Appy days: how friends saved me as a first-time mum

A year and a bit ago when I had my baby I was totally overwhelmed as a first time mum. I couldn’t have written this at the time but am glad to be able to share how I felt now as I think being open can be helpful for others to know they aren’t alone. So – I cried a lot of the time day and night and in the moment it felt like that would never end. Without family too close by and no friends in the area I lived in I felt isolated and like I was sinking under it all.

My mum friends picked me up and pulled me out of it (even literally carrying my baby and buggy down the steps of my flat building with me when I was still recovering from a C-Section) and day by day, after hours and hours of hanging out in pubs, cafes and parks together it all slowly got better. I had basically only just met these women but we were kindred spirits thrown together into the madness that is first time motherhood.


Some of these mum friends I met on Mush – a​ ​free​ ​app​ ​that​ ​connects​ ​mums​ ​with​ ​other​ ​mums​ ​nearby,​ ​with​ ​kids​ ​the same​ ​age.​ ​It’s​ ​a​ ​local​ ​social​ ​network​ ​for​ ​mums!​ ​One of the mum friends I met on Mush even ended up taking beautiful photos of my baby for her photographer portfolio and others were the first members of a local what’s app mums group I made that grew to 30 something participants. I still rely on my mum friends so much now and I used Mush when I moved to a new area in the spring to make new mum friends.

The point is, my mum friends saved me and now I want to be there for other mums, so I’m getting involved with the biggest mum meet up ever!  So #letsdothistogether You can get on Mush here and if you are or know a mum living in NW London, check out the event I’m putting on Mumday Mush-up!

My new project – call out for short film night I’m curating at an exciting new London venue

After a break from working while I’ve been with my baby who is now 6 months, I’m delighted to announce a new project. I’m curating a short film night for an exciting new venue in East London – Poplar Union and I’m looking for short films for this event.
Please email me at popcornshorts@poplarunion with an online viewing link (no files) to a short film of around 5mins length if you’d like your work to be considered for the event. There is no theme as this is the first short film night at this venue so its nice and open for any type of short film on any subject.
The deadline to submit by is Monday 27th February and the event will take place on 27th March.
You can find more information about the event here
Do share this on to any filmmaker friends and contacts you have to let them know about the opportunity.
I’m looking forward to watching!
poplar union thumbnail_img_1629

Life-Changing News

When people ask what job I do and I tell them, or when prospective external working partners visit the centre where I work and hear about my job, I am usually answered with cries of – what a cool job … I would love to do that etc!”

Well, if you’e one of those people, now is your chance to become film programmer at JW3 as I will be going on maternity leave in a few weeks time as we are expecting our first baby!

All details to apply for the role are here at along with a number of other positions that JW3 are looking to fill.

It has been an amazing experience working in this job over the last almost 3 years since September 2013 and I’ve written quite a few posts about my work in the role on this blog.

I’m very excited about the next and biggest challenge and experience in my life yet – becoming a mummy!

Kate with bump!

Kate with bump!

2016 starts, reviewing 2013 – 2015 and my film programming

Happy New Year! As we begin 2016 and go back to work after the break, I was prompted to think back over work during the last couple of years since I started programming and running JW3 Cinema. For some time I have wanted to create a list of all the Q&As / special events with film directors etc that I have organised and chaired or moderated at JW3 Cinema so that I have a record of them and also in case my contacts can be helpful for others wanting to get in touch with those people. So why not do so now … here goes!



September  – How I Live Now preview screening. Q&A with Meg Rosoff, author of the book How I Live Now. I chaired the Q&A

October – Harold and Maude introduced by LOCO London Comedy Film Festival

– Foodies Film Club and Keshet Israeli TV Club also took place during this month

November Coming To America introduced by Doc Brown, presented by LOCO London Comedy Film Festival

– Foodies Film Club, Keshet Israeli TV Club and Misogynist Film Club also took place during this month

December – What’s Cooking introduced by the film’s director Gurinder Chadha

– Comedy Film Club, Keshet Israeli TV Club and Misogynist Film Club also took place during this month


January  – Rough Cut plus Q&A with the filmmaker Jamie Shovlin. I chaired the Q&A

February Artists’ Film Salon: I curated an evening of short films from 10 filmmakers and did a special feature interview with filmmakers Whitty Gordon Projects

– I planned and ran a special edible cinema style Foodies Film Club evening with Steph Saffer of Kokopelli’s Chocolate with the film Romantics Anonymous 

– I hosted and presented at a Film London Exhibitors’ Breakfast event which I held at JW3 Cinema

– I organised a screening of the opera film Don Giovanni (Juan) including an in conversation with the film’s director (Director of Opera for the Royal Opera House, London) and                         Norman Lebrecht in the JW3 Howard Hall

– Comedy Film Club, Foodies Film Club and Keshet Israeli TV Club also took place during this month

March Clueless introduced by Charlie Lyne,  presented by LOCO London Comedy Film Festival

– I organised an Oscars™ Warm Up Night screening of Searching For Sugar Man and panel discussion with Simon Chinn, Jason Solomons and Nicola Christie  with special activities

– Comedy Film Club, Foodies Film Club, Keshet Israeli TV Club and Misogynist Film Club also took place during this month

April – Artists’ Film Salon: I curated an evening of short films from 10 filmmakers and did a special feature interview with filmmaker Rebecca Feiner

– during late April to May I put together an Israel mini Season – 66 Years: The Party and the Political of film screenings and events

May – Advanced Style special screening with director and cast Q&A which I chaired

– Regina screening with panel discussion including the film’s director, Rabbi Laura Janner Klausner, Adam Ganz and Emily Kasriel

– Comedy Film Club and Foodies Film Club also took place during this month

June  – I organised 3 film screenings as part of the London wide Anxiety Arts Festival

– I worked with SERET London Israeli Film & Television Festival on a number of screenings and events during this month for their annual festival

–  Artists’ Film Salon: I curated an evening of short films from 8 filmmakers and did a special feature interview with filmmaker Lewis Rose

– Comedy Film Club, Foodies Film Club and Keshet Israeli TV Club  also took place during this month

– we also had a go at outdoor screenings for the first time with 3 taking place, which I organised with the Lost Picture Show

July – Finding Mike special film screening with panel discussion including the film’s director, executive producer and others

August – special screening of 112 Weddings for Tu B’Av, Jewish Israeli festival of love

September – Holes In My Shoes plus Q&A with the film’s director

The Woman At The End Of The World plus Q&A with the film’s director

– Comedy Film Club, Foodies Film Club and Keshet Israeli TV Club  also took place during this month

October – I initiated Arts On Screen series (live opera, ballet, theatre via satellite from London and other venues) from this month, still popular and continuing into 2016

– I organised a one off Chantal Akerman Day symposium with A Nos Amours including speakers: Chantal Akerman, Prosessor Griselda Pollock

– Foodies Film Club and Keshet Israeli TV Club  also took place during this month

November – I oversaw Artists’ Film Salon: an evening of short films from 12 filmmakers, curated by Lewis Rose

– UK Jewish Film Festival took place in the cinema and JW3 Howard Hall with a large number of special screenings and events

– Comedy Film Club and Keshet Israeli TV Club  also took place during this month

December – 2 special screenings as part of the inaugural UK Jewish Comedy Festival

– A Short Film About Killing special screening as part of the Institute of Contemporary Arts Kieslowski retrospective

– I organised a screening of Magic Mirror and Q&A with the film’s director adn Helena Reckitt

– in this month I launched the monthly Film Night Out for those in their 20s and 30s in this month, still popular and taking place in 2016. Thanks to training course I carried out with Independent Cinema Office

– Foodies Film Club and Keshet Israeli TV Club also took place during this month

– Arts On Screen and Exhibition On Screen also took place during this month



January – special screenings for Holocaust Memorial Day

– Comedy Film Club and Keshet Israeli TV Club also took place during this month

February – I organised a series of 3 films to celebrate Storytelling Through Film, coinciding with the Society for Storytelling’s National Storytelling Week

– Including Samuel special screening with Q&A in partnership with The Judith Trust, in recognition of Jewish Disability Awareness Month

–  Comedy Film Club and Jung and Film: Creativity and Madness presented by the Confederation of Analytical Psychology took place this month

March – Artists’ Film Salon, Comedy Film Club, and Foodies Film Club took place during this month

April – special screenings to celebrate Yom Ha’atzma’ut (Israel Independence Day)

– Jung and Film: Creativity and Madness presented by the Confederation of Analytical Psychology took place this month

May – I organised a special screening of Queen Of Hearts with London’s Little Italy On Film plus Q&A with the film’s screenwriter Tony Grisoni

– Comedy Film Club and Foodies Film Club In The Kitchen with Kosher Roast took place during this month

June – I organised a screening of the film Hebreo: The Search For Salomone Rossi introduced by the film’s director and with a concert from Minim Singers and His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts which I sang in

– I organised a screening of the film We Are Many and Q&A with the film’s director Amir Amirani which I chaired

– special screening and dance workshop with the film Shall We Dance

– screening of Hedy & Yumi Crossing The Bridge plus Q&A with Hedy and Yumi from the film

– I worked with SERET London Israeli Film & Television Festival on a number of screenings and events during this month for their annual festival

July Breath Made Visible film screening and discussion celebrating dance artists Anna Halprin

August – I organised a preview screening of The President plus Q&A with the film’s director Mohsen Makjmalbaf

September  Stealing Klimt plus conversation with the film’s producer, founder and Co-Chair of the Comission for Looted Art in Europe & Executive Director of the Association of Jewish Refugees. Organised with Second Generation Network

– I organised a screening of Perlman In Russia and an exclusive filmed interview, in partnership with Warner Classics

– I organised an evening with filmmaker Ruth Novaczek who was in conversation with Dr Rachel Garfield as part of Onwards and Outwards in partnership with the Institute of Contemporary Arts

– Jung and Film: Creativity and Madness presented by the Confederation of Analytical Psychology and The Tango Lesson screening with dance workshop took place this month

October – I began a new partnership with Cinema Italia UK screening the best Italian films that are not released in the UK, starting in this month with Se Dio Vuole. The series is continuing in 2016

– I organised a screening of A Syrian Love Story and Q&A with the film’s director Sean McAllister which I chaired

– Jung and Film: Creativity and Madness presented by the Confederation of Analytical Psychology and a special screening as part of the Kafka Festival at JW3 took place this month

November – UK Jewish Film Festival took place in the cinema and JW3 Howard Hall with a large number of special screenings and events

– Foodies Film Club in the Kitchen with Kosher Roast and the film Hannah And Her Sisters 

– I organised a film screening of Hand Gestures including a Q&A with the film’s director, who I met on the course I did in Venice with CICAE in the summer 

– I organised a screening of the film Letters From Palestine with Cinema Italia UK and I chaired a Q&A with the film’s director

December – I organised a screening of They Will Have To Kill Us First: Malian Music In Exile and a Q&A with the film’s writer Andy Morgan, chaired by Rita Ray

– I organised a one off preview screening of Rabin, the Last Day plus the film’s director Amos Gitai & Alain Elkann in conversation

– Cinema Italia UK presented Noi E La Giulia and there were film screenings and dance workshops with The Blues Brothers and Happy Feet during this month

In addition to these events I have also curated an artists’ film evening and chaired a Q&A with the film’s director for the film War Art with Eddie Redmayne at Chelsea Arts Club

2016 …

There will be many more Q&As and special events coming up for me this year to add to this list – here’s to a great one!

Halloween Dreadfuls

You may know that I happily go for any excuse to create a costume (have a look at some of my previous costumes here), so Halloween this weekend provided a good one. I got really into the TV series Penny Dreadful and decided that the main character Miss Vanessa Ives as portrayed by Eva Green was perfect for my Halloween persona.

The TV show, named after the Penny Dreadfuls – cheap sensationalist stories from the 19th Century – is set in Victorian London, exposing a dark ‘demimonde’ full of monsters and demons. The main characters form a group who combat all things evil in this dangerous world. Here’s the trailer from the first season – not for the faint hearted, this opening series was quite terrifying at times!

Some of literature’s most terrifying characters, including Dr. Frankenstein and his monster, Dorian Gray, and iconic figures from the novel Dracula are lurking in the darkest corners of Victorian London. They are joined by a core of original characters in a complex, frightening new narrative. Penny Dreadful is a psychological thriller filled with dark mystery and suspense, where personal demons from the past can be stronger than vampires, evil spirits and immortal beasts.

I love the dark and gothic, Victoriana styling to the series. Beautiful costumes, interiors, hair, make up and props are used to convey the period feel. Its also clear from this series that Eva Green is a very talented actress. The part of Miss Ives that she plays shows how versatile her acting can be and she can do a lot with this part that I think she couldn’t do in a film, but surely her performance would be award winning either way! Here are some pictures of the actual Miss Ives:

Miss Ives as played by Eva Green in Penny Dreadful. Images from various websites.

Miss Ives here and in the 3 images below as played by Eva Green in Penny Dreadful.       Images from various websites.

real Miss Ives 1 Real Miss Ives 2 vanessa-tarot_540x440

and my interpretation, having used images such as those above for inspiration. I was able to use my parents’ home as the perfect period style setting for the pictures – quite creepy I think you’ll agree! It was also fun because I had all the clothes already in my wardrobe so I didn’t need to buy anything extra, always the ideal costume when it works out that way. Photos thanks to Anna Shlonsky.

Miss Ives 3 Miss Ives 4

Miss Ives 1 redone

Miss Ives 2

Lastly, I have a reproduction print in my living room of Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I by Klimt. One evening, I was struck by a slight similarity between the ‘Woman In Gold’ and Eva Green as Miss Ives!

Eva Green Vanessa Ives and Adele Bloch-Bauer Woman In Gold

Film Festivals Write Up

Since last month I’ve been busy seeing lots of films and attending industry events for Venice Film Festival and London Film Festival. Here’s a write up on some of the films that I saw and I what I thought about them. Most of these films will be on general release soon enough for you to see at a cinema.

Venice Film Festival

The Childhood of a Leader

This chilling tale tells the story of an American boy living in France in 1918. His father works for the American government on the creation of the Treaty of Versailles. What he witnesses helps to mould his beliefs – and we see the birth of a terrifying ego. Loosely based on the possible childhoods of many great dictators in the twentieth century, The Childhood of a Leader is an unsettling portrait of emerging evil. I found this film quite powerful with engrossing performances from the child actor and Bérénice Bejo who really excels. There’s a twist or big reveal in the last moments of the film which I wasn’t really convinced by … but otherwise it’s a powerful watch.

image from Venice Biennale website

still from The Childhood of a Leader. Image from Venice Biennale website

Italian Gangsters

I thought this would be great – Italian gangsters, cool – what’s not too like?! Unfortunately there wasn’t enough action for me so it dragged on a fair bit. Great use of archive material though which lent the genuine flavour to this flick. Docu-film on some of the most famous episodes of Italian crime between the postwar period and the years of economic boom. A portrayal of the traces of the most famous exponents of Italian crime, which turns into the tumultuous telling of social transformations in “armed” Italy, among robberies and nightclubs, between confused rebellion and symbols of new wealth.


The Danish Girl

Remarkable love story inspired by the lives of artists Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegene. Lili and Gerda’s marriage and work evolve as they navigate Lili’s groundbreaking journey as a transgender pioneer. This film looks beautiful, the light plays on the Danish landscapes and buildings as it does on the period costumes but it was all a little too superficial in terms of the level of the story which I felt has been Blockbustered / Hollywoodized a bit too much – awards bait!



I found this film confused and confusing! And to be honest fairly boring at points as it went on too long after we had got the point already. By presenting a spectacular display of arts, reconstructions, archives, Sokurov’s Francofonia focuses on the relationship between art and power, on what art can teach us on our own selves even during one of the bloodiest conflicts the world has ever seen. The film is shot in the Louvre. I felt like this is one of those films that art film fanatics like to nod their heads at but don’t actually ‘get it’ or enjoy it.


A Bigger Splash

I loved this film! Not as spectacular for me as I Am Love the director’s last film but once again Tilda Swinton can do no wrong here and Ralph Fiennes breaks out in a laugh out loud you love and hate him part. The film smoulders on screen. Rock legend Marianne Lane is recuperating on the volcanic island of Pantelleria with her partner Paul when iconoclast record producer and old flame Harry unexpectedly arrives with his daughter Penelope and interrupts their holiday, bringing with him an A-bomb blast of delirious nostalgia from which there can be no rescue.


Rabin, The Last Day

This film is a long haul but it stays interesting and there’s a real tension there throughout. I felt sad watching it! But perhaps it’s a different experience for someone who sees it and doesn’t have personal Israeli connections. A film that casts a light on one of the most traumatic events in Israeli history: the assassination of the Labour Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by a young right-wing radical, determined to undermine the difficult process to build peace with the Palestinians. The film is centred on the report by the official court of inquiry headed by judge Meir Shamgar.


still from Pecore In Erba. Image from La Biennale website

still from Pecore In Erba. Image from La Biennale website


Pecore In Erbe

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one and once I saw it I can’t say I came out feeling much clearer about this film! Luckily I speak Italian but still there were quite a few cultural references that non Italian audiences wouldn’t get. The main idea is funny but not sooo amusing that it can be strung out for so long. This film is very satirical so if that’s not your thing then you’ll hate it. An ironic mockumentary, unusual genre for Italian cinema, on the theme of antisemitism, seen under a surreal light. A comedy entirely set in Trastevere the Roman neighbourhood, on its streets and on the people that animate it.


London Film Festival


A rare one where I loved the book and I really loved the film too. Saoirse Ronan was born to play this part. The moving tale sweeps us from small town homeland Ireland to the Big Apple – Brooklyn where a young girl discovering so much at once has to decide where and who to leave her heart with. Modernity versus traditional values are pitted against each other with incredible attention to period detail from dress to décor and more. This story stayed with me – personal, relatable and touching.

Saoirse Ronan in ‘Brooklyn’. image from London Film Festival website



‘a deeply romantic, emotionally honest love story about two women who courageously defy the suffocating conformities of mid-century America.’ – Clare Stewart, London Film Festival

I found this to be a very emotional film about two women trapped by the various confines of the society they lived in and who only wanted to have the freedom to love each other. The 50s’ style costumes and hairdos are also stunning! It’s the perfect not Christmas movie – since some of the story takes place over the seasonal holiday but it certainly differs from the usual blockbusters for the time of year.


Hand Gestures

This documentary film will be fascinating for those interested in how art is made. Its totally absorbing as there’s no dialogue. Just watch, listen hard and you’ll feel like you’re in this aged foundry and privy to its secrets. The film follows the process of creating one of artist Velasco Vitali’s famous dog sculptures, from wax to glazed bronze, at Fonderia Artistica Battaglia (Battaglia Artistic Foundry), in Milan. The visually engrossing film observes the work of a group of skilled artisans in this 100-year old foundry and reveals the ancient traditions of bronze sculpture making, unchanged since the Sixth century B.C. I’ll be hosting a Q&A with the film’s director at JW3 Cinema next month. Details and tickets here.


He Named Me Malala

Probably one of the most famous teenagers in the world, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman for championing girls’ education in Pakistan. This documentary depicts her life in the UK. I found this film to be more interesting than I imagined as a lot of the focus is on the lovely father daughter relationship. The use of animation in the film is also a pleasing technique as are the surprisingly funny moments captured. I found this film surprisingly more inspirational than Suffragette.


The Lobster

Imagine a world where single people aren’t allowed to exist. That’s the dystopian setting of this film which is full of quirky humour. Set in The Hotel where singles have a limited amount of time to find a mate before being turned into an animal of their choice, the residents have to undergo tasks, training and more to find their mate. They’ll also discover a community in the forests of those who have decided to chance it alone. If you like the series Black Mirror then you’ll love this film but it could be a little too weird for some. Starring and narrated by the magnificent Rachel Weisz – I’m a fan of her and this film.


Our Little Sister

The simply sweetest film about three sisters in a stunningly beautiful location in Japan who take their younger sister into their mother’s old family home when their father dies. Its about family relationships, growing up, old and new ways of living life and the choices between those as well as being about little pleasures in life from delicious delicacies which feature frequently in this film to nature’s beauty and bounty.


still from The People Vs. Fritz Bauer. Image from London Film Festival website

still from The People Vs. Fritz Bauer. Image from London Film Festival website

The People Vs. Fritz Bauer

The period detail is spot on in this film as was the casting for Fritz Bauer, a man who defied his own country members in working with Mossad to track down Adolf Eichmann portrayed by Burghart Klaussner. I liked the both urgent and cool jazzy sound track and the way that the pace was kept quick so that this drama stayed exciting. I think BBC’s recent The Eichmann Show just beats this one though, although with a slightly different focus.


Red Leaves

An original and strong debut feature depicting how an ageing patriarch of an Ethiopian-Israeli family tries to exert his traditional values on his family who find new ways of living in contemporary Israel.


Son Of Saul

Not like any shoah film I’ve seen before. This film follows a Sonderkommando in a concentration camp up very close. So close that the camera is right on him and the horrific things he witnesses happen just to the edge of the frame or he only hears them which is somehow even worse. It took a day or so before I stopped jumping when I heard industrial mechanical sounds on the street and couldn’t help thinking back to the film. Hard to believe that this is a debut feature for this new Hungarian director as its just an outstanding film. It will deserve all the awards I hope it wins.



I was actually a little disappointed in this film which wasn’t as brilliant as I expected it would be. Maybe it was just over hyped and I was led to believe Meryl Streep would feature more than she did. Anyway, its clear that it’s a very great thing that this film has been made about the ‘foot soldiers of the early feminist movement’ but something was missing, for me it didn’t really make me feel everything I expected it would. As I wrote above, I found He Named Me Malala to be more inspirational.


image from Wedding Doll. Image from London Film Festival website

image from Wedding Doll. Image from London Film Festival website

Wedding Doll

A daughter with learning disabilities wants to be independent from her hard working single mother in this desert region of Israel. However the real world isn’t the same as the one that this young girl dreams up so there are difficulties to be faced in love and life. I felt that this film got a bit lost in all the issues it was trying to cover from mother daughter relationships to working single mothers, contemporary Israeli society in this geographical region and attitudes towards disability. Phew! The acting is great though however overall I think that Next To Her is stronger overall – as a different film about a girl growing up with disability and discovering herself.


I was also lucky to get a ticket to Louis Theoux & Simon Chinn in conversation with radio and TV presenter Francine Stock about television and documentary films. The talk has been written up here

Some other screenings I caught over the film festival weeks were:

The Intern – schmaltzy drama about a 70 year old (played by Robert de Niro not doing what he’s known for) who goes to work for Anne Hathaway’s character at her online clothing company as an intern. This provided some needed light relief from some of the serious stuff I’d been watching and hey, yes I enjoyed it even though its not too serious, that’s exactly what it’s meant to be. Actually it was refreshing to see a storyline with an older man and young woman that was purely a friendship.

I also went to a screening of Macbeth the new film adaptation of Shakespeare’s play which looks stunning and Fassbender is great as Macbeth but I seem to be one of the few not fully conviced by Marion Cotillard as Lady Macbeth. I also don’t love that the director left out the ‘Double, double toil and trouble’ scene even though he explained he didn’t want to go down that road during the Q&A I saw with him and Michael Fassbender (a very cool surprise) – I just thought it was a shame!

Still from Macbeth. Image taken from Macbeth

Still from Macbeth. Image taken from Macbeth

In other recent film activity, last night I hosted a Q&A with the director of A Syrian Love Story which you can see on Storyville, BBC iPlayer and we were even able to Skype with some of the family in the film which was a moving experience.

And tonight I’m going to a screening of the film My Son The Jhadi with a producer/ director Q&A and the RSA London.

Up next, film festival season continues with the UK Jewish Film Festival which will be keeping me busy next month!

Contemporary Italian Cinema – un bel momento

I recently came back from Venice Film Festival after 9 days there as part of an arthouse cinema managing training course which I wrote about here and I returned to London even more of an Italophile than I left, also with a renewed enthusiasm for Italian cinema. It seems that Italian cinema is definitely having some time in the limelight at the moment which is great. Here’s a look at what’s coming up that there is to look forward to:

At the Venice Film Festival I saw A Bigger Splash directed by Luca Guadagnino – a funny, strange and visually stunning film centred around 4 characters, starring Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Matthias Schoenaerts and Dakota Johnson.

Rock legend Marianne Lane is recuperating on the volcanic island of Pantelleria with her partner Paul when iconoclast record producer and old flame Harry unexpectedly arrives with his daughter Penelope and interrupts their holiday, bringing with him an A-bomb blast of delirious nostalgia from which there can be no rescue. A Bigger Splash is a sensuous portrait of laughter, desire, and rock and roll detonating into violence under the Mediterranean sun.


I really enjoyed this film, it looks incredible – as its based on a beautiful Italian island and for me Tilda Swinton steals the show being the goddess that she always is! However, it didn’t quite reach the pinnacle of Guadagnino’s previous film for me, I Am Love … even the poster artwork for that film is brilliant!









Paolo Sorrentino who won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 2013 for The Great Beauty is back with a new film called Youth. Fred and Mick, two old friends, are on vacation in an elegant hotel at the foot of the Alps. Fred, a composer and conductor, is now retired. Mick, a film director, is still working. They look with curiosity and tenderness on their children’s confused lives, Mick’s enthusiastic young writers, and the other hotel guests. While Mick scrambles to finish the screenplay for what he imagines will be his last important film, Fred has no intention of resuming his musical career. But someone wants at all costs to hear him conduct again. I haven’t seen this film yet but wait to, it looks like its going to be great – starring Michael Caine and Rachel Weisz so a good start!




Piero Messina was assistant director to Sorrentino on The Great Beauty and Messina’s debut feature film The Wait sees Juliette Binoche and Lou de Laage play women holed up in a Sicilian villa as they wait for, respectively, their son and boyfriend to return. I’m intrigued to see this film as I really loved Binoche in her latest big film Clouds Of Sils Maria.


A recent film from a this time female Italian director (Alice Rohrwacher) is The Wonders (Le Meraviglie). The film is about an unconventional family including four daughters who live in the remote Italian countryside, making their living through bee-keeping and the production of honey. The father of German origin constantly tries to re enforce that he’s the one in charge, although  Gelsomina, the eldest daughter played by a first time actor is growing up fast and perhaps is the one who gets what’s going on better than the others. A main theme of the film is the idea of how ancient traditions and methods will have to give way to modernisation and the plot of the film follows a TV countryside competition that comes to the Etruscan area where the family is based.  The performance of  Alexandra Lungu who plays Gelsomina is really captivating in this film – dare you to look away as she does a trick with bees on her face… its all pretty weird but wonderful in this film. Monica Bellucci plays the hostess of the Countryside Wonders TV programme, as seen below. The film won the Grand Prix at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and has recently come out on view on demand.


Director Abel Ferrara has made a film about Pier Paolo Pasolini, one of the real greats of Italian cinema and more specifically, about his death with occured under suspicious circumstances. I studied Pasolini’s films during my undergraduate degree in Art History & Italian and really enjoyed getting into them. The films and man made an impression on me and I wrote my final year dissertation (in Italian) comparing the sacred and the profane in Pasolini and Michelangelo’s work. It’ll be interesting to see this film and I’ve read that Willem Dafoe plays the part of Pasolini extremely well. The film is distributed by BFI and is being screened currently, listed here 


To almost finish, here’s a look at the result of the 9 day course that I did in Venice …


and while on that course, I met a talented Italian filmmaker with a wonderful documentary film that follows the process of creating one of Velasco Vitali’s famous dog sculptures, from wax to glazed bronze, at Fonderia Artistica Battaglia (Battaglia Artistic Foundry), in Milan. The film observes the work of a group of skilled artisans in this 100-year old foundry and reveals the ancient traditions of bronze sculpture making, unchanged since the Sixth century B.C. This film will be screened at the London Film Festival, as will a number of other Italian films, listed here.

Lastly, I’m excited to be collaborating with Cinema Italia UK at JW3 Cinema where I work, who I met when I put on a screening of the brilliant film Queen Of Hearts thanks to London’s Little Italy On Film, with screenwriter Tony Grisoni. Cinema Italia screen Italian films that would otherwise not be shown in the UK.  I’ll leave you with the trailer for Queen Of Hearts, enjoy!

8 days in Venice soon for Art Cinema = Action + Management

I’m very pleased to tell you about some news – that I applied for and was successful in getting a (fully funded!) place on a unique training course called Art Cinema = Action + Management which is run by CICAE, the International Confederation of Art Cinemas. This will take place soon, from 31st August to 8th September. The course is the only international training programme for professionals working in the art house exhibition industry. The seminar is organised with the support of the Creative Europe’s MEDIA Programme and consists of around 20 trainers and 50 participants coming from all over the world, for an 8-day programme of lectures, workshops, case studies and screenings. CICAE is celebrating 60 years this year and you can find out about its interesting history here

The aims of the course are:

  • To communicate with the new generation of art house managers the specific knowledge (methods, tools, ideas and contacts) they need for programming, event organisation and management of an art house cinema.
  • Offer exhibitors a space where they can reflect on their practices, share their experiences and discover new opportunities in their industry
  • Provide insight into the tools of the trade and the challenges faced by the sector
  • Benefit from the skills of close to a hundred top-notch cinema professionals and trainers
  • Create a network of contacts and exchange experiences with one’s peers
  • Develop short and long-term projects

Art Cinema = Action + Management

I’m really excited to have this opportunity to take part in 8 days of intense training, surrounded by the atmosphere of so much going on, as the course timing coincides with the 72nd Mostra del Cinema (Venice International Film Festival). So I am very much looking forward to lots of learning and collaboration as well as networking and screenings at the film festival. Its going to be really interesting for me to meet other people from all over the world, running arthouse independent cinemas, just like me! It’ll also be a great chance for me to be back in Italy (where I lived for a year) and practice my Italian which I am fluent in but it tends to go a bit rusty when I don’t speak often. The course takes place on the island of San Servolo, close to the Lido in Venice. San Servolo used to be a monastery and now is used for conferences and so on.




The other day I actually held a meeting at work in Italian which was great practice and a boost for my confidence to know that I can still do it! I’m very much looking forward to working with the wonderful Cinema Italia UK as a result of this. Cinema Italia UK screen films in London which would otherwise not have any release in the UK. Cinema Italia UK


Its going to be great to be back in Venice. I was last there for the Venice art Biennale in 2011! Hopefully I’ll write an update on how it all went when I’m back. Ciao for now!

Let me tell you about a great new film – ‘Listen Up Philip’

I really loved the newly released film Listen Up Philip, so I wrote about it! Have a read and go and see the film, its out in cinemas now. Even the art work for the film is super cool!

Film poster for ‘Listen Up Philip’. Image from


US indie flick Listen Up Philip from director Alex Ross Perry engrosses us in the world of New York based writer Philip Lewis Friedmann, who as he finds success with his latest book, experiences overwhelming disinclination in regards to pretty much everything, resulting in a tragicomic viewing experience full of laugh out loud witticism and a sense of sadness.

Jason Schwartzmann visibly delights himself and therefore the audience in playing Philip, perfectly. Watching him, you want to punch Philip in the face, he is obnoxious in every way – not even trying in the relationship with his photographer girlfriend Ashley (Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men) and doing anything he can to make things difficult for colleagues at his literary agency to work with him.

Philip becomes frustrated with the New York City environment and decides for the sake of his art and sanity it seems, to go upstate and spend time with his idol, the older, novelist Ike Zimmerman (Jonathan Pryce). The film then follows the verging on bromance literary scene style misadventures of the two characters, then shifting to Ashley back in the apartment previously shared with Philip in NYC. There are certainly moments of homage to Woody Allen with a bit of Noah Baumbach thrown in and of course some Wes Anderson inspired stuff, familiar to Schwartzmann as one of the director’s frequent collaborators.

Exasperating relationships feature throughout – Ike cannot get along with his daughter Melanie (Krysten Ritter) and when taking on a cushy academic job that Ike lands him, Philip eventually is unable to keep a relationship going with associate scholar Yvette (Joséphine De La Baume). In their behaviour, Ike and Philip are as bad as and deserve each other. Ike is a preview to Philip’s possible future and the troubles of these males, serve to only highlight the success of rising star Ashley in her career and comparatively flourishing personal life away from Philip.

Stylistic elements keep this feature fresh. Particularly enjoyable is the radio style voiceover narration throughout the film that allows the audience to concentrate on Schwartzmann’s portrayal of Philip that is both magnetising and maddening. Moss’s performance is exceptional, her face giving us an intelligent reading of human emotion, especially during relationship break up, when it’s all convincingly raw. Frequent use of close up camerawork also contributes to the sensation of characters feeling trapped. The set of book covers mocked up especially for the film used when the credits roll, with their retro look give more than a nod to American Jewish writer Philip Roth whose influence is felt through many parts of the film.

What makes Listen Up Philip memorable and such a delight to watch, are certainly the terrific performances and the characters themselves. Philip is so unpleasant but in such an amusing way. Like a Larry David, he does what he likes without concern for others and we revel in it …. Listen up, Philip does not and that makes everything more of a struggle for him and absolutely entertaining for us.

Singing is good for you … don’t have to tell ME that! Now scientifically proven

You may know that I’m a keen choral singer. I sing in 3 different choirs currently and have been singing since I was 5 years old. I was lucky enough to be spotted by a great singing teacher at school and stuck with it ever since then. I feel much better in myself when I’m singing compared to times when I don’t if I’m too busy or something. There are so many benefits for me: using my brain in a different way to sight sing and learn new music, the great feeling of having learnt that music and being able to perform it to concert level, as well as working and achieving something together with a group. Singing can be hard work but for me it’s also social and fun. Being able to perform with other musicians and in different venues is also always a treat.

English Chamber Choir which I sing in and am pictured here on the front row. Image from

                                               English Chamber Choir which I sing in. I’m pictured here on the front row.                                            Image from

Now, according to contemporary choral composer and musical director Eric Whitacre, (who I wrote about here) the health benefits of singing have been scientifically proven. Whitacre has collaborated with a scientist working in the centre for performance science at the Royal College of Music to monitor stress hormone levels in singers when they are rehearsing and performing. The audience was also monitored. The conclusion was that for singers and audiences, after singing or listening to singing, stress hormone levels went down and all involved felt more relaxed.

“Singing is something that many people inherently feel is good for them and relaxes them. But to actually show biologically (and demonstrate scientifically) that it can reduce stress is very exciting.” – Eric Whitacre

I agree with the study as even at times when I don’t feel like going to rehearsal, I’m always in a better mood after having a good sing! I also know that listening to live or even recorded music relaxes me.

On the subject of choirs, I’m looking forward to Dustin Hoffman’s new film The Choir. Hoffman plays the part of the musical director of a boys choir and the film follows the journey of one troubled boy to becoming the musical academy’s best singer. Dustin Hoffman is in the press at the moment for bemoaning the state of the film industry in terms of money-making being at the top of the list and the lack of time that can be spent on making movies. Hoffman did however say about music,

“I love it more than anything, but I can’t play well enough to make a living out of it. If God tapped me on the shoulder right now and said ‘no more acting, no more directing, but you can be a decent jazz pianist’ … I could never read music gracefully. I don’t have a good ear. I still want to do it. I would love to do it.”

Well I think he could do anything!

The Choir poster