Passion and Paradox: ‘Messiah’ at the cinema

We’re thrilled to be working with event cinema experts CinemaLive in bringing Handel’s Messiah from Bristol Old Vic to cinemas across the UK and Ireland. This dramatised production, in cinemas for one night only (Wednesday 28th March 2018), retells the Easter story in a striking new way. 

Book tickets at a cinema near you

About Messiah

Messiah is the most popular choral work ever written in English. The music was composed by George Frederic Handel in 1741, over a period of just 24 days. The words were put together from the King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer by Handel’s collaborator Charles Jennens, who wanted to create ‘a meditation of our Lord as Messiah in Christian thought and belief’.

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Why not start a film club?

If you’ve been following this blog for a while you’ll know that we’re about more than just features and reviews. There’s a reason why ‘closer look’ discussion guides form a big part of our coverage. At Damaris Media, we believe that films should be experienced in community – and that community groups of all kinds can be enriched by what films have to offer.

So why not start a film club? Going to the cinema or watching a DVD together isn’t just a great way to be entertained and to unwind; it’s a way into the best kind of conversations.

Everybody has something that chews them up and, for me, that thing was always loneliness. The cinema has the power to make you not feel lonely, even when you are. – Tom Hanks

best picture collage

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Oscars 2016: Five quick reactions

So it’s the morning after the night before (it’s still morning in L.A, OK?). All over Hollywood, celebrities are waking up with sore heads. Leo has fallen asleep clutching his statuette. Jenny Beavan, the evening’s biggest badass, is probably still partying.

What to make of it all, now that the dust has settled?


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A child protection expert watches ‘Spotlight’

Here at Damaris Media we share an office with the folks from CharityOffice, including safeguarding specialist for charities Elaine Davidson. I wanted to hear her thoughts on the Oscar-nominated drama Spotlight, which tells the true story of the 2002 Boston sexual abuse scandal.

Hi Elaine, thanks for taking the time to chat with me. Could you just share a little bit about who you are and what you do?

Hi Sophie! I have been an HR & Training consultant most of my life, but back when my children were pre-schoolers and I was juggling my career, I decided to open up my own Day Nursery. (As I didn’t have enough to do – joking – I needed good day care!). I began to get more involved, as the owner, in child protection.  We were having children placed from Children’s Services who were in temporary accommodation and fragile situations. That was a steep learning curve.

I was called in to give evidence at child case conferences where I saw firsthand what abuse and neglect could look like. It caught my heart and I’ve gone on from there to dedicate my professional life to child protection.

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And the Oscar for Best Picture goes to…

best picture collage
The 2016 Best Picture nominees

Guess what? I’ve seen all of the 2016 Best Picture nominees! Even though I kind of hate the Oscars! Turns out I’m a completist.

Since these are the films that are going to be dominating the cultural conversation over the next few weeks, at least, it seems worthwhile to sum up this blog’s coverage.

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Podiums, politics and parties: On loving and hating awards season

Awards season is upon us once again! In my continuing quest to reform my cynical ways, here are five reasons to love the whole thing. After this first bit.

5 Reasons to Hate Awards Season

  • It’s a stark reminder of the depressing lack of diversity in Hollywood.
Image credit: The Telegraph
Image credit: The Telegraph

Oscar night! Or, as I like to call it, ‘old white men give other old white men prizes, no surprises’ night. If you’re someone who cares even remotely about diversity and inclusion behind and in front of the camera, this time of year can mean a depressing parade of everything that’s wrong with the industry. From Seth McFarlane’s horrifyingly sexist hosting stint to the ‘whitest ever Oscars’ in 2015 and the just-as-white Oscars in 2016, from the treatment of actresses on the red carpet to Ricky Gervais’s bullying idea of what constitutes humour, awards season can feel like Hollywood’s most privileged players closing ranks with a sneer.

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Awkward Christmas moments: On that family film dilemma

Image credit:
Image credit:

You know the dilemma. You’re sat in a stuffy room strewn with bloated relatives and discarded scraps of wrapping paper. The food has been consumed, the presents have been opened; the charades, if you’re into that kind of organised jollity, have been played. And it’s only four o’clock. To get you through until bedtime, you’re going to have to watch a film.

But how to choose? The likelihood is, you’ve got such a range of ages and/or tastes represented that you’re never going to please everyone. You’re faced with potential boredom and confusion at best, and with deep embarrassment at worst. What if you’re forced to sit through a sex scene with grandma in the room? What if your hard-of-hearing uncle insists on having you explain every plot development in Inception? What if your annoying little brother makes you listen to his running commentary about the back-story of each of the Avengers?

Watching films at Christmas is a total minefield. Here at Damaris headquarters (which we share with staff from Charity Office), we may not have the answers, but we can certainly offer a little solidarity.

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The Hunger Games and Generation K


Ever heard of ‘Generation K’? No, I hadn’t either, until the upcoming release of the final Hunger Games film resulted in a spate of articles about the teenagers who have grown up with heroine Katniss Everdeen.

The term has been coined by economist and academic Noreena Hertz, who did a study of more than a thousand British and American teenage girls to find out about their hopes and fears for the future. The results were fairly alarming.

I discovered that unlike those currently aged between 20 and 30, the “Yes we can” generation, who grew up believing the world was their oyster, for Generation K the world is less oyster, more Hobbesian nightmare. This is the generation who’ve had Al Qaeda piped into their living rooms and smartphones and seen their parents and other loved ones lose their jobs. A generation for whom there are disturbing echoes of the dystopian landscape Katniss encounters in The Hunger Games’ District 12. Unequal, violent, hard.

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Why I care about diverse films

What does it mean to have a diverse media, and why does it matter? These questions are explored by Anna Holmes in a recent New York Times piece, which looks at the issue more generally but touches on the film and TV industries. The term ‘diversity’, says Holmes, has to many people become at worst an irritant and at best a box to thoughtlessly tick.

She suggests that we tend to trumpet the exceptions to the rule whilst conveniently downplaying the enormous – and very provable – amount of bias that still remains.

Small victories are often overenthusiastically celebrated as evidence of larger change. In September, for example, when Viola Davis became the first African-American woman to win the Best Actress in a Drama Series Emmy, the moment was cheered in the press as a triumph of racial equity in Hollywood. But just a month before, Stacy L. Smith, a professor of communication at U.S.C. who, with other researchers, had just released a damning report that studied gender bias in 700 films made between 2007 and 2014, lamented ‘‘the dismal record of diversity, not just for one group, but for females, people of color and the L.G.B.T. community.’’

Actress Viola Davies
Actress Viola Davies – a historic Emmy win

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Rogue laughter and shared happiness at the cinema


King Lear? Not, on the whole, a barrel of laughs.
King Lear? Not, on the whole, a barrel of laughs.

I recently came across this piece by Don Aucoin in the Boston Globe about the perils of ‘rogue laughter’ for theatre actors. You’ve probably experienced the phenomenon – at a particularly intense, tragic or dramatic moment of a play, an inappropriate reaction from someone in the audience breaks the mood.

It was opening night of “A Number,’’ Caryl Churchill’s dark, chilling drama about cloning gone awry, and Nael Nacer was giving it his all in a performance of nonstop intensity at Watertown’s New Repertory Theatre.

Suddenly a young woman near the back of the theater shrieked with laughter. As the play went on, she punctuated the performance earlier this month with loud bursts of merriment, often joined by more than a dozen other chortling spectators — apparently convinced, against all evidence, that they were watching a comedy.

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