This year’s festival took place on 12–15 October 2017, and was bigger and better than ever before as we expanded the festival to include all three of the museum’s cinemas. We screened films made between 1957 and 2017 in 35mm, 70mm, Cinerama and IMAX, and our special guests ranged from a rising star of student film-making to a BAFTA-winning costume designer.
On opening night, there wasn’t an empty seat to be found in Pictureville Cinema as we screened a brand new 70mm print of Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk to a sold-out audience. The film was introduced by long-time festival friend and guest curator Sir Christopher Frayling.
We love a returning hero at Widescreen Weekend—and that’s what we had this year in the shape of Anushka Naanayakkara, who gave an inspiring talk as part of our opening day of student events. At last year’s festival, we showed Anushka’s debut short film A Love Story as part of our annual Student Widescreen Film of the Year competition; it went on to win the 2017 BAFTA for Best Short Animation. Anushka spoke about her journey ‘from beginner to winner’ and shared her tips for film-making success.
We were delighted to welcome Gregory Orr, film-maker and grandson of Jack L. Warner—co-founder of the famous Warner Brothers studios. Gregory spoke about his experiences of growing up on the Warner Bros studio lots, which gave him a unique perspective on cinema’s Golden Age. In a week when the darker side of Hollywood hit headlines all over the world, Gregory’s insights into the workings of this industry felt particularly timely.
Of course, Widescreen Weekend isn’t just about film classics of the past and present. It’s also part of our mission to explore the potential future of cinema technology. This year we welcomed Stefan Vandemaele of Barco, who demonstrated the Belgian tech giant’s pioneering innovation Barco Escape. The approach, which surrounds the audience with three screens for a panoramic effect, has striking similarities to 3-strip Cinerama, so it’s apt that Stefan gave his talk in Pictureville Cinema—one of only three venues in the world that can still show Cinerama to the public.
Speaking of which: Widescreen Weekend is the only time of the year you can see Cinerama films on Pictureville’s unique curved screen. This year’s Cinerama presentation was The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm—we showed the world’s only surviving 3-panel print. Widescreen aficionados were also treated to a very rare screening of Napoléon’s triptych sequence, introduced by Kevin Brownlow, for whom restoring this masterpiece of silent film has been a lifetime’s work.
Completing our lineup of special guests was award-winning costume designer Jane Petrie. Jane has worked on a huge range of films and TV shows, spanning everything from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and 28 Weeks Later to Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror. Her personal favourite project, however, was Duncan Jones’ 2009 sci-fi debut Moon—a screening of which Jane was delighted to introduce as a follow-up to her ‘in conversation’ event.
Elsewhere, we introduced a whole new generation to the magic of widescreen with our Sunday afternoon showing of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty—the first animated film to be shown as part of the festival—which was accompanied by a creative family workshop. Widescreen Weekend guests also enjoyed the wonderful musical La La Land in spectacular IMAX, and Cubby Broccoli Cinema was packed for our screenings of Apocalypse Now Redux and Dario Argento’s Suspiria.
Widescreen Weekend will be back in October 2018. Until then, check out the rest of our snaps from the festival below, and see if you can spot yourself in the obligatory ‘audience on stage’ photo…
Photographs by Roger Moody