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Storyhouse Young Programmers present Rebel Rebel Artists

Story written by Kelsey Draper

This April, the Storyhouse Young Programmers are excited to take over the Storyhouse Cinema with Rebel Rebel Artists – a weekend of films and events showcasing iconic artists who have gone against the grain and challenged societal expectations. Storyhouse Young Programmer Kelsey Draper tells us about their cinema takeover.

With social media being a normal part of everyday life for the majority of us, it is easier now than ever before to hear alternative voices, actively oppose the mainstream and find power as a collective. We have found inspiration through this and have put together an exciting season of films to celebrate some of the radical figures who defied the mainstream through their art and helped shape the world as we know it. From musicians to artists to writers, Rebel Rebel Artists celebrates an array of voices who have used their creativity to elicit change in their respective fields, as well as society itself.

Our season kicks off on Friday with a look at some of the most influential women in music, with screenings of The Runaways (2010) and Back to Black (2024).

Based on the autobiography of the band’s lead vocalist, Cherie Currie, The Runaways (2010) follows the growth of the iconic 70s all-female rock band, The Runaways, primarily focusing on the relationship between Currie and guitarist Joan Jett. At just 15 and 16 years old, Currie and Jett were thrown into the dark and complicated world of rock ‘n’ roll, and the rest is history. With outstanding performances from stars Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning, paired with the raw and smoky aesthetic of being captured on 16mm film, The Runaways completely immerses us into the vibrant rock scene of 1970s America. We felt this story was a perfect way to kick off the Rebel Rebel Artists season, celebrating this legendary band who took the male-centric world of rock ‘n’ roll and turned it on its head.

A notable new release accompanying this short season of films is Back to Black (2024), the story of one of Britain’s most beloved female musicians, Amy Winehouse. A combination of her unique, soulful voice and her distinctive look and personality established Winehouse as a talent like no other, collecting countless awards over her life for her incredible music. The film presents the highs and lows of Winehouse’s complicated life and career, but most importantly celebrates the artist for all we know and love her for – her talent, her wit and her honesty. The through line of the Rebel Rebel Artists season, we are excited to present screenings of Back to Black on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning in The Runaways (2010)
Marisa Abela as Amy Winehouse in Back to Black (2024)

Saturday is packed with artistic beauty, with screenings of Loving Vincent (2017), Emily (2022) and Moonage Daydream (2022).

Bringing the iconic paintings of Vincent Van Gogh to life through 65,000 hand-painted frames, Loving Vincent (2017) is a groundbreaking experimental animation which uncovers the complicated life and death of the world’s most well-loved artist. While known predominantly for his distinctive artistic style, Van Gogh is also a symbol of the ‘tortured artist’ trope, having struggled greatly with his mental health and spending much time in solitude to focus on his work. Loving Vincent reframes what we know about the artist himself, and we felt compelled to celebrate Van Gogh’s revolutionary style and the lasting influence he has had on society through his art.

Taking a breather among this abundance of visual art, Emily (2022) presents the quiet beauty of rural rebellion with the story of novelist and poet, Emily Brontë. While her only novel, Wuthering Heights, is now considered a classic of English literature, little is known about Brontë herself. A mysterious figure known for her reclusive nature, this film blends fact with fiction to explore Emily’s experiences of life, love and loss. Directed by Frances O’Connor, this female-led film presents the power of finding a voice through artistic expression, and we believe Emily Brontë to be an influential figure of rebellion, who didn’t shy away from challenging societal beliefs through her work.

Changing the tone to a kaleidoscopic audio-visual feast, Moonage Daydream (2022) takes us on a cinematic odyssey to celebrate the creative journey of music legend, David Bowie. A chameleon of rock, Bowie was known for constantly reinventing his style through his music and image, shifting into various different personas to explore new genres and challenging traditional gender norms through his eccentric use of fashion and makeup. Utilising a montage style to combine interviews, live performances and archival footage, this unconventional documentary perfectly demonstrates how Bowie continuously pushed the world of art forward, and is a cinematic experience that will fill all of your senses.

Our Sunday screenings highlight some figures in the art world who may be lesser known to many – My Left Foot (1989) and Tove (2020).

Adapted from the autobiography of the same name, My Left Foot (1989) shares the story of the Irish writer and painter, Christy Brown. A somewhat forgotten artist, Brown was born with cerebral palsy and learned to write, type, and paint with his left foot, the only limb he had effective control of. This unique and honest biopic is not afraid to highlight the ableist views of the time and acts as an accurate representation of people living with cerebral palsy, something which is very rarely explored in mainstream media. An emotional yet empowering story, we are excited to celebrate Brown and the legacy he left through his incredible work.

Everyone knows and loves the Moomins, or is at least familiar with the charming troll family, but do you know who is behind their creation? In this final screening of the season, Tove (2020) explores the life of Tove Jansson, the Finnish illustrator and author who invented the fantastical world of the Moomins. Directed by Zaida Bergroth, this captivating drama follows Jansson’s struggles as an emerging artist, as well as her complicated love life of affairs and same-sex relationships at a time when they were illegal. Together, we felt it was an ideal end to the Rebel Rebel Artists season – an emotional yet quietly uplifting story, honouring this hugely influential artist, who acted as a symbol of progress through both her work and her personal life.

Daniel Day-Lewis as Christie Brown in My Left Foot (1989)
Alma Pöysti as Tove Jansson in Tove (2020)

This is a season that will encourage you to get your creative juices flowing and find change in your own way – everyone has a rebel within that is waiting to break free!

Story written by Young Storyhouse Programmer Kelsey Draper.