March at BFI Southbank including Tilda Swinton, Elia Kazan and Céline Sciamma seasons

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News / Entertainment / UK

Wednesday 22 January 2019, London.

This March, BFI Southbank will celebrate the extraordinary, convention-defying career of one of cinema’s finest and most deft chameleons – TILDA SWINTON – who will also receive the prestigious BFI Fellowship at the BFI Chair’s annual dinner on Monday 2 March. The season, which has been programmed in partnership with the performer and filmmaker herself, will run from 1 – 18 March and will include a programme of feature film screenings, shorts and personal favourites, as well as on stage appearances from Tilda Swinton and some of her filmmaking collaborators, including director Joanna Hogg. Also in March, BFI Southbank concludes a two month celebration of ELIA KAZAN, one of the most influential American directors of the 1950s, whose work in theatre and film helped to change the face of acting. Titles screening in March include Wild River (1960) starring Montgomery Clift, Splendor in the Grass (1961) featuring Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty and his most openly biographical film America, America (1963). To mark the release of her latest film, Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019), on extended run from Friday 6 March, BFI Southbank will also host a focus on the work of CÉLINE SCIAMMA,one of the foremost voices in contemporary French cinema, who consistently brings bold and distinctive work to the screen. CLOSE UP: CÉLINE SCIAMMA will include screenings of her latest film alongside her coming-of-age ‘trilogy’ of Water Lilies (2007), Tomboy (2011) and Girlhood (2014).

Events and previews at BFI Southbank from 1-17 March (after which point BFI FLARE: LONDON LGBTQ+ FILM FESTIVAL launches across the venue) will include film previews of Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am (Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, 2019), Bacurau (Kleber Mendonça Filho, Juliano Dornelles, 2019), Dogs Don’t Wear Pants (JP Valkeapää, 2019) and Calm With Horses (Nick Rowland, 2019). On INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2020 (Sunday 8 March) there will be previews of Haifaa Al-Mansour’s The Perfect Candidate (2019), followed by a Q&A with the directorand Philippa Lowthorpe’s Misbehaviour (2020), followed by a Q&A with the director, as well as cast and crew to be announced. Also in March, Mark Kermode’s regular event – Mark Kermode Live in 3D at the BFI, and a 40th anniversary celebration Yes Minister (BBC, 1984) with an onstage discussion with writer and director Jonathan Lynn. Extended runs will include the continuation of the BFI release of Little Joe (Jessica Hausner, 2019), the previously mentioned Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Céline Sciamma, 2019) and a re-release of David Lynch’s masterful The Elephant Man (1980), on extended run from Friday 13 March.


·         TUE 3 MAR, 18:15 – SPECIAL EVENT: Tilda Swinton in Conversation / Onstage: performer and filmmaker Tilda Swinton

·         FRI 13 MAR, 18:10 – SCREEN EPIPHANY: Tilda Swinton introduces Peter Ibbetson (Henry Hathaway, 1935) / Onstage: performer and filmmaker Tilda Swinton

·         MON 16 MAR, 18:10 – SCREENING + INTRO: Man to Man (John Maybury, 1992) + Caprice (Joanna Hogg, 1986) / Onstage: director Joanna Hogg  

BFI Southbank’s TILDA SWINTON season, programmed in partnership with the performer and filmmaker herself, will run from 1 – 18 March 2020, celebrating the extraordinary, convention-defying career of one of cinema’s finest and most deft chameleons. The season coincides with Tilda Swinton receiving the prestigious BFI Fellowship at the BFI Chair’s annual dinner on Monday 2 March, honouring and celebrating Swinton’s daringly eclectic and striking talents as a performer and filmmaker and recognising her great contribution to film culture, independent film exhibition and philanthropy.

Alongside a programme of feature film screenings, shorts and personal favourites, the season will include Tilda Swinton in Conversation on Tuesday 3 March, during which the BFI will look back on her eclectic career as a performer across independent and Hollywood cinema, as well as producer, director and general co-conspirator of maverick free spirits everywhere, while also surveying her moving-image work form the worlds of fashion and music. Swinton will also be on stage on Friday 13 March to introduce her BFI Screen Epiphany – Peter Ibbetson (Henry Hathaway, 1935) accompanied by short film Portrait of Ga (Margaret Tait, 1952), one of Swinton’s favourite films. There will also be an event to explore a cinematic project that Swinton was intimately involved in the making of: The Seasons In Quincy: Four Portraits of John Berger (2016) comprise four short essay films focused on the novelist and poet John Berger. On Wednesday 11 March, there will be an event to explore the project, featuring excerpts from the finished films and a discussion of Berger’s legacy. A number of Swinton’s co-collaborators will be on stage during the season, including director Joanna Hogg (Caprice, The Souvenir), with more names to be announced soon.

Tilda’s fresh-eyed curiosity, anarchic spirit and instinct for collecting conspirators were all forged in the intensely creative collaboration she shared with artist and filmmaker Derek Jarman, with whom she made seven feature films. The season will feature screenings of Caravaggio(1986), the meditative and utterly singular biopic of the late-Renaissance painter, which was Swinton’s first film role and remains one of her most cherished. Caravaggio will screen alongside Rompo i lacci From Flavio (Tilda Swinton, Sandro Kopp, 2018), which sees Swinton’s five springer spaniels romp around a Scottish beach to an aria from Handel’s opera Flavio. Also screening will be Jarman’s tour-de-force The Garden (1990), reimagining the life and death of Christ as an allegory for the persecution of gay men. This intimate insight into the ailing filmmaker’s inner world was shot on Super 8, utilising a cast of religious icons that include Jesus, Judas and a skullcap-wearing desert wanderer Madonna played by Swinton. The Garden will screen alongside a segment from an anthology film Aria (segment Depuis le jour, 1987), also directed by Jarman.

Swinton has enjoyed a risk taking, unconventional career, relishing in make believe and shape shifting identities. She won great acclaim for playing the title role in Sally Potter’s adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando(1992) about a person viewing four centuries of experiences through the eyes of both sexes; the film is still a convention-defying spectacle to behold over 25 years on – no wonder it’s being feted by the Met Gala this year. Also screening is Man to Man (1992), John Maybury’s twisted nightmare of a fairy tale, adapted from Manfred Karge’s gender-blurring play. It features a phenomenal solo performance from Swinton as a German woman who assumes the identity of her dead husband and goes on to witness the rise and fall of the Third Reich, and many years of German history after, while shapeshifting through multiple personas. Man to Man will be screened alongside Joanna Hogg’s graduation film Caprice (1986) which stars Swinton as a woman who enters the dreamworld of her favourite fashion magazine. Made more than 30 years before they collaborated on The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg, 2019), which also starred Swinton’s daughter Honor Swinton Byrne, Caprice will be preceded by an introduction by director Joanna Hogg on Monday 16 March.

Revered by the avant-garde and British and World independent cinema, Tilda also seamlessly crosses over into studio films, winning the Best Supporting Actor Oscar and BAFTA for Michael Clayton (Tony Gilroy, 2007), a thriller about the tentacles of corporate power that feels more relevant than ever in the age of Trump. Also screening will be The Deep End (Scott McGehee, David Siegel, 2001), the taut Hitchcockian thriller which launched Swinton’s Hollywood career. In it she plays an ordinary housewife single-handedly juggling childcare and an ailing father-in-law while struggling to pay a blackmail ransom. In existential drama Julia (Eric Zonca, 2008) Swinton is at her most committed and riveting as a manipulative and desperate alcoholic who becomes embroiled in a kidnapping plot. ‘A horror film and the nightmare scenario for anyone who’s ever thought of having a child’ is Swinton’s description of Lynne Ramsay’s We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011), adapted from Lionel Shriver’s novel. As a mother struggling to connect with her sociopathic son, Swinton viscerally maps her trajectory from newly-married bohemian to a husk of a woman, ably capturing her conflicting emotions and supressed trauma.

Swinton has worked with a range of auteur filmmakers with big artistic visions and compelling world views, sustaining and developing these relationships by collaborating on a number of separate projects including Luca Guadagnino (A Bigger SplashSuspiria), Jim Jarmusch (The Limits of ControlThe Dead Don’t Die) and Wes Anderson (Moonrise KingdomThe Grand Budapest Hotel). Examples of these which will screen in the season include Guadagnino’s I Am Love (2009), in which Swinton excels at embodying urgent desire in one of the great cinematic portraits of sexual awakening. Swinton co-produced, developed the film and learned Italian for this ravishing and epic romance in which she plays a wealthy mother and an interloper in the Milanese aristocracy. Playing a 3000-year-old beatnik vampire, Swinton flexes her comic powers and channels her inner-animal in Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch, 2013) a stylish musing on mortality. She was heavily involved in developing the project with Jim Jarmusch, and it’s littered with personal references.  Her hypnotic chemistry with Tom Hiddleston’s jaded musician Adam makes for an incredibly charming romance. There will also be a rare chance to see Bong Joon-ho’s masterly Snowpiercer (2013), unreleased in the UK, on the big screen. A ‘mild-mannered man in a suit’ was how Bong Joon-ho’s script originally described the bureaucrat quelling an uprising in this post-apocalyptic thriller set on a train; Swinton delighted in transforming the role into a sadistic monster, complete with dentures and furs.

A full press release announcing Tilda Swinton’s BFI Fellowship can be found here.

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