Ahead of the Spring season of films (starting 24 January), Worcester Arts Workshop speaks to Mikel Koven from Splendid Cinema, to find out the whys and whats behind his exciting programming of international and independent films.
Why do you choose the films you choose?
Mikel: The selection process for Splendid Cinema is always a difficult one. Over the course of the year, I keep up-to-date with world cinema by reading magazines like Sight & Sound and keeping abreast of what is happening at film festivals around the world. I listen to the buzz regarding films which might be appropriate for the Splendid audience. It is always something of a tightrope walk in actually choosing the films: one the one hand, I want to bring the best of world cinema to Worcester, films which would never play at the Odeon or the Vue because they’re not in English or seen to be “of limited interest”. But I also need to choose films which people have heard about, or which have a built in audience, like our upcoming film The Tribe which is particularly relevant to our hearing-impaired communities.
Why are you so passionate about films?
I know it is a cliché, but film is my life. It always has been, since I was a very young child. I’ve always been movie-mad. Cinema is the great unifier of people; when we sit around the virtual campfire and listen to each other’s stories, we share a communal experience in the global village. Sometimes the stories are familiar, and sometimes they are completely unique. But watching a film says “I want to hear your story”, and I truly believe we become better people for it.
Why people should come to Splendid Cinema?
Splendid Cinema is the only independent cinema space in Worcester, the only place in the Faithful City where international and independent films are screened. Films which are different from the mainstream cinema of Hollywood. My favourite audiences for Splendid Cinema are those who come who know nothing about the film, sometimes they don’t even remember what the film is called, they just trust what we screen will offer them an experience they’ll not get anywhere else in Worcester. Much of international cinema is now screened inside the home, through DVDs or streaming platforms like Netflix, which is great. But there is nothing equal to watching a film in a communal space, in the dark, where 30 strangers share an experience. That’s what Splendid Cinema is all about.
What’s up next and why?
Next up is Pasolini (Abel Ferrara, 2014): I chose this film for several reasons, which can be summarized in three words: Pasolini, Ferrara & Dafoe. First of all, Pier Paolo Pasolini is one of my favourite filmmakers (I even did my undergraduate independent study on him, back in the day), so a film about his final 24 hours in the middle of the controversy surrounding his latest film, Salo or 120 Days of Sodom (1975) is motivating in its own right. Secondly, American filmmaker, Abel Ferrara, is tremendous independent auteurs, and whose films like The Driller Killer (1979), The Addiction (1995), Ms. 45 (1982), Bad Lieutenant (1992) and The King of New York (1990)are recognized classics of American independent and exploitation cinema since the late 1970s; so his latest film was always going to attract my attention. Thirdly, Willem Dafoe stars at Pasolini; one of my favourite actors as one of my favourite directors. Ferrara treats the sordid details of Pasolini’s death with sensitivity and respect, and Dafoe’s performance as the famous director is astonishing. I’m really proud to be presenting Pasolini at Splendid Cinema on 24 January.
Splendid Cinema screens at Worcester Arts Workshop (21 Sansome Street, Worcester, WR1 1UH) at 18:00. Tickets are £5 on the door.