Producer Sol Papadopoulos, Director Terence Davies and Producer Roy Boulter on the red carpet at Cannes _320
LIVERPOOL-BORN director Terence Davies’s new film about his home city is taking the Cannes Film Festival by storm after receiving rave reviews from the assembled world’s press out there.
Of Time and The City, which received its world premiere last night, is being acclaimed as a masterpiece after a star-studded red carpet ceremony last night in the French resort.
“This is a big coup, fantastic, because this beautiful, very moving, film is absolutely all about Liverpool,” said Alice Morrison, chief executive of Northwest Vision and Media (NWVM). “It resonates with everything about the city and its people and is especially exciting because this is happening in the Capital of Culture Year.”
NWVM produced the film as part of its Digital Departures initiative, a competitive scheme coordinated with the culture company, the UK Film Council and the BBC, which has supported three feature projects filmed in Liverpool for 2008. The other two are Salvage and Starstruck, both of which are being promoted at the festival.
But Davies’s 72-minute film, which has been produced by Liverpool company Hurricane Films, based on Hope Street, has already been snapped up for UK distribution by the British Film Institute (BFI) with international sales being handled by HanWay Films.
The BFI’s head of Content Development, Jane Giles, said last night: “The BFI has had a long and fruitful relationship with Terence Davies. His work is pure cinematic poetry.”
The film is a deeply personal evocation by Davies of his life growing up as a Liverpudlian in the 50s and 60s using gritty documentary footage supplemented by his own commentary voiceovers and appropriate musical soundtracks. The 62-year-old is renowned for his autobiographical works of Liverpool times past, the films Distant Voices, Still Lives and its sequel The Long Day Closes having already won global acclaim.
His latest, although it is not in competition, is one of a handful of films chosen by the Cannes judges for a prestigious Special Screening and one of only two British films chosen for the whole festival. The other is Hunger, Steve McQueen’s dramatisation of the last days of the IRA’s Bobby Sands.
Following its Cannes screening, Of Time And The City heads for the Edinburgh Film Festival before a Liverpool premiere scheduled for October.
What the Cannes critics say
THE one truly great movie to emerge so far (from Cannes) has been Terence Davies’s Of Time and the City; it’s not only this writer who considers it some kind of masterpiece... this film is as personal, as universal in its relevance, and as gloriously cinematic as anything he has done.
Davies's film is made of old documentary footage, brilliantly illuminated by music and his commentary. It intertwines Davies' own story with the story of the redevelopment of his home town of Liverpool. It pivots around a sequence that shows utopian tower blocks being built and then falling into decay, to the tune of Peggy Lee singing The Folks That Live on the Hill. It's an elegant, angry sequence that tells a story recognisable to anyone who grew up in a city after the war.
For my money, this is a British masterpiece, a brilliant assemblage of images that illuminate our past. Not only does it tug the heart-strings but it's also savagely funny.
There’s a similarity of tone to James Mason’s narration in the 1967 film The London Nobody Knows, another portrait of a changing city that would make a rewarding double bill with this regret-filled love letter to Liverpool.