Young Fathers bring a fascinating film series to Filmhouse
Edinburgh trio Young Fathers have curated a vibrant season of knockout films as part of the cinema's ongoing House Guest series
Benjamin Franklin famously suggested that houseguests are like fish: they begin to smell after three days. Filmhouse’s ongoing season, House Guest, has been proving the US founding father wrong. The project sees invited ‘guests’ curate a programme of films that have been important in their life and work. “Our goal is to give an informal platform for practitioners in a wide range of fields, to share with an audience those films that have in some way helped them develop their own artistic vision,” said Rod White, Filmhouse’s head of programming.
Crime writer Ian Rankin kicked off the series with an eclectic line-up of crime movies ranging from noir classic Chinatown to skew-whiff heist comedy That Sinking Feeling. Next to join Filmhouse on curation duty are blistering, genre-hopping trio Young Fathers, who’ve come up with a fascinating and deeply personal programme that will run at Filmhouse throughout November and December.
The Mercury prize-winners say their six films “weren’t chosen to reflect our good taste or to help build the legend of a pop group”. Instead, the Edinburgh band describe this eclectic array of films, which takes in mockumentary, documentary, anime and melodrama, as simply the “images and sounds that have resonated, entertained, connected with us as people. Almost accidentally, they combine to say something about Young Fathers.”
Their run of films kicks off with Privilege (6 Nov, tickets), Peter Watkins' extraordinary 1967 study of celebrity. Set in a future Britain, it follows a tortured young pop idol (played by singer Paul Jones) who’s used as a propaganda tool by the fascist, church-controlled state. The band say they chose the film “not because of the acting, necessarily, or even the script, but because of the look and what the film describes: a snapshot of the power of a stage, an image, a profile. How rebellion is captured and tamed.” They add that Watkins’ nihilistic vision is “one of the most honest films about pop music.”
Privilege is brilliant but rarely screened, and Young Fathers’ programme is peppered with films that are little-seen on the UK rep circuit. We’re particularly keen to see Belgian filmmaker Gerard Corbiau's Baroque epic Farinelli (22 Nov, tickets) on the big screen. This heady and histrionic melodrama chronicles the tragic life of Farinelli, the 18th century's most renowned castrati singer (male vocalists who were castrated before puberty to keep their voices high).
“Art from atrocity is more precious,” says the band in their notes on Farinelli. “A statement we recognise from the pop world: Joy Division at number one on the back of Ian Curtis’ suicide; Bow Wow Wow on Top Of The Pops after some blatant paedophilic PR; Elton John’s remix/rewind as the ‘People’s Princess’ makes her way down the Mall to her grave. Isn’t it natural that the unspoken mutilation that made Farinelli’s ‘pop’ career in the 18th century possible also added the spice to titillate the punter’s palate?”
There’s another music-centred film in the form of British-Nigerian filmmaker Remi Vaughan-Richards’ Faaji Agba (29 Nov, tickets), which follows a group of older singers in Lagos. “It is partly about the influence of Jazzhole Records,” explain Young Fathers, “who uncovered an un-mined seam of unique sounds, created without the normal polite restrictions, exposing layers of self/ humanity in a unique way. Rough and ready is more beautiful than fresh and so clean.”
Young Fathers’ line-up also includes Raoul Peck’s forceful I Am Not Your Negro (16 Nov, tickets), which lets us see James Baldwin’s unsparing and prescient vision of America through his incendiary but humane writing. “Baldwin, who was rock’n’roll, and was rebellion, no longer seems to have been a shocker so much as a seer, whose words talk about now,” says the band. “What, back then, must have seemed like a sci-fi future, now just reads like a documentary description. Is that because Baldwin could really see into the future or because so little has truly changed?”
Also in the programme is Tey (5 Dec, tickets), the 2012 film from French-Senegalese filmmaker Alain Gomis, who’s entrancing new drama Félicité is also released in November and is part of this year's Africa in Motion programme. The band call Tey a film “about death but completely alive”. It follows actor-musician Saul Williams as Satche, an apparently healthy man who wakes one morning in Dakar with the awareness that he will die within 24 hours. The band will be at Filmhouse to introduce this screening.
The season comes to a close with Mamoru Hosoda’s delightful Lycanthropy anime Wolf Children (14 Dec, tickets), a romantic fairy tale that tells the story of a young woman who falls for a mysterious, dark-haired young man, despite the fact he can turn into a wolf. Young Fathers’ describe Hosoda’s beautiful film succintly: “Hard core cute. A series of visual hooks and choruses. Sprinkles...”
The aim of the House Guest series, says Rod White, is “to broaden the audience for artistically serious cinema, while also fostering conversation between film audiences and leading artistic practitioners in Scotland.” You can join this lively conversation from 6 Nov to 14 Dec with Young Fathers’ rich and thought-provoking programme.
Young Fathers: House Guest runs at Filmhouse on various dates from 6 Nov to 14 Dec. More details at filmhousecinema.com