Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tempus Fu**it: Filmcentre Europe

The idea, back in 1968, was alarmingly innovative. Yes, Filmcentre Europe was to be a television magazine series aimed at a sophisticated American audience who at the time were flocking to the nation's over 600 art houses, showing cinema mostly of European origin.

But the individual reportage segments were also intended for distribution as short subjects which would be part of the program in said art house cinemas.

For the pilot production the chosen theme was the changing role of women in the European cinema, where women were no longer just acting but also producing and directing. Not a bad choice, for two reasons. Firstly, one explanation of the appeal of foreign movies in the United States was the more liberal approach to sexuality. Secondly, what better excuse could I have for meeting incredibly interesting and beautiful girls?

I think I picked quite well...

1. Jane Fonda needs no introduction. But a future post in this ‘Tempus Fu**it’ category will tell tales going back even further, to my first encounter with the lady in 1960!

2. Macha Merril, after dabbling as a producer, returned to acting and has been credited with 139 screen roles in the past forty years. She threw her support behind Ségolène Royal for last year’s French elections.

3. Joanna Shimkus is married to Sir Sydney Poitier since retiring from acting in the seventies.

4. Anita Pallenberg appeared in only a dozen films across the forty years, but her status as Mrs Keith Richards has resulted in the fact that several actresses have played her in film and television productions.

5. Jane Birkin, often enough mentioned by the ever-loyal fan who writes this blog, has surprised me in many ways, above all by turning into a handbag!

6. Susannah York was Oscar nominated for her role in They Shoot Horses, Don't They, won Best Actress in Cannes for her performance in Robert Atmann's Images, and still works.

7. May Spils is not credited as director since the mid-eighties and her 1968 Zur Sache Schätzchen! may have been her career high-point already. But it was nevertheless a film which helped to revolutionize German cinema. Including her in the show gave me an excuse to visit Munich for the first time.

8. Jean Seberg died in 1979, after starring in 39 films, none of which was more important, in my view, than Godard's Breathless.

Filmcentre Europe never became a series, and the pilot vanished into the vault of a laboratory who may possibly still be waiting for an overdue final payment. I do, however, have about two feet of single-perforation 16mm reversal print from the main title sequence which I should probably consign to the garbage (along with the crumpled cigarette pack I blogged about yesterday!).

I fortunately had a follow-up assignment, producing a half-hour musical video for a German television channel. The working title when the project was announced was Child Of The Future and it would feature a relatively unknown singetr-songwriter, David Bowie...

1 comment:

nzm said...

Mac: if you ever write your memoirs, put me down for a copy. You have lived in a golden age!