Halesworth - Films/Festivals, Uncategorized

Aldeburgh Documentary Film Festival – Leslie Woodhead

Leslie Woodhead

I imagine he is the same generation as Bob, and lived in the same climate, of Granada coming to the university to seek out talent, rather (than todays climate where the talent has to knock hard at the doors of producers) and a golden age of no competition (ITV was the exclusive commercial channel, of the 4 existing) enabling him to find relatively easy funding, for imaginative projects, and managerial structures so transparent and singular, (a head, programme director and another) that swift decisions were made. 

His voice, from the north, reminds me much of Parkinson. Straight, northern, no bullshit. 

His first film was commissioned as a comparison between two music movements contrasted: the Brig House Brass Band and a little known but rocking Liverpool band that played in the Cavan. Indeed the young Beetles. (Ironically it was the Brig Band Union that held up the programmes airing) His was the first film of the Beetles, just around Love me Do, their first single. Ringo had just joined the band. He talks much of the physical constraints and imaginative use of the technology available to them then: a huge brick of a camera on and equally weighty and cumbersome tripod. Must have been tough in the limited space of the ca. The lights that scorched the beehive hair. 


LS Laurie

The first film shot without the tripod, following the footsteps, with panoramic shots of men on park benches. First direct cinema. 


Martin Luther march

So began Leslie’s time time with World in Action, with weekly documentaries, cut and spliced together over the weekend for Monday at 9. The urgency is there. 

Why are you marching, asks a BBC voice

‘I’m marching for my colour’ says a black boy.


Stones in the Park

Great luxury of setting the scene. I found the loitering on the face of Mike Jagar a delight after the compulsory quick cutting of today. ‘We had such arrogance’ he said ‘We were masters of the universe. ‘This machine kills Fascism’ was a note on a camera. 


Invasion of Czechoslovakia

Using the innovative drama method of conveying documentary – rein-acting, so fleshing out, adding a possibility of fiction to dampen the shock, like Death of a Princess (1980)


Massacre at Srebrenica

I delve into my paltry knowledge of the Yugoslavian war. 1995 Srebrenica under  Dutch UN soldiers protection, who did not prevent the segregation of men and women, and later some 8,000 were shot (shooting practice in the forest, locals were told) Women returning to the site.

He continued to make films for the Vanishing World, a fantastic footage of Eythiopia tribes men and a ritual. Was there any chance of your life style influencing them? None at all, he said, they considered us stupid, we could not look after ourselves, we knew nothing of the natural world. No they were not at all envious of us. 

We were 6 weeks there, dropped by a plane, and had no contact for that time. I have never before or since, felt as if time before or after existed, while I was there. We were utterly emerced in this living. 

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