10 things to do this week in Bristol, April 1-7

1 04 2013

Monday: Gloucester Road WI Tea Party
Featuring handmade treats served in a member’s Bishopston home, raising money for a cookbook with recipes from independent businesses.

Tuesday: La Roux, Fleece
Bristol is one of only three special warm-up shows for La Roux, their first live dates in almost two years as they gear up to make a return at the Coachella festival.

Tuesday-Saturday: The Bloody Ballad, Bristol Old Vic
“The Brothers Grimm meet Quentin Tarantino in this brutal love story set around Memorial Day celebrations in 1950s America”, with live rockabilly soundtrack.

Thursday-Saturday: A Night With The Flavour Smith, secret location
The Flavour Smith is former Riverstation head chef Tom Green, who is hosting his debut pop-up restaurant for three nights in a “secret medieval location” in the city centre.

Thursday-Sunday: Give Me Back My Broken Night
“A theatrical guided tour, not of the historic past, but of the future of your city”, presented by FUEL, Uninvited Guests and Circumstance within Bristol Temple Quarter.

Friday-Sunday: Beef + Beer, 40 Alfred Place
With steaks and burgers from Chomp featuring the finest dry aged beef from Angus and Hereford crosses, and beer from rising star Bristol brewery Wiper & True.

Friday: Mocha Focha Presents Backbeat Soundsystem, Attic
“Good vibes and coffee appreciation” in a special club night from Bristol’s festival espresso van, with a lineup including Backbeat Sound System, Dub Boy and Tenja.

Saturday: Emile Sandé, Colston Hall
She was everywhere last year during the Olympics, and now the Scottish chanteuse with the “weapons grade voice” (New York Times) is here in Bristol.

Saturday & Sunday: Tempting Failure, The Island
Performances, artworks, actions, noise-works, video-works, provocations and installations make up this “immersive experience of live art and noise”.

Sunday: Battle of Algiers, Watershed
The tale of Algeria’s epic battle for independence, with music by Ennio Morricone – chosen by Goldfrapp’s Will Gregory as one of his most influential film scores.

Film, music and theatre as part of Filmic 2013 and the inaugural Bristol Proms

13 03 2013

Filmic is now in full swing in Bristol, with Watershed and St George’s joining forces for three months of film, music, talks and special events featuring composer Philip Glass, Goldfrapp’s Will Gregory, PJ Harvey collaborator John Parish, Jesus and Mary Chain’s Douglas Hart, Portishead’s Geoff Barrow and BBC ‘Life of…’ composer Ben Salisbury.

Once that is over, the action will turn to the Bristol Old Vic in July for the inaugural Bristol Proms, “a radical reinvention of the classical concert experience”, another collaboration with Watershed and also Universal Music Arts & Entertainment.

World-class classical musicians such as the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra and violinist Nicola Benedetti will work with digital artists seeing house music played on the cello and a piano recital filmed from dozens of angles, in an event that will culminate with Handel’s Messiah directed by Old Vic artistic director Tom Morris with the Southbank Sinfonia.

Every Good Boy Deserves Favour - Tom Morris at National Theatre

Watershed print final monthly brochure

27 02 2013

A monthly treat for Bristol film fans will be no more as the Watershed’s printed brochure reaches the end of its 30-year life. “We have finally concluded that the brochure has become a luxury none of us can afford,” writes Watershed head of communications Louise Gardner in the March 2013 brochure.

Gardner writes that the significant resources the brochure takes up can better be used “in a more sustainable, smarter way elsewhere”, with the brochure no longer serving its original purpose.

Since September 2010 when the Watershed moved to flexible screening times, the brochure has not included a calendar of what’s on when, and after three years of consultation the conclusion is that customers now find out film times online, at the box office or in the weekly printed listings guide.

The demise of the Watershed brochure is yet another death knell for the printed word in Bristol, but salvation could be on the horizon with the news that The Bristolian will be back on the streets next week.

Watershed March 2013 brochure

Total Permission premieres at Watershed

4 12 2012

At the end of a year where the disabled have been thrust into the national and international spotlight like never before thanks to the success of the London Paralympics, a short documentary film focussing on the artistic endeavours of disabled people has received its theatrical premiere at Watershed.

Exec produced by Watershed’s managing director Dick Penny and directed by Bristol filmmaker John Durrant, Total Permission follows conductor Charles Hazlewood, founder of the British Paraorchestra, as he encounters 12 artists commissioned by Unlimited, a strand of the London 2012 Festival.

As part of Unlimited, deaf and disabled artists were encouraged to take risks, and the film presents tantalising snippets of the astonishing variety of work that they produced.

These are not artists with a disability, but artists in their own right. Yet there is no doubt that their disability impacts and informs their work, from a huge blow-up model of a Thalidomide-ravaged martial art fighter, to a dance company incorporating sign language in their performance, and another artist dancing with her crutches.

A comedian in a wheelchair is like Dom Joly in Trigger Happy TV when he congratulates able-bodied people for being so inspiring walking down stairs or running down the street, while a beautiful few minutes are spent in the Red Sea among coral reefs with Sue Austin in her underwater wheelchair (below).

“The creators of these performances,” says Penny, “are not ‘superhumans’ but simply artists like any other, who are rarely given the attention of their non-disabled peers.”

Total Permission - Sue Austin underwater wheelchair

Click here to watch Total Permission on The Space.

This week in Bristol, December 3-9

3 12 2012

Monday: Total Permission, Watershed
The premiere of a documentary directed by Bristol-based John Durrant about projects from deaf and disabled artists as part of the Cultural Olympiad.

Tuesday: Christmas With LEDs On, At-Bristol
The first in a new series of adult-only evening events in At-Bristol, with a chance to explore the exhibits and join in with some Christmas-themed live science shows.

Tuesday – December 15: Yes, We Have No Bananas; Brewery Theatre
Based on oral histories from those who lived during the war years, the action takes place in a grocery shop in Weymouth during the lead up to D-Day.

Wednesday – January 13: Hansel & Gretel, Tobacco Factory Theatre
The Brothers Grimm story in a family-friendly producton from New International Encounter, with a mix of live music, clowning, humour, language and storytelling.

Thursday: Vive La Tour & Breaking Away, Mud Dock Deli
The first of a monthly series of bike-themed film nights at Mud Dock Deli on the first Thursday of the month; with a beer, pizza and two classic cycling films for £10.

Friday: Ellie Goulding, Bristol Academy
The Hereford-born singer-songwriter has left her folk stylings behind for second album Halcyon, which showcases a a more electro-pop infused sound.

Friday: Bristol Palestine Film Festival
This year’s festival focuses in on four villages in the West Bank, provides the opportunity to try free running and features speakers including Ken Loach.

Friday – December 21: Death & Treason, Rhyme & Reason; Bristol Old Vic
A night of childhood memories and adult interpretations which “explores the dark and debauched secrets of our most familiar childhood rhymes”.

Saturday: Fatboy Slim, Motion
Following Public Enemy and Annie Mac last month, the latest In:Motion presents Norman Cook, Mr Zoe Ball and one of the original superstar DJs.

Saturday: The Quarrymen, Thunderbolt
A gig featuring the original members of the skiffle band formed in 1956 at Quarry Bank School in Liverpool by John Lennon which became another band called the Beatles.

Afrika Eye Film Festival opens today

9 11 2012

The Afrika Eye Film Festival opens today at Watershed. This year, the two strands of Bristol’s annual celebration of African films are ‘Jamaica at 50’, guest curated by renowned artist of Jamaican heritage, Graeme Evelynand, and ‘Healing in Africa’.

A partnership with WOMAD Foundation will see young people’s workshops in music, dance, visual arts and mask making, while Pervasive Media Studios will host a seminar exploring the potential of digital film making and distribution in Africa, connecting with and discussing interactivity possibilities with Nairobi.

The festival’s healing strand sees two films looking at trauma healing in the war scarred Democratic Republic of Congo.


Bristol Playable City award launched

24 10 2012

Bristol is already a Playable City. Just think of 2.8 Hours Later, which has seen hoards of zombies chase participants through the streets during igfest, or the giant inflatable lifesize bouncy Stonehenge from Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller which appeared on College Green for one weekend in August.

In 2013, we are to officially become a Playable City thanks to a new £30,000 award, the first international award from the Watershed, which will lie at “the intersections of art, technology and culture… pushing the boundaries and encouraging experimentation”.

The award is a challenge to harness creative technologies in surprising and engaging ways.

The £30,000 will create a new work which will be installed in a public space in Bristol next summer before with the aim of then touring whatever is created internationally.

Watershed’s Clare Reddington admits that the definition of a playable city is one which is still unknown, saying that this award is part of their exploration to find out.

In this blog, Clare writes: “We are imagining a Playable City as a counterpoint to a Smart City (where technology is all about infrastructure, services and monitoring). We think people, hospitality and openness will be key – a playable city is a place where residents and visitors have permission to reconfigure and rewrite places, attractions and stories.

“And where better than Bristol to investigate this theme? From street art to street games, in the last five years our city has put itself on the map for its playful approach to public spaces, inviting residents and visitors to get engaged with the city and its creative and cultural future.”

One of the Playable City Award judges is musician Imogen Heap, who often performs live with a glove developed  by academics at UWE through which using hand gestures she can control acoustic instruments and her voice, play virtual instruments and manipulate these sounds on stage in front of a fascinated audience.

She says: “I’ve visited Bristol more than most cities as I’ve been collaborating with a few of its many bright minds.

“(Bristol is) a wonderful city that continues to nurture and champion creativity in art and tech.

“I’m delighted to be one of the judges for Bristol’s Playable City Award and can’t wait to see what emerges.”

For more information, visit www.watershed.co.uk/playablecity.

The award is supported and sponsored by a whole host of Bristol-based creative technology companies: Aardman, BDH, HP Labs, IBM, IMDB, The Bristol SETsquared Centre, Sift, Team Rubber, Thirty Three, TLT LLP, Toshiba, University of Bristol, University of the West of England and Bristol City Council; and produced by Watershed with support from Arts Council England.

My Bristol favourites: Gavin Strange

21 10 2012

Gavin Strange is a designer who by day works in the digital department of Aardman Animations and by night goes under the alias JamFactory. He is also an evangelist for fixed gear bicycles, and earlier this year directed a documentary short called Boikzmoind about the Bristol fixed gear scene.

On Saturday, October 27, Gav is helping to organise Fixed n’ Chips, a race on fixies stopping at five fish and chip shops around Bristol in any order. The first rider to a checkpoint gets 10 points, second gets nine points and so on, but the twist is that if you eat a battered sausage at a checkpoint you get five bonus points. Top prize is a bike, with other prizes from gloves to jerseys hopefully going to everybody taking part.

Here are Gavin’s top-five Bristol favourites:

Clifton Suspension Bridge
“I know it’s such a cliché but I don’t care, I love it! I’ve lived in Bristol for nearly eight years now and the bridge still never gets old. I love riding over it, I love driving under it. Now I live in Bedminster, it means I can actually see it in all its glory from afar, rather than too close. A feat of engineering and a beautiful sight to behold.”

The waterfront
“I love being by the water, and although not on the coast, Bristol brings that coastal feel to the city with all the water. I know the waterfront covers a big area of Bristol, but that’s why I love it. You can walk all the way round, see the boats, see the ss Great Britain, pop into the M Shed, stop off at the Pump House, it’s just a lovely area to be around.”

“Now I know I’m biased, but before I became an official Aardman-ite, I was (and still am) a big fan of the creative powerhouse. I remember peering through the window when I first came to Bristol, keen to grab a glance of the magic within. It gives me a lot of pride to call that place work and for it to be right here in the heart of Bristol.”

North Street
“I am a new recruit to BS3, having only lived here for six months, but I absolutely love it, and North Street is the epitome of that. Lots of independent shops, cafes and restaurants, all frequented by young and old; mums, dads, kids, students, hipsters. It has a real community feel to it. I hope to raise a family here one day. I love it.”

“Is it a bar? A restaurant? A coffee shop? A cinema? IT’S ALL OF THESE THINGS! And I love it for that. There’s always a very mellow atmosphere, whatever time of the day, and the food is awesome. Not only all the above, but their programme of events and screenings is always so diverse. Watershed is a real jewel in the crown of Bristol.”

Watershed in October

29 09 2012

October is gearing up to be a bumper month at the Watershed. Untouchable, the second highest grossing French film of all time, opened yesterday and continues until at least October 11, while the Sunday brunch screenings feature some of the favourite movies of acclaimed film writer David Thomson: Kiss Me Deadly, Breathless, The Truman Show and Blue Velvet.

Thomson appears in person on October 3 in a Festival of Ideas event to promote his new book, The Big Screen: The Story of the Movies and What They Did To Us.

One special event is a double-bill of cult classics from Japanese director and Godzilla creator Ishiro Honda, Matango and King Kong, followed by Hellfire DJs in the bar.

Another one-off in October are two evenings of screenings for the Jarman Award, in association with Film London. The award, inspired by David Jarman, recognises UK artist-filmmakers “whose work… resists convention and stretches boundaries”.

Many of the events at the Wildscreen Fringe Festival between October October 13 and 26 take place at the Watershed, including several documentaries made by Bristol’s world famous BBC Natural History Unit.

And there are more new releases, highlights of which include Liberal Arts, written, directed and starring Josh Radnor as an uninspired 30-something New Yorker who returns to his old university where he meets a precocious and captivating student; and On the Road, a long-awaited adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s novel directed by Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries).

Beasts of the Southern Wild (below), set in a mythical Louisiana swamp and, won both the Camera d’Or at Cannes and the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.


Encounters: the Bristol connection

18 09 2012

There are so many events happening at the Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival, starting today and running until Sunday, that it might be a challenge to know just where to start. There are events galore for film professionals, but also events galore for film fans.

The festival features animation at the Arnolfini and live action at the Watershed, with a cine-sauna at The Parlour Showrooms on College Green, one-off events at the Big Top @ Creative Common and solar-powered cinema in parks across the city.

Bristol film journalist Robin Askew says that “the best advice is to start by grabbing a ticket at random for any of the multiple British and international showcases and prepare to be amazed at the breadth of talent on display in modern short filmmaking”.

If you want to be a bit more targeted in your choices, here are some events at this year’s Encounters with a Bristol connection.

In the Shorts2Features strand of the festival is the Bristol premiere of Flying Blind, made under the Bristol micro-budget feature film initiative iFeatures. Starring Helen ‘Narcissa Malfoy’ McCrory, currently getting rave reviews in new ITV drama  Leaving and soon to appear in the new James Bond film Skyfall, Flying Blind is about the illicit romance between a high-flying aerospace engineer and a French-Algerian student.

Another Encounters UK premiere of a Bristol-made film is Flytopia by Karni and Saul, a mix of live action and animation adapted from a short story by Will Self, about a man who entering into a pact with all of the insects living in his house.

The three grand old men of Aardman Animations, David Sproxton, Peter Lord and Nick Park, will make a rare appearance on stage together at a gala event where they will be interviewed by Radio Four’s Francine Stock from The Film Programme, for a discussion spanning from Aardman’s beginnings through to its standing as one of the most successful and respected animation studios of all time. Aardman will also be presenting a retrospective programme of animated works, as well as an exhibition of sets, props and models at the Arnolfini.

Best of the South West screenings showcase many works from Bristol. One film to look out for is The Claw (left), directed by Nathan Hughes and featuring Peta Dennis, who played Pinocchio at the Tobacco Factory’s 2010 Christmas show. Best of the South West jury members will be Bristol mayor hopefuls Geoff Gollop of the Conservatives and Daniella Radice of the Green Party, who will be forced to agree.

Visit www.encounters-festival.org.uk for the full programme of events.