Atomic (trailer)

70 years ago this month the bombing of Hiroshima showed the appalling destructive power of the atomic bomb.  Mark Cousins’ bold new documentary looks at death in the atomic age, but life too.  Using only archive film and a new musical score by the band Mogwai,  Atomic shows us an impressionistic kaleidoscope of our nuclear times: protest marches, Cold War sabre rattling, Chernobyl and Fukishima, but also the sublime beauty of the atomic world, and how X Rays and MRI scans have improved human lives.  The nuclear age has been a nightmare, but dreamlike too.

Watch the film: BBC2 Scotland 8th August 21:10 and BBC4 Storyville 9th August 21:00



Variety: review I Am Belfast

A brilliantly perceptive review of Mark Cousin's work on I Am Belfast in Variety

If “The Story of Film” taught us anything, it’s that Cousins doesn’t see movies — or the world, for that matter — the same as other people. So why should he make movies the way they do? Though “I Am Belfast” never reveals his actual methods, Cousins assembled the film in an organic and wildly unconventional way: Like a gleaner, picking up scraps life has left behind, he would observe as a painter does, looking for specific colors, and listen like a jazz musician, blending found sounds with recovered echoes from composer David Holmes’ archives to trance-encouraging effect.

For the full article by Peter Debruge click here

I Am Belfast review: Films of memory and melancholy

An insightful summing up of 'memory films' including Mark Cousin's I Am Belfast by Swedish writer Mårten Blomkvist.

Blomkvist sees a trend for films using people's memories for inspiration at the Karlovy Vary festival in Czech Republic. He connects the current programme of films with classic 'memory films' Hiroshima - Mon Amour, Citizen Kane and Wild Strawberries. Not bad company for Mark to be in!

What follows is an approximate translation, click here for the original. 

People's memories are a rich source for the world's filmmakers and screenwriters. DN's Mårten Blomkvist visits the film festival in Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic and finds that memories are a unique and major movie genre. 

Every film is about memories . Whether it’s narrated with memories, or even an action movie. To sink into memories is a small film genre in itself . The programme in the ongoing film festival in Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic is a reminder of how memories pervade film . Documentary filmmaker Mark Cousins emembers his hometown in I Am Belfast. Ukrainian Eve Neymann recreates Song of Songs life in a shtetl , a small jewish village in Russia in 1905.  Other filmmakers have flocked to the small Spanish community where spaghetti westerns were once filmed and a disused factory for fireworks in Macao, China.

Yet is it really surprising so many great movies can revolve around memories? Take Citizen Kane, itself an almost forgotten memory - from 1941. A toxic portrayal of a ruthless newspaper king's life and career, a radical film, that's how one thinks of this historical giant. But Orson Welles’ film is completely made up of memories. A journalist collects survivor memories to understand what the main character Kane remembered in his last moments.  In a digression the king's right-hand man, Mr. Bernstein, tells newspaper about memories:  “you remember things you don’t think you'll remember. I can take myself as an example. One day in 1896, I had taken the ferry to Jersey and when we pulled out another ferry came in, and there was a girl waiting to get off. She wore a white dress and held a white parasol. I only saw her for one second. She did not see me at all, but I promise you that since that day not one month goes by when I have not thought of that girl.”

Ingmar Bergman's films contain many strong scenes where people remember. Wild Strawberries (1957), where old Isak Borg is gripped by his past, can even be said to have founded a school for the memory film directors.

Filmmakers are powerless against melancholy memories. Movie lover Mark Cousins s best known for his portrayal of film's history, The Story of Film (2011). The TV series is full of knowledge and love. Now he turns to the city and Stockholm. Cousins s in the process of collaboration with celebrated photographer Christopher Doyle to portray our own capital. In I Am Belfast actress Helena Bereen personifies the old city, and tells Cousins bout herself. There are lingering glances at the old facades, and the elements with pictures of the former Belfast: old men in hats behind a giant glass of Guinness. Purely romantic, it can not be in Belfast movie. Bereen talks tough about the glowing hatred between Protestants and Catholics.  But it certainly feels more like a film about memories - or as it is said in the film, "the misty water-colored memories of the way we were," not just the words of a hit from a Barbra Streisand film (Our Best Years , 1973). Songs, like movies, sometimes capture the bittersweet in remembering. Usually the memories of film pieces, diminishes the big picture. But in a classic dreamy Hiroshima - Mon Amour (1959), Alain Resnais  and Marguerite Duras’ adaptation, it is the loving couple and their fragments that creates a great part of the film’s force. 

Many filmmakers seek Hiroshima Mon Amour’s mood, especially in documentaries. Often with a central location, an abandoned object that can recall the life that once unfolded there. Portuguese Joao Pedro Rodrigues and João Rui Guerra da Mata have found an abandoned fireworks factory IEC Long, once famous for its extra LOUD firecrackers. In Once Upon A Dream - A Journey to the last spaghetti western Bulgarian Toni Slave Hristov explores a small Spanish society that can never forget the times when everyone worked on such films as Harmonica - the Avenger (1968). Good items. But as often happens the filmmakers rely on the environment's ability to speak for itself. Not everyone has a Christopher Doyle to help to get an old factory wall to shimmer enchantingly.

Song of Songs is a more evocative greeting from a shtetl in 1905 , a rarely depicted environment. Director Neymanns’ basis are stories of Sholem Aleichem , who called a jew Mark Twain , whose stories of Tevye became the musical Fiddler on the Roof . Contemporary Jewish persecutions , pogroms , mentioned , galghumoristiskt . But essentially gets the spectator to add sadness , knowing what villages like this would be hit with a few decades later.  Neymann sticks to 1905, and scenes like when villagers snuffling listening to street musicians. The singer is singing the Edith Piaf empathy for the memory of a woman - "I can not forget her, let me die!" The suicide candidate is about twelve . You are never too young to start dreaming about memory sweet pain.


Iconic Glasgow photographer on BBC2

Famous for his photograph dubbed The Castlemilk Lads in 1963, Oscar Marzaroli took some of the most iconic images of Glasgow. This new documentary explores the life of the photographer and revisits a few of his subjects. Man With A Camera is broadcasting Tuesday 1st April 22:00 BBC2 Scotland. 

Paris had Cartier-Bresson, New York - Diane Arbus and Glasgow - Oscar Marzaroli. Man with a Camera celebrates the life and work of Glasgow's pre-eminent photographer, using some of the 50,000 shots taken over thirty years - a moving portrait of a love affair between a man and his city, and the affection in which he is held today.

Marzaroli's black-and-white photographs have become synonymous with a post-war Scotland in the throes of regeneration. They captured both the aspects of the old, such as the rag-and-bone man in the Gorbals or the cockle gatherers of Barra, and the paraphernalia of the new - cranes, towers and construction at Glasgow's Charing Cross.

As Glasgow's landscape changes once again and the high-rises that Marzaroli documented going up are gradually being razed to the ground, this film celebrates Marzaroli's remarkable photographic legacy.

Find clips here. 

Glottal stops and rolling Rs, a masterclass in the Scottish accent

A wee preview of our upcoming documentary on the Scottish accent on screen. Alex Norton joins an actors' class in London as they prepare to master the Scottish accent. 

Dream Me Up Scotty: The Scottish Accent on Screen broadcasts on Monday 23rd December 9pm. See the BBC website for more details.