we had a really interesting chat with Brad the film's editor (unless he was also a very good role player!) obviously a man of great patience judging by how long the edit apparantly took.
We also got to meet the 'president' of Darkon himself, which made for a really interesting comparitive chat about UK vs US re-enactment scenes.
So all in all a good night ... I just hope we can get in to actually see Darkon today ... we're going to look pretty odd in the queue as we'll be wearing our uniform from Bata-ville ready for our Studio SX session straight afterwards!

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