In January I made tracks to WORLD WOMAN in Oslo.
This was a gathering of trouble-makers and peace-makers, activists and artists, billed as Courage and Creativity – Voices of Women Worldwide. It was the brain-child of the formidable and wonderful Deeyah Khan, Emmy-award-winning documentary-maker, human rights activist and Queen of Making Things Happen. It was an intimate global gathering of solidarity – politics and music, conversations and performances – warm inside while icy out.
In June I was on a panel at the SHEFFIELD DOC/FEST, discussing how directors keep control (or lose it!) in the cutting room, sharing our own best and worst experiences. This was organised by Directors UK and chaired by Tom Roberts, renowned film-maker and executive producer, formerly of October Films. The other panellists were Kirby Dick, who directed The Hunting Ground and Mike Todd, whose Hustlers’ Convention was in the festival.
We discussed how best to create the situation Directors UK campaigns for – that the director is in charge of all three stages of a film, planning, shooting and editing. How to hold your own when it seems that all around are trying to control you? Collaboration, negotiation and standing your ground – best to make sure it is solid.
In September I was on the jury at the prestigious PRIX ITALIA, held in Turin. It was the television performing arts jury – we had to choose one winner for a music and arts documentary award, one for a filmed performance. We fought over the documentary prize – some preferring a simple, even minimal film about a Flemish Moroccan dancer whose father could not accept his dancing, let alone his homosexuality; others championing a more theatrical and flamboyant Polish film about Jews singing and dancing in the face of death – putting on shows in the ghettos and concentration camps of World War Two. The Polish film won – The Cabaret of Death, directed by Andrzej Celiński.
With the performance category it was easier: we chose Our Gay Wedding: The Musical, made for Channel 4, written and performed by the men who were getting married . The happy couple came to Turin to collect their award, in their acceptance speech politely pointing out that Italy is not yet a country where they COULD get married.
For the KEW LITERARY FESTIVAL in September, I interviewed on stage Judith Kerr, the 92 year old children’s book illustrator and writer, about whom I made the film Hitler, the Tiger and Me. We have become great friends, and it was a treat talking to her about her latest book Mister Cleghorn’s Seal, which is based on something that happened to her beloved father, the author Alfred Kerr – he really did keep a seal pup in the bath, and told the story to an entranced Judith not long before they had to flee Berlin when Hitler took power in 1933.
In October I went to Naples for ARTECINEMA – an annual festival of films about art. This year they showed The Art That Hitler Hated, about what the Nazis called degenerate art, their attempt to destroy it and the recent discovery of a treasure trove of pictures from that period stashed away in a Munich flat by a strange old man who rarely ventured out.
The festival also opened with a screening of my film about Jeff Koons, The Diary of a Seducer, in the high baroque opera house in Naples.
Back in Britain, in November, I was on the panel at the first ever festival of films by or about women over 50 – THE SHORT HOT FLUSH FILM FESTIVAL. I qualify on both counts – am over 50, and have made many films featuring older women – Doris Lessing, Louise Bourgeois, Diana Athill, Judith Kerr, Toni Morrison …
The festival, in Brighton, celebrated older women either on the screen or as filmmakers. A flying start to what should become an annual event.