World Premiere Of New Restoration Of Anthony Asquith’s Shooting Stars (1928) With New Score By John Altman
“A spectacularly brilliant film, it was an immediate success and in one move established Asquith as one of the most interesting people working in British production at the time.” — Rachel Low, A History of the British Film
Each year a new restoration of a British silent feature film is premiered as the London Film Festival Archive Gala. These restorations have played a major role in repositioning British silent cinema in the UK and internationally. Past London Film Festival Archive gala presentations includes Underground (Director: Anthony Asquith, 1928) in 2009, The Great White Silence (Director: Herbert Ponting, 1924) in 2010, The First Born (Director: Miles Mander, 1928) in 2011; The Manxman (Director: Alfred Hitchcock, 1929) in 2012; The Epic of Everest (Director: Captain John Noel, 1924) in 2013 and in 2014, The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands (Director: Walter Summers, 1927).
The Archive Gala screening at the 59th British Film Institute’s London Film Festival in partnership with American Express®, on Thursday 16th October 2015 at the Odeon Leicester Square, will be the world premiere of a new restoration of Anthony Asquith’s Shooting Stars (1928). Asquith’s first film as co-director and scriptwriter, Shooting Stars is a fascinating drama set behind the scenes at a contemporary film studio. Newly restored by the BFI National Archive, Shooting Stars will be presented with a new live score by John Altman.
The BFI is the lead organization for film in the UK with the ambition to create a flourishing film environment in which innovation, opportunity and creativity can thrive by connecting audiences to the widest choice of British and World cinema, preserving and restoring the most significant film collection in the world for today and future generations, championing emerging and world class film makers in the UK – investing in creative, distinctive and entertaining work, promoting British film and talent to the world and growing the next generation of film makers and audiences.
The BFI is a Government arm’s-length body and distributor of Lottery funds for film and serves a public role which covers the cultural, creative and economic aspects of film in the UK. It delivers this role as the UK-wide organization for film, a charity core funded by Government, providing Lottery and Government funds for film across the UK and working with partners to advance the position of film in the UK.
Founded in 1933, the BFI is a registered charity governed by Royal Charter and the BFI Board of Governors is chaired by Greg Dyke.
The BFI National Archive was founded in 1935 and has grown to become the one of the largest and most important collections of film and television in the world with over 180,000 films and 770,000 television programs. For over 80 years the BFI has been an international leader in film preservation and guardian of Britain’s unparalleled film and TV heritage. The organization is an innovator in presenting films to audiences in new and dynamic ways, from cinemas to film festivals, outdoor events to online video-on-demand. At the heart of all its activities is the BFI’s central aim to ensure that everyone in the UK has access to the widest possible range of film and their own film heritage.
That heritage includes all time great British directors Alfred Hitchcock, David Lean and Powell and Pressburger; and the rich vein of documentary filmmaking, in which Britain led the world, including the lyrical work of Humphrey Jennings. The archive also boasts significant Special Collections of filmmakers’ papers, including the papers of David Lean, Ken Loach and David Puttnam, as well as extensive stills, posters and production and costume designs along with original scripts, press books and related ephemera.
Expert teams undertake the time-consuming and complex task of restoring films at the BFI John Paul Getty Jr Conservation Centre in Hertfordshire. The BFI’s most precious film materials are kept in optimum conditions in the world-leading Master Film Store in Warwickshire.
Robin Baker, Head Curator, BFI National Archive said, “We are delighted to be showcasing this remarkable film in a brilliant new restoration achieved after months of work from our dedicated teams at the BFI. Shooting Stars is a fascinating debut from one of Britain’s greatest film-makers and to see it with a newly commissioned score performed live in the Art Deco splendor of the Odeon Leicester Square promises to be a very special experience.”
Shooting Stars is a dazzling debut which boasts a boldly expressionist shooting style, dramatic lighting and great performances from its leads, audaciously taking the film industry itself as the theme. Despite the director credit going to veteran director A.V. Bramble, this is demonstrably the original work of rising talent Anthony Asquith, exhibiting all the attention-grabbing bravado of a young filmmaker with everything to prove. His original story offers sardonic insight into the shallowness of film stardom and Hollywood formulas by use of ironic counterpoint. He flaunts his dynamic cinematographic style and upgrades design and lighting by bringing in professionals.
A love triangle develops on set in a British movie studio filmed at Cricklewood in NW London, where a western and a slapstick comedy are being filmed back-to-back. Mae Feather (Annette Benson), a spoiled star jilts her husband, played by Brian Aherne for the comedian played by Donald Calthrop. In one of the best opening scenes of British silent cinema the handsome, Aherne appears as a cowboy, with his ‘gal’ in a calico frock in a classic ‘western’ rural romantic scene. The dove she cradles in her hands pecks at her viciously and the illusion is suddenly dispelled as the camera tracks back to reveal a studio’s wooden sets. She becomes the screeching prima donna while her co-star husband remains calm, slightly amused and dignified as the entire studio staff tries to catch the offending bird. He is, in other words the real thing – he is his star persona. She on the other hand is entirely unlike her nice-girl character and is unwilling to give up the romance of the movies for the real thing. The situation spins rapidly out of control. Continue reading