The Creative Worlds of Powell + Pressburger

Event Schedule

12:00-12:05 Welcome and introduction by Claire Smith and Nathalie Morris

12:05-12:50 New Land, New Boundaries, New Worlds: Exiles and Outsiders in the Films of Powell and Pressburger by Caitlin McDonald

12:50-13:45 Vaughan Williams, Gray and Easdale – Powell and Pressburger’s Music Men by Neil Brand

13:45-14:25 Lunch break

14:25-15:25 Inside Out: Invention and Emotion in Film Design with Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer hosted by Jane Barnwell

15:25-16:00 Amanda Coe in Conversation hosted by Justin Johnson

16:00-16:05 Comfort break

16:05-17:00 Filmmakers without Borders: The Call of Ecstasy by Marina Warner

17:00 Thank you by Claire Smith and Nathalie Morris

Jane Barnwell is Reader in Moving Image at the University of Westminster. Graduating from Leeds University and The Northern Film School she began her career at the BBC, before working freelance in production. Jane has authored articles in a range of forms and genres including popular magazines, periodicals and websites, (The Guardian, The Scenographer, International Journal of Production & Costume Design, Journal of British Cinema and Television, The Conversation, Widescreen and The Production Designers Collective). Her books include Production Design for Screen; Visual Storytelling in Film and TV, Production Design: Architects of the screen, The Fundamentals of Film Making and Production Design & the Cinematic Home. She is currently working on an edited collection The Designer’s Story, an exciting collaboration with authors drawn from practice, research and education.

Neil Brand has been a silent film accompanist for over 35 years throughout the UK and at film festivals around the world. He now has a very fruitful relationship with the BBC Symphony Orchestra with his acclaimed orchestral scores for Hitchcock’s silent Blackmail, Asquith’s Underground, Chaplin’s Easy Street and Fairbanks’s Robin Hood, published by Faber Music. He followed these successes with two through-scored radio adaptations, The Wind in the Willows, A Christmas Carol, and most recently Echoes of the North with the Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band, The Hound of the Baskervilles with Mark Gatiss as Sherlock as well as the BFI release of South – Shackleton’s Epic of the Antarctic. He is well-known as a TV presenter with five hugely successful ‘Sound of …’ series on BBC4, is a regular presenter on Radio 4’s Film Programme, Add to Playlist and Soul Music, a Fellow of Aberystwyth University and a Member and Visiting Professor of the Royal Academy of Music, was awarded the BASCA Gold Badge in 2016 and is considered one of the finest improvising piano accompanists in the world.

Amanda Coe is a screenwriter and novelist. Her screen credits include Shameless, Apple Tree Yard, The Trial of Christine Keeler and Life in Squares. She created the award-winning E4 teen series As If, and won a BAFTA for her BBC4 adaptation of John Braine’s Room at the Top. Her 3-part adaptation of Black Narcissus, starring Gemma Arterton, Alessandro Nivola and Aisling Franciosi, directed by Charlotte Bruus Christiansen, broadcast on the BBC and Hulu in 2020.

Sarah Greenwood is a six-time Academy Award nominated Production Designer, earning her most recent acknowledgement for her work on Joe Wright’s Darkest Hour and Bill Condon’s Beauty and the Beast both nominated in the same year! Sarah received her previous Oscar nominations for her work with Joe Wright on his acclaimed films Pride & Prejudice and Atonement (for which she won a BAFTA) and Anna Karenina, for which she also won the Art Directors Guild Award, The European Film Award, The Evening Standard Award and the Hollywood Production Designer of the year Award (for the second time) and was nominated for a BAFTA (her seventh). Her other Oscar nomination was for her work with Guy Ritchie on Sherlock Holmes. Sarah has also collaborated many times with Joe Wright on the films Cyrano, Hanna and The Soloist, and the television miniseries Nature Boy, Bodily Harm and The Last King (Charles II). Sarah has just finished work on Barbie with Greta Gerwig and Back to Black with Sam Taylor Johnson about Amy Winehouse.

She has worked closely for many years with Katie Spencer, her long-time collaborator and Set Decorator.

She lives in London and is an Honorary Fellow of the University Arts London.

Justin Johnson works for the BFI as Lead Programmer for BFI Southbank and also selects animation and films for younger audiences at the BFI London Film Festival. He is a regular contributor to radio and TV on matters concerning children’s films, animation and films in general. He has served on juries at many European Film Festivals including Berlin, Copenhagen and Zlin and has served as both a selector and a juror for the British Animation Awards. As a member of the BAFTA Film Committee and Deputy Chair of the BAFTA Children’s Committee, Justin assists in the organisation of the awards and often chairs professional juries for different award categories. During his time at the BFI, he has curated seasons in partnership with Walt Disney Studios, the BBC, Shanghai Animations Studios, Pixar and the Swedish Film Institute, as well as hosting many on-stage events and interviews.

Caitlin McDonald completed her PhD thesis on Emeric Pressburger’s screenplays and novels at the University of Dundee, where she previously taught film studies and now works with postgraduate researchers at the University’s Doctoral Academy. She is the author of the introduction to a republication of Pressburger’s novel The Glass Pearls (Faber Finds, 2015), and her chapter on exiles has recently been published in the BFI’s The Cinema of Powell and Pressburger. Her research interests include national cinema and identity, the relationship between screenwriting and authorship of novels, exile cinema and the unmade.

Nathalie Morris is a film historian and curator. She has held senior curatorial positions at the British Film Institute and the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, and, with Claire Smith, is the co-editor of The Cinema of Powell and Pressburger (Bloomsbury, 2023).

Claire Smith is Senior Curator of Special Collections at the BFI National Archive, where she curates filmmakers’ paper archives and the photographic and graphic arts collections. She is co-editor of The Cinema of Powell and Pressburger with Nathalie Morris, and the exhibition curator for The Red Shoes: Beyond the Mirror.

Katie Spencer is a six-time Academy Award nominee, recognised for her work on a wide range of films, including Pride & Prejudice, Atonement, Sherlock Holmes, Anna Karenina, Beauty and the Beast and Darkest Hour. She has also been nominated for seven BAFTA Awards, winning for Atonement.

Spencer was born in Yorkshire, England and studied at Central School of Speech and Drama in London. After several years working in theatres including the Royal Court, Almeida and Donmar Warehouse, she moved into television.

It was at the BBC that Spencer first met and worked with production designer Sarah Greenwood, a unique and close collaboration. They have worked on many successful films together, ranging from Pride & Prejudice through to their latest, Barbie.

Spencer also serves on the Executive Committee for Production Design at the Academy of Motion Pictures (AMPAS). In 2024, AMPAS will be hosting an exhibition in Los Angeles, showcasing the work and unique collaboration between Spencer and Greenwood.

Marina Warner writes fiction, criticism and cultural history. Her award-winning books explore myths, symbols and fairy tales, including From the Beast to the Blonde (Vintage, 1994) and Stranger Magic: Charmed States & the Arabian Nights (Chatto & Windus, 2011). Recent publications include the ‘unreliable memoir’, Inventory of a Life Mislaid (Harper Collins, 2021), Helen Chadwick: The Oval Court (Afterall Books, 2022) and Temporale (Sylph Editions, 2023). She is currently writing a book about the concept of Sanctuary. She is Professor of English and Creative Writing at Birkbeck College, a Distinguished Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and a Fellow of the British Academy.

The Small Back Room
Fri 1 Dec 18:10 (+ intro); Sun 10 Dec 18:30; Sat 16 Dec 20:45; Fri 22 Dec 18:20; Wed 27 Dec 20:30; Sat 30 Dec 15:00
Oh… Rosalinda!!
Sat 2 Dec 11:45; Wed 13 Dec 20:45
Lazybones + Her Last Affaire
Sat 2 Dec 15:20; Wed 20 Dec 17:50
The Love Test + Something Always Happens
Sun 3 Dec 15:30; Tue 19 Dec 20:20
Library Talk: The Glass Pearls
Mon 4 Dec 18:30 BFI Reuben Library
Wanted for Murder + intro by Simon McCallum, BFI curator
Mon 4 Dec 20:40
Projecting the Archive: The End of the River + intro by film scholar Dr Kulraj Phullar
Tue 5 Dec 18:20
The Phantom Light
Wed 6 Dec 20:30; Sun 17 Dec 12:30
Peeping Tom
Thu 7 Dec 20:45 (+ intro); Sat 9 Dec 15:00 (+ Doesn’t Exist magazine launch and panel discussion hosted by Victor Fraga); Fri 15 Dec 20:50; Mon 18 Dec 20:45; Thu 21 Dec 18:00; Sat 23 Dec 18:00; Fri 29 Dec 18:15
The Red Shoes
From Fri 8 Dec
The Red Shoes in the Spotlight
Fri 8 Dec 18:00
Bluebeard’s Castle (Herzog Blaubarts Burg)
Fri 8 Dec 20:40; Fri 15 Dec 18:10 (+ intro by writer Lillian Crawford); Sat 23 Dec 13:30
Crown v. Stevens + Behind the Mask (aka The Man Behind the Mask)
Sat 9 Dec 12:40; Sat 23 Dec 15:00
The Tales of Hoffmann
Sat 9 Dec 17:30; Tue 12 Dec 20:20 (+ intro by Andrew Moor, Manchester Metropolitan University); Sat 16 Dec 14:45; Sat 30 Dec 17:30
Honeymoon (Luna de miel)
Sun 10 Dec 13:25; Thu 28 Dec 20:40
Queering Powell + Pressburger
Tue 12 Dec 18:00
Experimenta: Michelle Williams Gamaker and Powell + Pressburger + Michelle Williams Gamaker in conversation with Dr Kulraj Phullar
Wed 13 Dec 18:05
They’re a Weird Mob
Sat 16 Dec 17:45; Fri 29 Dec 20:40
Espionage: Never Turn Your Back on a Friend / A Free Agent + intro
Sun 17 Dec 15:15
Age of Consent
Fri 22 Dec 20:45; Wed 27 Dec 18:15
A Matter of Life and Death
Sat 23 Dec 15:00 BFI IMAX
Black Narcissus
Sat 30 Dec 14:30 BFI IMAX

With thanks to

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Programme notes and credits compiled by Sight and Sound and the BFI Documentation Unit
Notes may be edited or abridged
Questions/comments? Contact the Programme Notes team by email