Archive for the ‘film’ Category

Oh dear oh dear oh dear. I have just done a search on WordPress using ‘franceskaywriter’ and was told there was NO RESULT. This suggests to me that I am leaving far too long between blogposts. Sorry about this.

What have I done since my last one?

Been to the fabulous DINGLE FILM FESTIVAL ,  saw many fine films, two of which I urge you to catch next time they are showing:

THE PERVERT’S GUIDE TO IDEOLOGY [must see for any media studies students]

LORE [wonderfully photographed with stunning performances by three children on a journey through a dystopian German landscape at the end of WW2]

And I declare an interest in the exciting premiere of a film directed by Maurice Galway, music by Nico Brown: PAULINE BEWICK: YELLOW MAN, GREY MAN is a frank and revelatory look at this extraordinary artist and her work….

Here is the full programme for you to gnash your teeth over if you missed it:

Next blog on my strange journey through the landscape and into the trousers of Thomas Hardy will follow soon!

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Last night I was watching a series of films made by the admirable Humphrey Jennings in the early 1940s. ‘London can take it’, ‘Spring Offensive’, ‘The First Days’, were all made for morale boosting propaganda purposes, but nevertheless painted a realistic picture of what the people and their government were doing to improve national health, educate people about their union rights, and inspire the population to further efforts.

One thing comes across with dazzling clarity. The genuine wish, translated into actions, of the war cabinet of the day, to enable everyone to be as healthy, as well cared for, and as informed as possible. No outsourcing or private companies stood to make profits. The priority was ourselves, the ordinary people, and these films show how much the government of the day valued its citizens and respected the conditions they were enduring.

Of course, having a war to fight helped. We had a common purpose and a shared vision. But is this what it takes to make politicians care about us? What a tragedy. It seems we have learned nothing from recent history. The nation’s health improved; we took more exercise, our diet was better, even our teeth and eyes were looked after, because those in power over us believed we mattered.

These films should be required viewing for the present day cabinet, who have forgotten what a resource we could be. If they cared.

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Can’t wait to head to fabulous Dingle next weekend.

The rare atmosphere, the outstanding scenic beauty and the chance to see loads of hot films draws me like a magnet.

I’m especially looking forward to the tribute film to wonderful Michael O’Sullivan, who for years owned and ran the unique Phoenix Cinema in Dingle. A fine gentleman and a true aficionado of cinema, Michael has helped to keep film alive and kicking in Dingle. His death earlier this year will not end the passionate and creative relationship between the Phoenix and the Film Festival.

The film which commemorates his life  is directed by Maurice Galway, the Festival’s Director, and will be shown on Friday 16th March.


see for yourself!

see you there?


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…. and sometimes it’s a film. Well, actually, I have only done this twice.

The first play I dreamed was about a hive of bees – I saw it all; the sets, the costumes, the characters and the story. It turned into a play for five year olds about life in a beehive. Originally titled THE BUZZ IS GOOD, this was changed at the suggestion of Martin, the director, who said the title was too ‘druggy’. So it ended up being called BUMBOGS AND BEES –  bumbóg is the Irish word for a bee.

Then, a couple of nights ago, a short film crept into my dream – tantalisingly unfinished. It was called BAR COLONELS. Four colonels from different South American countries, in full military uniform, are running a bar on a beach. In my dream, it was being directed by my friend Maurice, who runs the Dingle Film Festival. Bizarrely, he’d turned up for the shoot also sporting a full dress uniform, white, with lots of gold medals and ribbons. Although it was being shot on a windy beach in County Kerry we were all wearing our own versions of South American clothes, and the set was dressed with flowers and plastic pineapples. Underneath the jollity, however, there was an undercurrent of something dark…. the colonels were smiling too hard – and did they have guns hidden under the bar? Were they actors, or real soldiers?

I’ve given this idea to Maurice, as he seemed to have inspired it. so he now has the copyright to BAR COLONELS. I will keep you posted if it turns up in 2013’s  Dingle Film Festival..

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I was doing a placement in a psychiatric hospital in York when I heard a doctor say in a casual way that undisclosed sexual abuse was one of the causes of psychosis. The case conference moved swiftly on and I never had a chance to ask him if this was rare or common. Before this I had assumed that psychosis was an illness like measles, striking out of the blue, that could be treated with drugs.
But it made sense to me even back in the 70s that if someone has a mental illness, you at least consider the possibility that it has been caused by something that has happened to them.
In her gripping, horrific work of fiction, Lionel Shriver creates two monsters – one, the boy who from birth seemed to have little one could find to love, and the other the boy’s mother, a brilliant construct whom we only gradually realise is the most unreliable of narrators, emotionally remote, intelligent but ultimately destructive .
The unfolding of that scenario will, I am sure, make a gripping and terrible film, but it would not be, presumably, one in the mould of ‘Damien’ or ‘The Omen’, which play with the idea of children who are spawn of the devil. Commercial horror films deliver an over the top dose of unbelievable and grotesque horror – what could be more horrendous than a baby in the cradle contemplating demonic acts?
The book is not intended to be horror in that sensational way; it is literary fiction and it sets out a psychological scenario that, to begin with, seems plausible. Only the events as they move to their grisly finale had me asking whether we were in the world of shlock horror or psychological realism.
I haven’t seen the film, but from reviews I have read it would seem that the central boy plays the role with a knowing ambiguity, so that the audience is not sure what the reality is.
To suggest, even subtly, that a child can be born with a propensity to evil, is against everything I believe, from a lifetime of working with and knowing children who come from the most hopeless beginnings. Their constant struggles to love inadequate, neglectful, selfish parents remind me of the 1950s experiment with baby monkeys taken from their mothers at birth and kept in a cage with a ‘mother’ constructed of wire that could dispense milk to them. After a while, another mother, also made of wire but with fragments of rag attached, was put in the cage. She did not give milk. The babies soon developed an attachment to the rag mother, and left the nourishing but uncuddly wire mother. The experimenters then began giving the babies random electric shocks through the rag mother, which caused such pain that they had to drop off her and go back to the wire mother. But time and time again, they would come back to the rag mother, to test if she was going to shock them, and if she didn’t, they stayed clinging to her. That, in my experience, is what a child will do – returning over and over again to the punishing, hurtful mother . To suggest that a boy, even if he knows his mother rejects and dislikes him, would wreak this terrible revenge on her, does not make psychological sense to me.
However, if we accept that Kevin is never loved or accepted by his mother, while his father gives him unconditional love and acceptance, why does he choose to kill his father and sister? The focus of his hatred in this story’s logic would surely be the harsh and unloving mother? Unless he is capable of even more sophisticated sadism and leaves her alive purely to suffer the consequences of his acts?
I read the book at a gallop, but I could never read it again, and I don’t want to see the film. It taps into every parent’s nightmare of giving birth to a child who is unlovable from his first breath. Or that as your child grows, your love will be tested beyond breaking point.
And that is where I part company with Lionel Shriver. What would have interested me in this story would not be the voice of Kevin’s mother, the voice of the articulate middle class, the parents whose journeys are so extensively aired in broadsheet newspapers, TV documentaries, blogs and tweets. It is the voice of Kevin I would have liked to hear. What was his take on the world he was born into? What was going on in his head, from birth to his teenage crime? Children simply don’t get heard enough. This film won’t give a hearing to those abused and angry kids who could, I passionately believe, have had a chance if they had had some decent parenting.

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