Hyde Park Picks
With cinemas now closed and screenings on hold, it’s a tough time for the UK film industry. Thankfully a growing number of top independent films are available to stream from home – often for free – allowing you to continue discovering & supporting filmmaking talent from around the world.
With this in mind we’re launching Hyde Park Picks – daily recommendations from the Hyde Park Picture House, of some of the best films available online. With picks coming from staff & volunteers at the Picture House, we’ll sometimes include added extras alongside recommendations – from recorded introductions & live-streamed discussions, to further reading and related watching.
3rd April, 2020
Ben Wheatley Double:
Happy New Year, Colin Burstead & Kill List
This Friday we’re recommending two films from one of our favourite British directors – Ben Wheatley.
We’ve had the pleasure of hosting a number of memorable Q&As with Ben Wheatley over the years – including most recently for a Leeds International Film Festival screening of Happy New Year, Colin Burstead – our first #HydeParkPick.
Packed with often very funny, rapid-fire dialogue and great performances from an impressive ensemble, this dysfunctional family drama is available for free via BBC iPlayer.
And a family drama of a very different kind is our second #HydeParkPick – one of the most impressive British horrors of recent times – Wheatley’s outstanding Kill List. The less said about the film (before seeing it) the better. Just trust us, it’s an experience you won’t forget. Available for free via Film4.
2nd April, 2020
Our daily film recommendations continue! And today's #HydeParkPick comes from our lovely front of house coordinator Eleanor!
“Four years since its UK release by Curzon Artificial Eye, now feels like a good time to look back at Mustang – the remarkably strong debut feature from director Deniz Gamze Ergüven.
Mustang is the story of five orphaned sisters in a remote, rural Turkish village being cared for by their conservative relatives. The film could be seen as a coming of age story, or, a film that reflects on childhood. For me, this makes the decisions Ergüven makes in her filmmaking ever more powerful. Ergüven firmly deals with the stark polarities between these childhood moments in life, especially within the context of the conservative views of the adult relatives in Mustang.
In the opening scene, we find the sisters playing on a beach after school. The scene plays out in what would feel like in most other films as the relief you find midway through or at the end. Instead, we are introduced to the five sisters with this joyful depiction of adolescence and freedom before it is then taken away and twisted into something considered less innocent. Although a sad and claustrophobic-feeling film, Mustang comes through with some really brilliant depictions of childhood and how situations would be understood through a child’s eye, namely Lale, who is the main protagonist and narrator of the five sisters. In one early confrontation around being seen as too promiscuous and flirtatious by their grandmother, Lale exclaims 'these chairs touched our arseholes! Are you ashamed?’. It’s these rebellious moments and outbursts that punctuate the film’s stifling and oppressive atmosphere, which makes it so brilliant.”
1st April, 2020
Today’s #HydeParkPick is System Crasher, a brilliant piece of new German cinema by director Nora Fingscheidt, who won the Silver Bear at last year’s Berlinale - Berlin International Film Festival.
System Crasher was to be distributed to cinema's by the fab 606 Distribution, but its now available to stream via Curzon Artificial Eye's Home Cinema player.
The film follows wild 9-year-old Benni, as her ups and downs see her crashing against the limitations of both a parent and a care system which are unable to support her or give her the love she craves.
For post-film watching, a great little Q&A with Helena Zengel who plays Benni – available via Vimeo.
And don't forget, here in Leeds Leeds City Council is proactive with their support for looked after children and we’ve loved working with their Foster4Leeds team to host annual Christmas screenings for their families over recent years. We’re very proud to see our Council working to ensure the commitment to being a Child Friendly City doesn’t leave anyone behind.
31st March, 2020
This inspiring doc follows Freddy McConnell's pioneering quest to start his own family & the huge challenges he faces doing this as a trans man.
We were honoured to host a special Q&A screening of the film last year with Birds Eye View: A Pathfinder For Films By Women – who continue to champion films made by woman via #ReclaimTheFrame. Seeing how audiences responded in such a positive way to this important film was one of our highlight’s of 2019.
For some fantastic additional viewing, head to West Yorkshire Queer Stories for their amazing catalogue of locally produced films – including many inspiring stories from the trans & non-binary community, who we’re proud to stand in solidarity with today.
30th March, 2020
The Queen of Versailles & The Kingmaker
In 2018, in conjunction with Village, we screened Generation Wealth – a damning yet entertaining critique of excessive wealth by the brilliant photographer & filmmaker Lauren Greenfield.
Notions of celebrity, money & power are common themes in Greenfield’s work, including in two more of her films – which are today's Picks.
The first film, available for free on BBC iPlayer, is Greenfield’s superb 2012 documentary The Queen of Versailles – winner of many accolades including Sundance’s Directing Award.
Like with Generation Wealth the film is a mesmerising look at a celebrity culture obsessed with fortune & where the extremes of the American Dream can lead to when left unchecked.
And available on both the BFI Player & Curzon Home Cinema is The Kingmaker – Greenfield's latest & perhaps her most impressive. The documentary centres on the indomitable & shocking character of Imelda Marcos & her family’s improbable return to power in the Philippines.
“[A] tragic picture of tyranny & corruption in the Philippines that might stand alongside Josh Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing” – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
28th March, 2020
Our Pick for today is a fantastic Yorkshire short film called Seagulls. We first saw this one in the Yorkshire Short Film Competition programme at last year’s Leeds International Film Festival, but it’s director Ben G. Brown has decided to make the film available for everyone to watch for free on Vimeo from today.
Seagulls captures the wonderful work of Seagulls Paint on Kirkstall Road who are working to make the world better by simultaneously recycling paint and giving people the opportunity to participate. Full to the brim of compassion and kindness Seagulls is a great reminder of our capacity to build things that are wonderful and important. And that fixing the world’s problems is too big a thing to tackle in one go so sometimes you just have to pick one issue, find a solution and good things will flow from there.
For further reading why not check out the Seagulls Paint blog to learn about their team and the wonderful work they’re doing.
28th March, 2020
Mary and the Witch Flower
Saturday’s Pick came from our Young Audiences Officer Sylvia!
"Trying to keep our children occupied at this difficult time with limited options and resources is an enormous challenge and like many, I am definitely utilising television and films to keep my two year old distracted.
However, to try and divert your little ones from the delights of Peppa and the like, I am going to be making regular suggestions of stunning animations, spellbinding classics and hidden gems available for you to watch from home, to both help entertain your children and fuel their imaginations but also find features the whole family can hopefully enjoy. Additionally, I’ll be suggesting some simple, fun and easy activity ideas to help enhance your film watching experience.
I am a huge believer that no one is too young for Anime and consequently, my two year old searches for soot sprites whenever we walk into a new room. This feature from Studio Ponoc is exceptionally imaginative, spellbindingly beautiful and will have children and adults alike enthralled. An ideal choice to convert your Harry Potter fans to something a little bit different and will not disappoint dedicated Studio Ghibli fans. My son sat still for 40 minutes without a word, so definitely a thumbs up from us.
Before the film, we also explored our garden and picked some flowers and leaves to press. This is a great opportunity to explore nature and also get some well needed vitamin D with a little bit of structure. Without a garden? This would be a great activity to combine with your daily exercise excursion out of the house to your local park, wood or even nearby hedge! Once you’ve picked your flowers, place them between two pieces of paper and then place in a big heavy book and leave for 1-2 weeks. The bonus of this activity is that in a week’s time, you have a ready made activity and can use the flowers to create a nifty collage picture!"
27th March, 2020
The Perfect Candidate
After her debut feature Wadja broke new ground as the first-ever film shot entirely in Saudi Aradia – and the first made by a Saudi woman – director Haifaa Al Mansour returns with a tale of one woman's quest to challenge not only the system but also herself.
A nice interview with Mansour was published with The Guardian yesterday. Read it here.
And a huge thanks to Modern Films for passing 10% of proceeds on to indie cinemas across the UK. Simply select us from the list when purchasing to send your support our way.
26th March, 2020
Winner of the Cannes Jury Prize, Bacurau is an audacious, original and spectacularly violent blend of neo-Western, revenge thriller and political allegory – guaranteed to leave you punch-drunk and reeling.
We're delighted to accompany our recommendation with a special filmed introduction from Prof Stephanie Dennison (University of Leeds). In her spoiler free introduction, Stephanie explores some timely metaphorical readings of the film, as well as providing a fascinating overview of the Brazilian film industry over the past decade. Watch the introduction on our YouTube channel.
25th March, 2020
Based on director Robin Campillo’s own experiences of activism during the 1980s with AIDS activist groups, this vibrant and deeply emotional drama won the Grand Prix at Cannes 2017. As the AIDS epidemic tears through their community, we follow the members of ACT UP Paris fighting for survival while they battle against governmental apathy, pharmaceutical greed and public ignorance.
For further viewing, we're thrilled that despite current events, the LGBTQ Festival BFI Flare is still taking place online via the BFI Player – with many of the feature films available to rent and a great selection of short films available for free. Head to the BFI Flare website.
24th March, 2020
After the Storm
Following Koreeda Hirokazu's popular Like Father, Like Son and Our Little Sister, and released two years before his Palme d’Or winner Shoplifters, After the Storm is perhaps one the director’s lesser-seen films of recent years but also one of his best – featuring an ensemble of wonderfully tender and nuanced characters, that are now the hallmark of this outstanding Japanese director.
And for a delicious taste of the director’s magnificent body of work and where this film fits in – you can watch this video essay by kogonada, made for Sight & Sound Magazine. Available via YouTube.
23rd March, 2020
With brilliant performances from Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche, Claire Denis’ daring, visually arresting English-language debut is a total triumph. See it on MUBI until midnight tonight.
For an added extra, check out this visual essay from Little White Lies and Luís Azevedo on the Sensual World of Claire Denis. Available via YouTube.