A Weekend At Somerset House 2011

For the last two weeks Summer Screen and BAFTA have worked to turn Somerset House into a beautiful open air cinema showing a variety of great movies. Although the event was more than just screenings. Before each event BAFTA hosted Behind the Screen, talking with critics and industry professionals in relation to the evening films.

The weekend of the 30th and 31st of July was a great example of just how Summer Screen works to create a very unique viewing experience. The Saturday kicked off with an in depth talk with writer/director Joe Cornish as he gave some insight into his directing debut Attack the Block came about. Joe is truly one of those rare examples where a TV personality is just as witty and down to earth as they appear to be onscreen, and so the talk was no doubt a lot of fun. He described how his love of cinema came about at an early age, where due to the initial lack of censorship on tapes, he was able to watch a wide variety of different horror and Science fiction films. He also stated Picnic at Hanging Rock as film which has stuck with him, viewing it at an impressionable age. The discussion then progressed onto Attack the Block how it evolved from a bad incident with a group of youths to being one of the most striking British films in years. Overall the screenplay took four years to write as all the material was researched thoroughly. Joe mentioned how he brought the concept for the film to numerous youth groups to ask what they would do if it was them who were attacked by aliens like the characters in the movie. Their insights gave his a ‘bucket full of ideas’ to dip into and ensured the movie was as realistic as it could be in it’s portrayal of South London youths. Currently Joe has been working to promote Attack the Block in America and The Adventures of Tintin, which he co-wrote is coming out later this year. After the discussion everybody moved up to the court in Somerset House to get comfortable before the night’s action double bill, Die Hard followed by Attack the Block.

In complete contrast to Saturdays events, Sunday began with a Behind the Screen talk about one of the masters of Hollywood, Billy Wilder. There to discuss the great director’s works were the author of One Day, David Nicholls, and Director Terence Davies. Both men are huge fans of Wilder and it’s not difficult to see why. Firstly few other directors have successfully delved into so many genres from war to romantic comedy. Wilder’s writing is also something very special, and part of the reason he became a director was to ensure that the actors kept to the script. After the discussion, there was a screening of Wilder’s 1960 classic The Apartment starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley Maclaine.

The Summer Screen at Somerset House seems to get better every year, and proof of it’s popularity can be seen in just how quickly tickets do sellout. Hopefully Summer Screen 2012 will be just as good if not better, and BAFTA will continue their insightful Behind the Screen series which really got to the heart of every film screened.

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