We’re delighted to announce the 2019 programme for Widescreen Weekend, the National Science and Media Museum’s annual festival celebrating the past, present and future of cinema technology.
Historical epics, a special tribute to a Hollywood icon, a former president of Merchant Ivory Productions and the 25th anniversary of a multi award-winning American odyssey, along with a host of special guests, all feature in this year’s Widescreen Weekend at the National Science and Media Museum (10–13 October 2019).
The festival, celebrating spectacular cinema technologies past, present and future, kicks off with the Steven Spielberg-directed visual feast Ready Player One (2018) from a 70mm print, and closes with a 60th anniversary screening of Ben-Hur (dir. William Wyler, 1959) featuring Charlton Heston in the starring role and the now legendary chariot race.
These bookend an unrivalled selection of classics and cult favourites shown in deeply immersive cinema formats, such as The Sound of Music (1965, from a new 70mm print) and West Side Story (1961) which, along with The Haunting (1963), provide a mini-retrospective of the director Robert Wise. Again there’s something for everyone, from a 25th anniversary screening of Pulp Fiction (dir. Quentin Tarantino, 1994) to a 20th birthday outing for animation The Iron Giant (dir. Brad Bird, 1999) and the Cold War-era thriller Ice Station Zebra (dir. John Sturges, 1968).
Guest curator Professor Sir Christopher Frayling once again presents a themed selection—this year’s is Ancient Rome—which, in addition to Ben-Hur, includes Barabbas (dir. Richard Fleischer, 1961) and Gladiator (dir. Ridley Scott, 2000). Sir Christopher will also be giving an in-depth talk on Doris Day, who died earlier this year, as an introduction to her 1959 film Pillow Talk, which features her regular on-screen partner Rock Hudson.
Sir Christopher said:
“When Doris Day died at the age of 97 in May of this year, it was front page news all over the world: her wholesome image and on-screen personification of innocence had made her ‘the last of the stars of the golden age’ even though she hadn't appeared in a film for over 50 years. Our screening of Pillow Talk will be our tribute to a much-misunderstood and much-loved superstar.”
This event also forms part of Women in Widescreen, a focus on the roles of women behind and in front of the camera. As part of these screenings, journalist Samira Ahmed introduces another Doris Day film—this time starring opposite James Cagney in the musical drama Love Me or Leave Me (dir. Charles Vidor, 1955). Carmen Jones (dir. Otto Preminger, 1954) and A League of Their Own (dir. Penny Marshall, 1992) feature notable female characters, and Hollywood VFX editor Carin-Anne Strohmaier introduces a 25th anniversary screening of Forrest Gump, on which she worked as assistant editor with regular colleague, director Robert Zemeckis. Gump went on to win six Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor, and, a quarter of a century later it continues to be as highly regarded as it is quoted.
Donald Rosenfeld, former president of Merchant Ivory Productions, is a special guest at the festival. Donald was at the helm of the company from 1986 to 1999—considered its ‘golden decade’, with films such as Howards End and The Remains of the Day. He’ll be in conversation with BCB Radio’s Mary Dowson ahead of a screening of Effie Gray (dir. Richard Laxton, 2014), written by and starring Emma Thompson, and which Rosenfeld produced.
Director Clio Barnard attends the festival for a special screening of her 2013 film The Selfish Giant, a tragic and compelling tale shot on location in Bradford and starring young actors from the area. Clio will be interviewed by David Wilson, director of Bradford UNESCO City of Film.
Elsewhere the festival includes sessions dedicated to visual technology—how digital modelling is being used to explore and recreate archaeological sites that are little known, hard to access, or that don’t exist anymore (Archaeological Immersion); and a panel discussion on the sometimes acclaimed, sometimes derided, process of colourising black and white films (Shades of Grey: The History and Ethics of Colourisation in Cinema).
There will also be a 360-degree cinema dome, and the popular Celluloid Saturday returns (12 October 2019)—a whole day dedicated to screening an eclectic selection of movies from analogue film.
Finally, Widescreen Weekend wouldn’t be Widescreen Weekend without Cinerama screenings. The museum is one of only three venues in the world which holds public screenings of the three-projector system which heralded the boom in immersive movie technology from the 1950s, and is the only one located outside the USA. This year’s Cinerama highlights are the travelogue Cinerama’s South Seas Adventure (1958) and the legendary Cineramacana event.
Festival director Kathryn Penny said:
“Widescreen Weekend is all about celebrating innovation and all styles of genres in cinema—as long as the films are big and bold. This year offers a huge range of anniversary screenings of classic films—from some of the most popular musicals ever made to the incredible spectacle of historical epics, as well as modern titles that make use of the very latest technologies. It will be a delight to hear from all the special guests and speakers as we get unique personal and professional insights into the film industry and the movies we’re showing.”
Full festival passes are on sale until 30 August 2019, including special rates for under-25s. Individual tickets go on sale at a special screening of The Great Victorian Moving Picture Show at the museum on 5 September 2019.
Details of the full programme, festival pass types and prices can be found on the Widescreen Weekend webpage.
Press contact: Phil Oates, firstname.lastname@example.org / 01274 203 317
Notes for editors
The National Science and Media Museum in Bradford, West Yorkshire, opened in 1983, and has since become one of the most visited UK museums outside London. The museum explores the science and culture of image and sound technologies, creating special exhibitions, interactive galleries and activities for families and adults, including the recently opened Wonderlab. It is home to three cinemas, including Europe’s first IMAX cinema screen and the world’s only public Cinerama screen outside the USA. Entry to the museum is free.
Widescreen Weekend partners and supporters
Bradford City of Film: Bradford is the world’s first UNESCO City of Film. This permanent title bestows international recognition on Bradford as a world centre for film because of the city’s rich film heritage, its inspirational movie locations and its many celebrations of the moving image through the city’s annual film festivals and film-related events. For more information, visit the Bradford City of Film website.