Tuesday night (29-09-09) saw Black Country Cinema unveil its style of video poetry at the Light House Media Centre in Wolverhampton. It has been a fairly long build up seeing as our first meeting with Peter McLuskie regarding the Screen Forum event was over a month and a half ago. However this didn’t stop their being a race to organise everything for the event, promote it and prepare for our first audience. Even the drive to the venue was frantic through all that Wednesbury traffic, but I digress (slightly).
We were stationed in the upstairs cinema, which was perfect for an intimate first screening. The turnout was better than expected, but we still wondered whether the people came expecting a night of short films rather than video poetry. We managed to knock up some questionnaires for the audience, and I even managed to pop out to the 99p store to pick up a pack of pens. This was all in aid of gaining a documented response to our work.
Anyway, the event got well underway as Peter welcomed everyone and handed over to Andy who gave a well rounded introductory speech. Matt followed on and spoke in more depth about the type of videos the audience was about to see. At this time I was still running around handing out pens to the late comers. Needless to say (though I will anyway) the lights dimmed, the curtains opened and the video poems began to role.
As the last video played, and the curtains closed, we assembled ourselves at the front of the cinema ready to be grilled by members of the audience and Screen WMs’ Anthony Hughes. Now the moment I will never forget is when Anthony pointed out to the gentleman at the back with white hair who had immediately put his hand up. His comments were on ‘the appalling use of language in some of the films.’ Brilliant, just what I was hoping for, the audience had an opinion. My fear was that at the moment Anthony opened up the floor for questions, there would be a long silence followed by a few coughs and maybe a novelty mobile phone jingle. The comments and questions continued to poor in and, in a small way, I think we all felt a sense of achievement.
After the Q&A we screened some archive films kindly given to us by MACE which finished the event off perfectly. I think the best moment for all of us though, was when our previous lecturer Adam Kossoff walked up to us at the end of the screening and said ‘well done, I’m proud of you’.
As we gathered with a few members of the audience for a drink downstairs at the bar, we decided to head for some grub and look over the questionnaires we received back. The comments were honest, respectable and definitely a good read. There were only two questions asked, ‘Did any of the video poems stand out to you?’ and ‘What is your opinion on what Black Country Cinema is doing?’ – While people’s opinions varied on which video poem stood out to them, the general consensus was that they were ‘thought provoking’ and ‘evocative.’ Two audience members left these final comments which stood out to us –
‘I think what you are doing is highly worthwhile’
‘I think this could become a movement in the Mids’
I would just like to finish off by thanking Peter McLuskie and the Light House as well as Anthony Hughes from Screen WM and M.A.C.E (Media Archive for Central England) who made the event possible and enjoyable.
Many British shorts have been mocked for their obvious punch lines and 'inside the box' shooting methods. Short film festivals in Britain are full of films that lose their value after the first view and often require little or no participation from the audience. I like to think that not everyone has this view (yes I am British) and that not all British filmmakers think within the confined walls of 'blockbusterism' (yes I am a filmmaker). To help battle the tides of ‘anti-British’ short film lovers and prove that we DO have something unique to say with our moving images, the Black Country Cinema movement will be exhibiting a series of short films dedicated to the poetry of everyday life. The event will be taking place in Wolverhampton, (UK) at the Light House Media Centre 29th September 2009 at 19:00. Admission is free. Details below:
This evening’s forum will showcase the first edition of Black Country Cinema’s Video Poems with themes ranging from the anxieties of having a recession proof job in the Black Country, to a man’s relationship with his hometown Wednesbury. The screening will include archive films from the Black Country.
Black Country Cinema was founded in early 2009 by a growing community of artists/poets who describe their work as ‘personal, instinctual & organic video poetry of everyday life’. Their influences include the Japanese silent filmmaker/director Shimizu Hiroshi and Iranian director, screenwriter & producer Abbas Kiarostami. There will be an introduction and Q&A by the artists/poets and an opportunity to find out more about the group and how to get involved.
Screen Forum is a regular meeting of practitioners and agencies who are involved in screen based creative industries within the region. The aim of the forum is to showcase quality work in the region and to facilitate networking, collaboration and the sharing of information and resources.
Admission free. For more info visit: blackcountrycinema.wordpress.com. To reserve a place contact Steph on e: firstname.lastname@example.org or t: 01902 716055