This year the Young Programmers team here at Storyhouse have been tasked with putting together the annual Our North season, a collection of films that in someway celebrate the north of England in film. One of our Young Programmers, Matt, talks us through their choices.
Every year Film Hub North sets out a brief for exhibitors here in the North to celebrate Northern-ness on screen. Intentionally, this brief is kept vague and open to interpretation. After much deliberation, myself and my fellow Young Programmers opted to delve into the world of Cult cinema, wanting to champion either cult classics with diehard fan bases or seldom seen films that we can bring to new audiences.
The seasons kicks off with The Falling, a psychological drama by Stockport’s Carol Morley. This selection has been championed by Liam of the team, who admires the film for it’s “dark and honest themes which help to showcase the north in a very alternative and raw sense”. Staring Maisie Williams and Florence Pugh, alongside northern treasure Maxine Peak, Liam describes the film as “gripping”, and not to be missed.
Following on from this is Withnail and I, a film which was instantly agreed upon by all involved. One of the greatest ever British comedy films, it is an honour to finally be able to bring this to the Storyhouse screen. Set in the Cumbrian countryside, two out of work actors, portrayed by Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann, go on a disastrous holiday “by mistake”. Upon suggesting this title, we discovered that numerous people had requested for it to be shown, so we are very happy that we can make those wishes come true.
Next in the season is a film that I put forward, The Living Dead at The Manchester Morgue. I don’t think it gets much more “cult” than this film. It is a hidden gem of the horror/zombie genre, but also an amazingly abstract view of the North. An Italian horror film, by a Spanish director, set in the 70s in the rural outskirts of Manchester of all places. I think it must be the most uniquely strange view of northern England to exist in cinema. Two hippies become suspect to a series of brutal murders, unbeknownst to the authorities the real culprits are flesh-eating zombies, bought to life by radioactive pesticides. As Northern as chips and gravy, right?
The season concludes with Some Voices a film which Young Programmer Zara is particularly passionate about. She explains:
“We chose Some Voices as it’s an underrated British movie from 2000 which focuses on mental health and relationships, something that a lot of films get wrong by romanticising mental illness, which this film turns away from. The film balances Ray’s schizophrenia and his relationship with his brother and new girlfriend. It’s playful, serious but uplifting. It stars Chester born Daniel Craig and Liverpudlian David Morrisey.”
We are very proud of the selection of films to be screened and hope that it encourages audiences to look at the north in a new light. Tickets are on sale now and we hope you join us for Our North.
By Matthew Beckett
This project is supported by Film Hub North, proud to be a member of the BFI Film Audience Network.