Tim Cole, Professor of History, University of Bristol, and Mark Cosgrove, Cinema Curator, Watershed, provide an introduction to the six-month season at Watershed reflecting on the repercussion of conflict and the ways this has been presented through film.
Last year's commemoration of the start of World War I was cause for reflection on the scale and impact of that war - and the immense global repercussions which still ripple 100 years later. The impact of war, any war, is not confined to the period between dates but goes far wider and deeper; it shapes people, society, places and politics. This programme will be the start of a conversation on many different themes, and you will be able to contribute in a variety of ways.
Presented by Watershed and cinemas across Wales, Northern Ireland and the South West & West Midlands, this six month season (Jan - June 2015) of screenings, events and online publishing will explore the wider cultural, human and socio-political repercussions of conflict and the countless ways this has been presented through film both then and now.
War is at once a test of societies and an agent of radical change. In the rubble of post-war worlds, another battle is fought between forces of conservatism longing for the restoration of a pre-war past and the forces of radicalism seizing an opportunity for creating new utopian futures out of the detritus of war.
The end result is that, tragically and ironically, post-war years can be fertile imaginative spaces of flux where new worlds are being imagined. Those new worlds can be political; the revolutionary movements that emerged across Europe in the aftermath of WW1, social; new demographic patterns and family structures, technological; – as the technology fast-tracked during war becomes available for civilian use, cultural; the rise of new art forms e.g. futurism. In the aftermath of war there is also a physical rebuilding with urban planners and architects reimagining cities amidst the rubble of the devastation.
The films we will screen throughout this six month season address the impact of war in a number of ways. We look at films made in the immediate post-war years to explore the visual and imaginative repertoire of filmmaking quite literally in the rubble (Rebels in the Rubble Sunday Brunches).
How was the ruined landscape – both literal and social – of post-world-war presented through film in the years before rebuilding? We also curate films that explore a number of the critical arenas where the impact of conflict reverberated in politics, society and culture and look at how historical conflicts have been explored in contemporary films.
Throughout the season there will be a variety of themes for exploration including: human rights violation, migration and displacement, racial tension, struggle with authority, post-traumatic stress, breakdown of family and social structure, healing and reconciliation.
As well as reflecting on the impact of World War I and II through films from the immediate post war periods and historical representations, we will bring the theme starkly up to date with a programme of partnership events and reflections on the impact of more recent conflicts and wars from across the globe from the Middle East and central Africa to Northern Ireland.
As a subject, conflict has always drawn filmmakers, whether driven by political or social ideals, or inspired by more humanitarian concerns. Now, however, with conflicts escalating across the globe, the political resonance of film is becoming ever more important; as a mechanism for observation and reportage, a means to document, a medium for comment and protest and a tool for learning and understanding.
The season runs from January until June 2015 and we will present new film releases and reissues of classics. See below for the confirmed films and events, and the multiple ways you can join the conversation. Conversations About Cinema is all about talking and reflection, and you can get involved in many different ways. We look forward to talking to you over these six months.
Further details are on the Watershed website.