In Conversation with Clio Barnard

Last Wednesday evening Woody and I found ourselves sitting comfortably in a dimly lit lecture theatre. Why? Was it because the seats offered nice upholstry? Perhaps. Or were we full of half price pizza from Belgrave Music Hall and in need of a sit down? Partly. But the main reason was that we were eagerly awaiting to hear Clio Barnard – writer and directer of The Arbor (2010) and The Selfish Giant (2013) – speak about her career in filmmaking.

IMG_3317Creative Networks, a provider of events at Leeds College of Art, had arranged the talk in collaboration with the National Media Museum. They regularly programme talks from talented and fascinating people from creative industries and past speakers have included film critic and novelist Danny Leigh and Turner Price winner Elizabeth Price.

Each event includes displayed artwork from CoA students and a free drink with time to socialize before the talk. I’ve been to two evenings at Creative Networks now and I’ve felt thankful that these types of events are available to attend so locally. The events only require a £5 deposit which is refunded after attending the event – that’s a really good deal!

I have to admit, I haven’t seen much of Clio Banard’s work (amending that now) yet I found her talk illuminating and in some ways I feel privileged to now be able to experience Clio’s films after her talk, equipped with the knowledge of her thought process.

BoOrRgWIQAABS-g.jpg_largeI particularly enjoyed watching clips from The Arbour which Clio showed to help express her feelings and thinking towards stories and filmmaking. We found out that her particular fascination and statement lies in that she firmly believes documentaries often do not present the truth. She has presented extensive work that shows us how memory and imagination are in the same area of our brains and we often mix the two. She depicts this in an interesting filmmaking style: Clio uses verbatim recordings of her interviews with people sharing real life anecdotes and then films actors lip syncing to the audio.

This innovative form of filmmaking provides a brilliant platform to expose to audiences the blurred lines between memory, truth and imagination. Clio mentioned how some audiences have expressed frustration in not having the face to match the voice of the speaker, like they are being cheated in some sense, of their senses in fact. I see it as an excellent way in which to tell someone’s real life story and allowing them some anonymity – something rarely afforded these days – whilst communicating via the constructed form of film that this information is likely to be a product of memory and imagination.

After the event myself, Woody and Stephen of Keswick Film Club (Hi Steve!) strolled to the train station still buzzing with thoughts and conversation around Clio’s words and ideas. We spoke of Sarah Polley’s excellent Stories We Tell and of filmmakers using local film locales.

Nachos Pizza and film talk – our favorite!




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