Vertigo Café

CA Short Film Initiative

At the end of January the ICA begins a policy of screening short films with features whenever possible. In collaboration with the BFI, they will show fiction, animation and possibly documentaries. The first short film in the programme will be Chris Rodley’s Tropical Fish, an adaptation of a Raymond Carver short story. It will precede Suture, by first-time directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel. Great to see the short back on our cinema screens again!

Lonrho and the Vanishing Cinemas

Eighteen months ago Camden Town in North London had two thriving independent cinemas, the Parkway and the Plaza. They occupied neighbouring sites in a block owned by Sunley Tariff (a subsidiary of Lonrho), whose plans to develop the land has long made the cinemas’ future uncertain. We reported in Vertigo 3 that Sunley Tariff declined to renew the Parkway’s lease and in August 1993 evicted the proprietor, Peter Walker. In Autumn 1994 Andi Engel, the Plaza’s proprietor, announced that he had accepted Sunley Tariff’s terms for a year’s extension of its lease. But the landlords instead sent the bailiffs in, shutting down the Plaza as abruptly as they had the Parkway. Now Camden town has no cinema. We wish local residents, film-makers and Camden Council success in their search for a solution which will lead to the re-opening of both cinemas.

Film City at King’s Cross?

Camden Council is also preparing a bid to the Millennium Commission for a £75-million telecommunications complex and multimedia development on the much-disputed King’s Cross site. National Freight, which owns the land, is behind the bid and British Telecom is a major partner. The National Film School is interested in relocating to the site and overtures have been made to the BFI about new premises for itself and MOMI. A teleconferencing centre and a Wembley-style arena are proposed. Visionary concept or another Canary Wharf? As a piece of planning, the scheme does not sound quite in tune with the proposals put forward by local community groups. But what might it do for film culture? Will it help local community media groups? Who will be consulted? The deadline for the draft proposal is March and the final submission, Easter. Not much time!

Good News for a Change!

The BFI’s Black Film Bulletin has reached Vol. 2 Issue 3 (Autumn 1994), which examines the ‘substance behind the term “Asian Diaspora Film” and British-Asian film.’ Following the recent showcasing of films by Ritwik Ghatak and Guru Dutt in London and Birmingham, the BFI will be bring films by Ritwik Ghatak into distribution in 1995: Meghe Dhaka Tara (The Cloud Capped Star, 1960); Subarnarekha (The Golden Line, 1965); Jukti Takko Aar Gappo (Reason, Argument and Story, 1974); and, possibly, Titash Ekti Nadir Naam (Titash is the Name of a River, 1973).

Sheffield International Documentary Festival

The 95 Festival will be centred in The Showroom, Britain’s newest media centre and provide a unique and vital platform for everyone involved with documentary film. It comprises both a Delegate Weekend and a week-long festival. The four screens offer a wide choice of films – plus special events, guest presentations and master classes with top documentarists. Many of the screenings will be UK (and sometimes international) premieres. Sergio Goldenburg from Brazil will bring the most exciting Latin American films and film-makers to Sheffield and Paris’s François Niney will present a European showcase featuring a wealth of Eastern European work otherwise unavailable in this country. For further information contact: Paula Shirley, Festival Director, Sheffield International Documentary Festival, The Workstation, 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield S1 2BX

European Film Magazines Meeting

The third annual meeting of European Film Magazines was held in Salzburg from 29 November until 2 December and organised by the Graz-based Blimp magazine (Austria). Vertigo was among the 14 magazines who attended. Diverse interests were represented – from the Romanian Noul Cinema to Trafic from France. A number of projects are being set up as a result of the conference:

1) 100th Anniversary of Cinema project – Each magazine will commission and publish two articles: one looking at the first 100 years of cinema from the perspective of their country, and the second looking at the current situation of cinema in their country.

2) Organisation of an information pool – Synopses of the contents of participating magazines will be prepared for distribution.

3) Setting up of a ‘conceptual encyclopaedia’ page – Participating magazines each devote space to contributions all addressing the same concept.

4) CULTSERV is an Internet server being set up by some Blimp people to provide theoretical, critical and general information on film and film culture in a hypertext format.

Declaration of European Film Journals

Salzburg, 30 Nov 1994

‘We, editors of European film journals, are meeting in Salzburg, Austria, at present to discuss possibilities for international co-operation.

‘One editor, unfortunately, is missing: the editor of the journal Sineast – a journal made in the former Yugoslavian city of Sarajevo. It is on behalf of that journal that we write you this letter.

‘Producing a journal in wartime would seem impossible. However, even with the city under siege, the editors of Sineast managed to publish a few issues. But the problems they are facing in continuing their much-appreciated social and cultural task are immense. Everything is scarce – goods, materials, services and money. In order for the journal to survive these difficult times, it needs all the help it can get. From us and from others.

In heartfelt solidarity with Sineast, we, the editors of European film journals, ask you to respond sympathetically to Sineast’s accompanying plea for help: we would of course be happy to acknowledge your help in the next edition of our journals’. Signed by,

Film Faust (Germany)

Film und Frensehen Kosorama (Denmark)

Balkan Media (Bulgaria)

Trafic (France)

Vertigo (GB)

Filmbulletin (Switzerland)

Kinovedcheskije Noul Cinema (Romania)

Blimp (Austria)

Chaplin Magazine (Sweden)

Film & Doba (Czech Republic)

Skrien (Netherlands)

If you can make a contribution, contact: Mieke Bernink; Skrien; Vondelpark 3; 1071 AA Amsterdam; Phone: (0)20 - 6 893 831 or (0)20 - 6 890 438; email:

The Digital Underground

Is the future of cinema interactive? A series of screenings at the National Film Theatre offers a season of recent work by electronic artists presented by Film and Video Umbrella starting with David Blair’s Waxweb on 30 January and continuing with dates in February and March.

Who’s John Ford?

Walter Donohue, editor of Faber & Faber’s film list, recently turned down Bertrand Tavernier’s award-winning book, Amis Américains, a collection of conversations with major Hollywood directors and writers, including Ford and Houston. His reason: there would not be a large enough audience for it in Britain because, for most Faber readers, ‘the history of cinema begins with Taxi Driver’.