What is Discover Tuesdays and why should people come to FACT to see this series of films?
Discover Tuesdays is a programme of films shown at Picturehouse cinemas around the UK. It is a mix of foreign language features, documentaries and cult classics. What is unique about Discover Tuesdays at FACT is that members of the audience meet in the bar afterwards to reflect on the film over a cuppa (or an alcoholic drink, depending on the film!)
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got involved with FACT?
I was always a regular at FACT since the building opened in 2003. I worked in the cinema for a few years and then was asked back to host the Discover Tuesdays nights. I'm a bit of a movie obsessive: I studied film at Liverpool John Moores University and I've worked for organisations like Cineclub and Into Film, visiting schools around the country to introduce young people to a wide range of different films, and to help them make their own films too.
What can visitors expect from the film discussion after the film?
Friendly faces, a relaxed atmosphere and an interesting chat about the film. We usually end up talking about other films (and occasionally other subjects entirely). Quite a few lasting friendships have grown from Discover Tuesdays since we started two years ago.
Is it a club?
No, I wouldn't characterise it as a club, since you don't have to be a member - anyone can come along and join in and we're always really pleased to see new faces.
Do I need to be a proper film buff to attend / should I hide my love of Frozen?
Not at all! As long as you've seen the film that night, you'll be more than qualified to join in. There have been occasions when we've not really known what to make of the film and have spent the evening trying to make sense of it, and other times when we've found ourselves debating whether it was any good or not. It's all just about your response to the film, positive or negative - we're interested to hear everyone's views.
Can you tell us about some of your favourite classic and cult movies?
I could spend all day answering this question. I love the Coen Brothers' films, especially The Big Lebowski and The Hudsucker Proxy, which I'm looking forward to seeing performed at the Playhouse later this year. I'm a big admirer of James Cagney too. Angels With Dirty Faces is probably my favourite of his movies.
If you could turn one book into a film, what would it be?
It sounds strange but it'd be Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange. I love Stanley Kubrick and his adaptation is one of my favourite films but, although it's full of iconic images, it's not especially faithful to the novel and I think there's room for another version.
If you could erase one film from cinematic history, which would you choose and why?
There was a Discover Tuesday film last year that I'd happily consign to the bin, but perhaps I shouldn't name it! We dined out on trash-talk-ing about it for a long time afterwards though, so even bad films have their role in life.
You also love to write about film. Tell us a bit about the books you have coming out in the BFI Screen Guides series!
A few years ago I visited the gift shop at BFI Southbank hoping to buy a book about films for my son, Luke. They didn't have what I was looking for so I approached the BFI with a proposal to develop a book entitled 100 Films to Watch Before You Grow Up. I've tried to include a broad variety of films from different countries and from different eras of cinema, from Georges Méliès to Martin Scorsese.
During the development of the book, my son turned 13 so we graduated to watching a lot of teen movies, which led to a second project. 100 Films to Get You Through Your Teens is a sort of cinematic self-help guide to the films that I hope will help navigate readers through the tempestuous waters of adolescence. Both books are due to be published later this year as part of the BFI's Screen Guides series.
What movies are you most looking forward to for 2015?
I'm very excited about the new Star Wars movie. I'm especially encouraged by the casting of John Boyega, who was outstanding in Attack the Block. There's a French film called Girlhood that I'm very interested to see too - it's written and directed by Céline Sciamma, whose film Tomboy is one of my 100 Films to Watch Before Your Grow Up. The Discover Tuesday film I'm most looking forward to is the Swedish comedy, A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, which we're showing on 21 July. That said, the whole point is discovering new films that have escaped the hype, so who knows what gems the next few weeks will uncover.
And finally, which films would you recommend to see at FACT this month?
I'll be taking my son to see Jurassic World - that ought to be interesting. Samba looks very promising - it has an excellent cast with Omar Sy, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Tahar Rahim. If you haven't seen Freaks, I'd recommend catching the Vintage Sundays screening on on 24 May: a brilliant, fascinating and unsettling film. Finally, I'm looking forward to another Vintage Sunday flick, Piccadilly, which featured in Love is All, an archive film that was in our Discover Tuesdays programme in February. I haven't seen it before but I saw enough to suggest it's worth a look.
Our next Discover Tuesdays film is German Concentration Camps Factual Survey (on which Alfred Hitchcock worked as a treatment advisor) screening on 5 May. There are no DT discussions on the first Tuesday of the month, but the week after we'll be getting to grips with The Beat Beneath My Feet.
Follow Ben on Twitter @thefilmman for movie news, updates about his books or just to say hi.