28th June 2016: About Film Screens Punishment Park by Peter Watkins followed by Realist Film Theory Discussion

Come along to the Brass Monkey on Drummond Street on Tuesday 28th June between 18:30 to 21:30 for the next in a series of About Film nights where we watch a film and then discuss it afterwards…

Punishment Park by Peter Watkins

About Film is a monthly film night, we show a film and then have a group discussion afterwards. Everyone is invited to participate and no prior knowledge is required. It is not necessary to ‘book’ a place as the event will be open to all, but committing to coming will give us a heads-up about numbers.

The Film: Punishment Park (1971)

Mockumentary, docudrama and docufiction are all terms you will find associated with filmmaker and media commentator Peter Watkins. He was park of the filmmaking vanguard that sought to question the relationship between fact and fiction and how these distinctions are played out in media images.
Watkins sought above all to find innovative ways to express his ideas. The marks of his influence can be seen whenever a fictitious character is placed into a so-called real world scenario. For example; the use of documentary style filming in TV Show The Office (2001 – 2003), or, by the placement of characters into aged footage in Forrest Gump (1994).
So why haven’t you heard of him? (Kudos to those who have.) There are a couple different reasons that may explain this. First, his films are self-consciously polemical and this can come off as a bit preachy. Even when you agree with a filmmakers’ position having it force fed to you can feel a bit crass.
Second, he takes a very dim view of America and mainstream media, check out his written work on what he calls the Media Crisis. He has therefore struggled to find support for his films or easy distribution from the same groups he takes aim at. Punishment Park provides a key example, an open attach on American domestic policy during the Vietnam War, it struggled to find an American distributer for years.

The Discussion: Realism

Debates around the terms Realism and Realist rage across film studies and we can find these terms employed to describe films as disparate as Batman Begins (2005) and Fish Tank (2009). So what value is there in a term that can be used so inconsistently? During this event we will attempt to build a working definition as we apply concepts of Realism to our chosen film.

The venue: Brass Monkey, Drummond Street

The Brass Monkey is a venue that loves cinema, with film posters adorning the walls and a cinema room in the back. There is no entrance fee and the bar is well supplied with liquor, hot drinks and snacks (including sandwiches). There is no wheelchair access, sorry. If anyone has any concerns about access or facilities don’t hesitate to get in touch and we can give some advice.
The cinema room has a small number of hardback chairs but is mostly filled with large sofas, ideal for lounging. We will provide some popcorn, and you can bring along your own snacks, but no hot food.

I hope to see you there.

Terence Sawyers