‘A Long-Awaited Reckoning’: Hollywood after Weinstein

On 5th October, New York Times journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey published a story detailing decades of sexual harrassment allegations against Hollywood mega-producer Harvey Weinstein. This predatory behaviour had been part of the rumour mill for years, but previous attempts to publish anything substantial had fallen foul of Weinstein’s far-reaching influence.

This article went off in Hollywood like a bomb. Within days, Weinstein had been sacked, and more women were coming forward. On 10th October, the New Yorker published a piece by journalist Ronan Farrow accusing Weinstein of many more counts of sexual harassment and assault. High-profile actresses like Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow joined the chorus.

The New Yorker

And it didn’t stop there. Emboldened, women – and men – across the entertainment industry spoke about their own experiences of being sexually harassed, assaulted and intimated at work. Their stories implicated Kevin Spacey,  Steven Segal, producer Brett Ratner, comedian Louis CK, and many more. They lifted a lid on a toxic culture where powerful men feel entitled to do whatever they want, without fearing consequences.

Continue reading ‘A Long-Awaited Reckoning’: Hollywood after Weinstein

‘Summer in the Forest’ Companion Booklet

Imagine sitting down for a meal with someone different to you.

 Something stopped you coming here before. The expectation of awkward silence, perhaps. The suspicion that your worst fears about the other person might be confirmed. Your discomfort with the unknown.  

 But as you begin to look at each other, to eat together, something shifts. You talk about everyday things, and begin to enjoy each other’s company. A joke catches you off-guard, and you start to laugh. You forget yourself.

Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 11.58.25

Download the free companion booklet

Life-affirming new documentary Summer in the Forest is in cinemas and online June 23. This poetic film follows the life of the L’Arche community in Trosly, France, where people with learning disabilities and those who support them have found what it truly means to be human.

This companion booklet introduces the stars of the film, and the transforming wisdom of Jean Vanier, who founded the L’Arche movement.

More at summerintheforest.com

Summer by the sea: A journey into L’Arche Bognor (part 2)

Sophie faceAs chronicled in part 1 of this post, I recently spent time with the L’Arche community in Bognor Regis, as part of creating a special resource for new documentary Summer in the Forest.

Hugh Campkin is the community leader at Bognor, and I spoke to him about the joys and challenges of this unique role.

Hugh Campkin (left) with a core member at L'Arche Bognor
Hugh Campkin (left) with a core member at L’Arche Bognor

Continue reading Summer by the sea: A journey into L’Arche Bognor (part 2)

Summer by the sea: A journey into L’Arche Bognor (part 1)

Sophie faceWe couldn’t be more pleased and proud to be supporting the release of Summer in the Forest, a beautiful and life-affirming documentary which will be released in cinemas and on V-O-D 23rd June.

The film (directed by Randall Wright) follows Philippe, Michel, Andre and Patrick, who were locked away and forgotten in violent asylums until the 1960s, when the young philosopher Jean Vanier took a stand and secured their release. Together they created L’Arche Trosly-Breuil, a community at the edge of a beautiful forest near Paris. A quiet revolution was born.

L’Arche (which now has 151 Communities in 37 countries) has a vision for a world where people with learning disabilities and their carers can discover a fuller life together. As part of the process of creating a companion booklet to go alongside Summer in the Forest, I paid a visit to the L’Arche Community closest to where Damaris Media is based: L’Arche Bognor Regis, on the South coast a short distance from the sea.

Continue reading Summer by the sea: A journey into L’Arche Bognor (part 1)

A closer look at… Inside Llewyn Davis

Inside_Llewyn

The Scoop

Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is a loser. Though a talented musician, he just can’t seem to catch a break, drifting through the 1960s New York folk scene and missing every opportunity by inches. He sleeps on a different sofa every night, relying on favours and luck to get by. But Llewyn seems to deflect luck almost intentionally.

Now winter is closing in, he’s got no money in his pocket, and a fling with Jean (Carey Mulligan) – wife of his friend Jim (Justin Timberlake) – may have resulted in a pregnancy. The singer’s shambling odyssey is punctuated by sporadic encounters with a ginger cat, which seems to know something he doesn’t.

Continue reading A closer look at… Inside Llewyn Davis

Going Native

Boundless_Natives_3f_landscape_low_res

Three countries. Three teenagers. One average, life-altering day.

Natives is a new play currently on at the Southwark Playhouse in London. We’re used to working with film companies, but we were intrigued when Boundless Theatre, the company behind Natives, asked us if we’d consider creating resources for school groups based on the play.

I loved Glenn Waldron’s script, which takes an empathic and generous stance towards its teen protagonists. It sensitively explores what it means to be a ‘digital native’ – the quest for popularity, the warped intimacy,  the intrusions of violence, the potential for real connection. There was plenty to bite into when it came to putting together this worksheet for GCSE and A-Level drama groups.

Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 15.23.58

A few of us from the Damaris Media team were lucky enough to see Natives in performance earlier this week. The production – which stars Ella Purnell, Fionn Whitehead and Manish Gandhi – has already been getting rave reviews from the likes of The Guardian, The Metro and Theatre Full Stop, and it definitely lives up to all of this hype.

The action plaScreen Shot 2017-04-04 at 15.24.41ys out in a small, intimate performance space, on a mostly bare stage which is illuminated by digital projections. It’s up to the three young leads to carry the story, which concerns three teenagers in different parts of the globe who must wrestle with the intersection between their digital lives and their ‘real’ ones. All three are excellent, but Purnell is the standout – recognisable from film roles in the likes of Never Let Me Go and Maleficent, she has a charismatic presence, funny, sharp and poignant by turns.

The 90-minute running time zips past, building to a powerful finale which posits a tentative hope for the future of the digital generation. That’s what’s so refreshing about Natives: it isn’t a critique of young people so much as the older generation who have bequeathed them a broken world.

‘Where are the grown-ups to do something, where are the grown-ups in this story?’

The play will hopefully have a long life both in performance (Boundless are planning to tour it) and in the classroom, where it could inspire teenagers to recognise the world-changing power they hold in their hands.

Find out more and book tickets

29 Mar – 22 Apr 2017  
By Glenn Waldron
Directed by Rob Drummer
At Southwark Playhouse

Sweet Dreams are made of these

SWEET_DREAMS_NEW QUAD_online copy

Sophie faceLast night we screened Fai bei sogni (or Sweet Dreams), the new film from director Marco Bellochio, at the beautiful Hospital Club in Covent Garden. We invited a group of people involved in various aspects of Italian life in the UK, including lecturers, scientists, and representatives from the Italian embassy and the Italian Chamber of Commerce.

Sweet Dreams follows the story of Massimo (Nicolò Cabras), a sensitive and introverted young boy who loses his beloved mother (Barbara Ronchi) in a sudden tragedy. Drawing on his rich fantasy life to help him cope, Massimo grows up into a withdrawn man (Valerio Mastandrea) who is unable to make real emotional connections. 

Continue reading Sweet Dreams are made of these

A closer look at… Hector and the Search for Happiness

Note: Guides from our archive are in a slightly different format and have been edited here to make them more user-friendly. This guide was written by Rachel Helen Smith.

hector

Once upon a time there was a young man called Hector (Simon Pegg). He lived a neat and tidy life with his girlfriend Clare (Rosamund Pike), who tied his ties, made his lunch and kept his sock drawer in order. Hector worked as a psychiatrist, listening patiently to his patients’ tales of trauma, whilst doodling in his notebook and dreaming of another life.

One day, Hector snaps. He cannot live as a fraud any longer, offering meaningless advice to his patients when he himself has never really experienced life. He sets off alone on a cross-continental adventure in the hope of discovering the route to true happiness. Those he meets along the way offer snippets of wisdom that he jots down in his notebook, but it is only once he has faced up to the emotions of his own past and his fears of the future that Hector can truly embrace happiness for his own life in the present moment.

Continue reading A closer look at… Hector and the Search for Happiness

A closer look at… Joy

© 20th Century Fox, 2016.
© 20th Century Fox, 2016.

Joy is rated 12 for infrequent strong language

Warning: Contains plot spoilers

The Scoop –  Though not as riotously entertaining as David O. Russel’s best work, Joy nevertheless provides a great showcase for Jennifer Lawrence as a truly inspirational woman.

Joy (Jennifer Lawrence) was a creative, vivacious, high-achieving child. But somewhere along the line, life stole her spark. Her parents’ divorce, a failed marriage to Tony (Edgar Ramirez), caring for two children, trying to hold down a job, and managing the chaos that her mother (Virginia Madsen), father (Robert De Niro) and half-sister (Elisabeth Rohm) throw her way, have all caused Joy to sideline her own dreams.

Her grandmother Mimi (Diane Ladd) is determined to see Joy rise and take her place as matriarch and provider for the family. And when Joy hits on an ingenious design for a self-wringing mop, it could be the key to unleashing her buried potential.

Continue reading A closer look at… Joy

The Hunger Games and Generation K

R76HYaQq4XP2LLPwOP63HDiOIIIKBl

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.

Continue reading The Hunger Games and Generation K