The Story of Film on your screens and the future of film education in your hands

While Madonna takes hobbyist film-making to, by all accounts, new lows, tonight on More 4 and on Monday night a cinematic rollercoaster ride through film history promises some real highs and not a few surprises.  The fifteen part adaptation of his book The Story of Film, helmed  by Mark Cousins with producer (and former Scottish Screen CEO) John Archer at his side, this fifteen part epic aims to de-centre the European and Hollywood-centric world view of cinema.  Indeed Cousins pulls no punches in the opening episode, declaring conventional histories to be racist in their dismissal of the contributions made by film innovators in Africa, Asia and the global south.

Having experienced the entire fifteen hour series in one hour, courtesy of editor and (Screen Academy Scotland graduate) Timo Langer’s deft skill at employing 50x speeded-up motion between sequences drawn from across the series, I can attest that audiences are in for a kaleidoscopic immersion in a century of moving images, allied to an incisive and insightful commentary by Cousins. No doubt some will take issue  (as I did) with one or other of Mark’s claims to cause, effect or significance.  But there is no doubting that this series will be a major contribution and indeed corrective to the story of film.  It is especially important as a potential aid to the teaching of film history to new generations of young (and not so young people) – a particular concern of Cousins evident in his and Tilda Swinton’s Eight and a Half foundation, launched at last year’s Edinburgh Film Festival following his 2007 Vertigo ‘Letter to my Eight and half year old self’ .

With the future direction of support for film education (at a UK level ) partially subject to the outcome of the current DCMS film policy review which will in turn have a major influence on the BFI’s own strategic review, there are just 6 days left to make your views heard here. So perhaps after watching episode one of The Story of Film on Monday night would be a good time to put finger to keyboard…

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