Art Screen, the BBC's new arts documentary festival for Glasgow

The BBC's Lindsey Hanlon gives us the lowdown on the just-announed programme of a new arts documentary festival coming to the Glasgow Film Theatre and the Centre for Contemporary Arts as part of Glasgow International in April - Art Screen

Article by News Team | 19 Mar 2014

Next month, the BBC will be launching a new festival in Glasgow as part of Glasgow International, the city's biennial festival of the arts. Showcasing arts documentaries from around the world, and featuring some celebrated pioneers in the field of the arts, Art Screen will be taking over the Glasgow Film Theatre and the Centre for Contemporary Arts from 10-13 April with a programme of screenings, events and discussions. The featured films focus on leading practitioners from the fields of visual arts, architecture, music and photography, and include many rare films and first viewings. The full programme has been revealed today.

Lindsey Hanlon, a member of the BBC production team behind the inaugural Art Screen, spoke exclusively to The Skinny to tell us about the festival's scope and ambitions. "What we want to achieve with Art Screen is to offer audiences a means to discover and explore the arts on screen, covering new artists and art forms they might not have experienced," she says. "That's the opportunity that documentaries offer – to discover new worlds that might never have been explored before."

Jonty Claypole, head of arts for BBC Productions, has said he hopes Art Screen will be "a place for audiences, artists and filmmakers alike to be inspired by a selection of some of the best arts documentaries from around the world." A strand called Arts in the Archive will explore the huge number of arts documentaries created over the years by the BBC, with screenings and archive footage available at the CCA throughout the festival. 

Lindsey Hanlon says that the Arts in the Archive strand is an important part of Art Screen's programme. "For us, it's an opportunity to present a highly eclectic selection of fantastic arts programmes from BBC history," she says. "We can't wait to bring this largely unseen and somewhat hidden footage out into the public, and give the audiences a chance to experience it for the first time, or perhaps relive watching it the first time it was broadcast." 

Arts in the Archive runs from 11-13 April at the CCA from 11am to 6pm. Some highlights include a screening on 11 April of Arena: My Way, a 1979 investigation into the enduring legacy of Paul Anka’s hit song, covered by artists like Frank Sinatra, Shirley Bassey, and Sid Vicious; and director Michael Gill's Francis Bacon, Fragments Of A Portrait from 1966, in which the artist gives a rare interview from his London studio (also 11 April). Elsewhere, J.R.R. Tolkien discusses his epic fantasy creations in a 1968 documentary on 12 April; on the same day, there's a chance to watch Jarvis Cocker's portrait of Jeremy Deller from 2012.

There are also films about Guy Bourdain, Otis Redding, Vivian Maier and Sarah Lucas, and films directed by Ken Russell, John Read and others. There are two discussion events on 11 April, includig a far-ranging panel debate looking at 'The Art of the Arts Documentary' chaired by Kirsty Wark, with Jeremy Deller, Ian Forsyth, Jane Pollard, Tim Marlow and Andrew Graham-Dixon in attendance; and a masterclass with Forsyth and Pollard on the same day looking at their documentary-fiction hybrid 20,000 Days on Earth 

Benjamin Cook, director of LUX, will also chair a discussion between artists Torsten Lauschmann, Kathryn Elkin and Stephen Sutcliffe, all of whom are engaged in a residency created by LUX and BBC Arts, supported by Creative Scotland's Creative Futures programme, which offers six artists unprecedented access to the BBC's archives. There will also be a nightly party in the CCA's bar featuring music from special Art Screen guests, including, on 12 April, a live collaboration between Torsten Lauschmann and Optimo's J.G. Wilkes, combining music and video.

Away from the CCA, the Glasgow Film Theatre will be offering a programme of screenings, also running from 11-13 April. One of the highlights announced today is the first showing of Our Glasgow, a documentary produced by Frieze magazine co-editor Jennifer Higgie celebrating Glasgow's vibrant and dynamic cultural life; from the celebrated Arts and Crafts movement which – amongst other achievements – sparked the famous Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed Glasgow School of Art. The screening, on 12 April, will be followed by a discussion of the reasons for Glasgow's diverse portfolio of cultural success stories over the years. 

"Glasgow is a place of extraordinary creative strength – BBC Arts has a base there, as well as in London and Bristol. It's one of our centres for excellence for art programming," says Hanlon. "Scotland, too, is a place of extraordinary creativity. So this was a fantastic opportunity to bring these arts documentaries to audiences in Glasgow, given that it's a city that's renowned for its interest in, and support of the arts."

There will also be a premiere of Louise Lockwood's new BBC documentary Facing Up to Mackintosh on 13 April, taking a look at the architectural challenge of creating Glasgow School of Art's new Reid Hall building (pictured) opposite a celebrated Mackintosh creation. "Charles Rennie Mackintosh is such an incredibly significant figure within the canon of 20th century architecture and design," says Hanlon. "He is possibly one of the most famous architects to have emerged in that period. The new Reid Hall building at the GSA is a huge step, in terms of Glasgow's architecture, and it's a fantastic new chapter for the Art School. The film weaves the responses of four young GSA graduates into the fabric of the narrative, which makes it a very organic exploration of what it is to build a place in which people can work, design and create."

Other highlights of the programme at the GFT include documentaries on artist Gregory Crewdson (13 April) and musician Marvin Hamlisch (13 April); the UK premiere of a film about photographer Nan Goldin (13 April); and Kim Longinotto's Salma, which tells the story of a famous Tamil poet who came from a background of censorship and oppression (13 April). The poet Salma herself and Longinotto will be around for a Q&A after the screening. Martin Scorcese's 1974 documentary debut Italianamerican (12 April) gets a well-deserved airing; as does Jarvis Cocker and Martin Wallace's The Big Melt, which pays tribute to the legacy of Sheffield's steelworkers (11 April).

An interview with GI Director Sarah McCrory


Art Screen, 10-13 Apr, at the Glasgow Film Theatre and the Centre for Contemporary Arts. Check listings for times and prices