Kris, Mark and Owen run SeventySeven, a Tuesday evening film club held in the basement of the Arts House Cafe.
What is SeventySeven, and how did you start?
Kris: Me and Owen used to do film nights together, and we’d introduce each other to films we were interested in. We’d been doing this for a long time, since 2008, when then the opportunity came to do it publicly at the South Bank club in Bedminster.
Our first screening, The Passion of Joan of Ark (1928) was October 2013, followed by a double bill of Peter Watkins films.
We moved to Stokes Croft in April 2014. South Bank was a great venue, but it felt kind of isolated, so we moved to this more central location in Stokes Croft, where you’re more in the thick of things.
Mark: I’d been aware of SeventySeven for a while. I used to see their film posters in and around Bedminster, and thought it’s something that I should be going along to. At the time, I was screening films myself film for LinkAge in the the South Bank, but it wasn’t until February 2014 that I went to a SeventySeven night.
I remember the first screening I went to was Matsumoto’s Funeral Parade of Roses (1969). I turned up at screenings regularly, we talked about films and I ended up getting more and more involved.
Funeral Parade of Roses (1969)
Your programme is one of the most ambitious – and eclectic – in Bristol. How do you choose your films?
Owen: All three of us are into films generally, but each of us has specific areas that we specialise in. Kris is knows way more about silent films than I do. I like really psychedelic British films, 70s American films and crazy Japanese stuff. I also really like European art house.
Mark: It’s quite educational for me. I’ve seen a lot of films myself; when i was at University, I studied art history, but I also did a cinema module. I’ve also liked films since i was a kid – all of us have.
Specifically, I like a lot of French and Italian cinema, but together we have eclectic tastes with varied intellectual interests. Kris has a philosophy background, Owen is a musician, I’m interested in the visual arts, and i think our film choices reflect this.
Kris: Theres no real method to our choices really, other than avoiding the well known stuff.
Bladerunner (1982) is one of my favourite films, but there’s no real pleasure in showing that. It’s much more of a pleasure to show lesser known films. We’re just interested in showing things we like, and that we think people will like.
Owen: Yeah, big cinemas show that stuff. There are lots of cinemas around Bristol, and we just want to offer something different, we want to have our own thing.
Mark: That’s not to say we’ll never screen something that’s well known. Very occasionally we will. We played Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) this Halloween, for instance. But Kris is right, screening films that are lesser known or obscure, probably for many reasons, unjustly so, is important to us. It’s revelatory, really. You see things and just think, why is this not more talked about?
You’ve screened some very challenging films in the past. Have any of your screenings seen a strong reaction from the audience, positive or negative?
Owen: We screened Peter Watkin’s The War Game (1965), which is a faux nuclear war documentary.That, I think, is one of the most terrifying films I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s like being punched in the face for 45 minutes.
Kris: Another one of our biggest screenings was The Other Side of the Underneath (1972), a feminist film about schizophrenia. It’s an extreme British art house film, which turned out to be really popular.
Kris: we had a group three or four walk out of that. They went to see a Terry Gilliam film at the Cube, which had sold out, so they sent them to us. They left. But to be honest, most films we show aren’t extreme at all. Just the odd one or two.
Mark: It is surprising. This year we showed a film by Marco Ferreri – Le Grande Bouffe (1973), and I was amazed at the number of people that came to that. It’s a fun film, it’s pretty nihilistic – it’s about four men who come together, enjoy the company of these prostitutes and eat themselves to death – but someone walked out of that screening.
There was one chap who stood up, and just said ‘no’, and walked out. A very nice guy. Actually, we haven’t seen him for a while. In fact, the more i think about it, i don’t think we’ve seen him since Le Grande Bouffe. But that was one of our walkouts. And I like the idea that you can create an environment for lively debate and disagreement.
What’s your biggest source of inspiration for your programming?
Kris: Well the internet is really our biggest resource, plus all books and documentaries about film. One thing leads to another, and sometimes films just fall into your lap. You could be looking up one film, and that leads to another film, which leads to something else.
Mark: I go to the Watershed and the Cube a lot, but the biggest resource for me is probably 20th Century Flicks. I’d go once a week and rent maybe a couple of films.
Kris: Second Run is also a great resource. It’s amazing. It leads you from one great film to another.
Owen. And let’s not forget friends.
Mark: Yes word of mouth as well. Kris and Owen have introduced me to a lot, and vice versa.
Owen: That’s been the best experience for me, being part of this film club. Kris has screened old silent films that I might not necessarily have chosen to watch myself, but we’ve screened them and i’ve just been blown away by them.
Do you ever put on film nights outside the Arts House?
Kris: We did three screenings for Scalarama in Cafe Kino. Last year we did a screening of Savage Witches (2012), which was a homage to Dasies (1966), and we did live music for that. Owen played, along with a couple of friends…
Mark: …and this year we screened a film by an Iranian film director who lives in Dublin, Rouzbeh Rashidi, who has own group called The Experimental Film Society, and makes films himself. I’ve been aware of his work for some years, so I emailed him and we ended up showing his 2012 film, He (2012).
Kris – I talked with our friend Angus, who’s a musician, I asked him if he’d mind doing a score to a film called The Goddess, a silent Chinese film from 1934, and he did a live piano score. I think it’s my favourite screening to date. It’s not necessarily the best film we’ve shown, but it was just a great event.
Savage Witches (2012)
Can I have three film recommendations?
Owen: F for Fake (1973, Orson Welles), Punishment Park (1971, Peter Watkins) and Performance (1970, Nicholas Roeg).
Kris: Loss of Sensation (1935, Aleksandr Andrijewski), Hortobágy (1936, George Hoellering) and Evil Speak (1981, Eric Weston).
Mark: Patton (1970, Franklin J. Schaffner), Le Feu Follet (1963, Lous Malle), Who Can Kill a Child (1976, Narciso Ibáñez Serrador) and The House that Screamed (1969, Narciso Ibáñez Serrador). Oh, that’s four.