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Issue 7 / Wednesday 22 September Cambridge Film Festival Daily F eature D review A dangerous liaison with Stephen Frears Halfway through his onstage interview at the Festival, director Stephen Frears grumbled: “I was horrified to learn that this event was called Looking Back.” It is relatively common for artists to avow frank disinterest in all aspects of their past work, but Frears seemed not so much modest as sincerely abashed about certain aspects of his longstanding career. As host Jan Gilbert cued a series of clips from Frear’s filmography - prologue and repartee from GUMSHOE (1971), then the railway-bridge reunion from MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE (1985), and so on to the present - the director returned spades full of droll. On GUMSHOE: “that’s just what we were like then; a bunch of children overexcited by American films!” On his work in the 1990s, something of a ‘dark’ period for him (though any survey of Hot Ticket Wednesday 22 September -- TBC Slots Now Confirmed -Don’t miss docu-drama THE MIRACLE OF LEIPZIG about the 1989 Monday demonstrations in East Germany. Now screening today at 8.30pm. Gaspar Noé’s challenge to the senses (and eyeballs) ENTER THE VOID will be screened at 1.00pm. Stephen Frears © TC living auteurs could turn up victims of more prolonged and egregious lapses in quality): “I thought I’d be rather good at making studio films. But I was a disaster.” On filmmaking in general: “If you make a film, it’s very frightening. [Pause] Nothing has changed.” Within a ten-minute interval, this frequent collaborator with Hanif Kureishi, Peter Morgan, Roddy Doyle, described himself as “hopeless,” “shameful,” and “completely ignorant” - more than once. Compulsive putdowns and vaguely curmudgeonly tendencies notwithstanding, Frears throughout the event presented a hugely respectable figure - refined in his tastes (particularly ‘in writing and in actors’), honest and pragmatic in matters of self-regard, and sincerely grateful for the creative moment and milieu into which he’d had the good sense to be born. As a burgeoning thesp and bored-to-tears Law student at Cambridge in the early sixties, Frears met, befriended and worked with a gaggle of talented, committed young entertainers, many of whose names are more famous than his is today (“you couldn’t move for people who were going to become celebrities”). Though reluctant to draw explicit morals from any life-stories, Frears suggested consistently that his experiences at university, and in his early jobs at the BBC and the Royal Court theatre, taught him an indispensable lesson about the value of the company that continued on page 2

CFF10 Daily #7

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