DF NEWS by Lady G
Jan 2011

Closing the gap in 2011

This is the year that Dick Fontaine finally makes his long-awaited second film with Sonny Rollins while audiences in two of the world’s major capital cities reminisce on and celebrate his past achievements.

The Anthology Film Archives will host Minding the Gap: The Films of Dick Fontaine from 17 to 24 February in New York’s trendy and arty Greenwich Village. Anthology’s ten programme retrospective includes DF’s first ever political films for Granada Television, some of DF’s jazz films and the film that introduced Hip Hop to the UK, the infamous Beat This: A Hip Hop History. DF will make a personal appearance on Friday 18 February in An Evening With Dick Fontaine.

Archivist and film buff, Michael Chaiken, whose efforts have brought about Minding the Gap, is delighted that his long-term project is coming to fruition.

“I am a very big admirer of the work of Dick Fontaine, a neglected hero who’s been “minding the gap” in a provocative fashion between the two cultures of the UK and the US, and between form and content.  In the Sixties, DF captured The Beatles before Beatlemania, the creation of the fantasy of Swinging London and the birth of the Sun newspaper. I’m very excited about this retrospective.”

New York University is commemorating the great African-American author James Baldwin this year in the conference “James Baldwin’s Global Imagination”. Having made a seminal film about his friend JB (I Heard It Through the Grapevine), DF has been approached to screen, introduce and discuss the film at NYU on Saturday 19 February. Grapevine is a poetic journey featuring James and his brother David as they look back at the civil rights movement and what remains of it.

In London, the BFI, also gearing up for a retrospective of DF’s works, will appetise UK audiences with two of DF’s political films – Death of a Revolutionary and I Heard it Through the Grapevine. The former will be shown on Saturday 5 February and Grapevine will be shown on Saturday 19 March.

As if that’s not enough excitement for one month, February is also the month DF tutors at the Berlinale Talent Campus (12-17 February) and struts his stuff at his NFTS students’ graduation screenings, also at the BFI. This year’s grad event takes place on Wednesday 23 February and will again welcome the industry’s great and good to some of the best ever work produced by NFTS documentary students.

Sonny Rollins: Who I Am, What I Do is due for completion at the end of May 2011 and will be screened by BBC Arena on the niche arts channel BBC4.

That was the year that was

2010 was another full on year. Apart from driving students crazy at the NFTS, DF also Exec-produced Diaspora Calling, shot and directed by George Amponsah, produced and presented by Gugulethu Mseleku and edited by Jane Hodge. Produced, shot and edited in six weeks for two 30 minute slots for international transmission, Diaspora Calling followed Gugulethu on a journey through the African Diaspora in Europe to discover what Africans felt about the World Cup 2010, which was held in an African country for the first time in history.

DF also Exec-produced Rolling Steel, a ten-minute short written and directed by Kyle Simpson and produced by Gugulethu Mseleku for the Screen West Midlands digi-shorts programme. Kyle wanted to make a film that told the story of a gun from dealer to the death of a young black man. He based Rolling Steel on his discovery from Home Office records that large numbers of handguns disappear mysteriously from police custody. The film explains how those guns might end up on the streets.

During a trip to New York  in September to shoot the 80th birthday concert of the Saxophone Collosus, Sonny Rollins, DF received news that Handsworth Calling, which he Exec-produced for Channel4 and SWM in 2009, had won the Social Responsibility Award at the Black International Film Festival.

Sonny’s extraordinary 80th birthday concert, held at the Beacon Theatre, featured Jim Hall, Sonny’s old partner on guitar, the legendary Roy Haynes on drums and the surprise guest of the night, the other saxophone giant, Ornette Coleman. DF said about the event,
“This was magic – the first two people I made jazz films with over 40 years ago, together for the first time on stage, and here I was filming it. A spectacular deja vu experience!”

This concert will form part of a major feature length film with Sonny, provisionally titled Sonny Rollins: Who I Am, What I Do, to be shown in the UK on BBC Arena and yet to be decided venues elsewhere during 2011.

News by Lady G

Jan 11