The Jarman Award: Derek Jarman: Crossing Paths: Part One: email notes from Anna Thew
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The Jarman Award: Derek Jarman: Crossing Paths: Part One: email notes from Anna Thew

Fragments for Eye Drift, image courtesy of Anna Thew

Fragments for Eye Drift, image courtesy of Anna Thew

My main link with Derek after Chelsea and Butlers Wharf, was through Steve Farrer at the London Filmmakers Co-op, Thomas Mutke, and the gay scene. Steve used to go to the Subway club, which Derek frequented, and then they had this wandering life on the Heath at night, which I’d hear a lot about, and was in awe of, but obviously had no part in. Thomas and Bruno (de Florence) were on the game at that time, and I was really an outsider to this.

We mostly bumped into Derek with Carla and Maria at the Presto (where I was greeted as ‘la principessa’), the Pollo, Maison Bertaux, the Swiss Tavern/Compton’s, and through the club scene.

I have these strong feelings that Derek was a kind of fairy godfather to very many younger filmmakers, particularly men, in that now forgotten area of acceptance of sexuality, of HIV status etc, being able to be out, and be public.

I was very deeply and ingenuously influenced by B2 Movie (3fps, 1982) with Jean Marc Prouveur’s eyelashes almost brushing the lens. An image I filmed in 1994 of Darryn Birch, at Jean Marc’s in Italy, and slowed even slower than that on the optical printer, is almost trying to hold onto that ethos, unashamedly, of those particular faces…  then I’m also a big fan of Anger, Fellini, Pasolini, and forays from landscape into theatricality, so I would say I was personally deeply influenced by part of Derek… (the Super 8s, the diarist, the polemics).

But with the RADA bit, and the Tilda type acting bit, and the designer mud in War Requiem, I’d part company, which is why I’d recommend the German language version of BLUE with voice by Fassbinder’s Eva Matthes (Manfred Salzgeber Edition), which I saw at Manfred’s memorial, at the Filmpalast, Berlin, 1994.

Later, my link with Derek was through the films, as a filmmaker, through the triangle with Manfred Salzgeber and Berlin. See Time to Act, Netherlands, Filme on AIDS, Norway etc., In the eighties Behind Closed Doors and Sailor Trailer were with Imagining October. And from 1993 my film Cling Film screened internationally both with Angelic Conversation and Blue.

One thing I always will be sad about is that, apart from Berlin meine Augen, and possibly the censored television version of Cling Film, I don’t recall Derek seeing any of my films, or ever really coming to see other people’s films, for that matter.  Man Ray, Fellini, Jean Genet, sure, otherwise really only through boy interest or queer solidarity would he have seen work by Adam Elliot or or Richard Heslop.

And I think people should consider how Derek was influenced by someone rough edged, like Padeluun,  by Cerith Wyn Evans and John Maybury with the early blue screen effects doing the music clips, by Richard Heslop’s energy, Christopher Hughes’s precision and care with some of the Last of England filming, say.

And how Derek was an impresario, a commensurate charmer, who gathered people and drew them to him, and absorbed their talent, and how he was always happiest with an entourage, collectively, ‘the gang’, he never seemed to think about his feature films alone, and he asked me how he should finish Caravaggio, “I can’t think how to end it,” and I said, “Go for a walk somewhere and shut everyone out, and clear your mind of so many conflicting views, and think how YOU want it to end”…   I don’t think he listened to me.

Yet a shot of the ragwort on the shingle with scudding clouds in The Garden, could only be filmed if you were alone, so his Super 8s had that something which spoke.

Anna Thew is an artist and filmmaker.

  1. tino says:

    we need a link to Christopher Hughes this intrepid film-maker artist of the small medium filmed on the last of england, and particularly the garden plus his own intrepid stuff… link t

  2. abigail says:

    Thanks Tino. Can’t seem to find an official site for Christopher Hughes, but you can see his filmography at Fandango. If anyone else has any links to Christopher Hughes, then do share them below.


  3. Richard Heslop says:

    i remember his lovely infectious laugh…pacing up and
    down in his tiny flat in charring cross road ducking his
    head back and  forth as he laughed and laughed telling
    scurrilous story after story…full of fun and life and
    energy and love…missed by many…..never did go round to
    pick up the painting he gave me….never mind !!…one of
    the black oillly ones after i gave him loads of glass skull
    x rays i found in a market….

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