Bristol Arts Centre October – December 1968 Scans

Tonight we’re showing ‘Daisies‘ (Dir. Vera Chytilová, 1966, Czech Republic, 74 minutes)

This was in the programme from 1968 we showed you some scans of back in March.

Also – in case you missed them – we recently(ish) posted memories of the space back from then here too:

Here’s that programme scanned in full, including the contemporary copy about ‘Daisies’ . . .

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Bristol Arts Centre memories

In the late sixties till about mid seventies, this was the sole Arts Centre in Bristol, and had to cope with both film and small-scale live performances, possibly even ballet. This was the era when you reverently went to see the latest Truffaut, Bergman, Godard, Antonioni, Pasolini etc. All demanding, “serious” films, in lofty contrast to the pabulum and prolefeed available at the Odeon or the ABC etc.

The entrance looked like a normal terraced house on King’s Square, but had an illuminated sign using the same green graphics as on the Programme notes sheets. (Parking was then relatively easy in the square or the surrounding roads!) The place seemed to be run by a shortish, dark-haired chap, in early middle-age, well-dressed in three-piece suit, who meeted-and-greeted punters, and to whom you complained after a Cassavetes movie.

Getting from the entrance to the auditorium seemed an airport walk; as a child, I marvelled at the Tardis-like ability of a small Victorian house to contain such a long passage, not then realising the cinema is remote from the frontage. This auditorium looked then just as it is now. Oh, there was also an usherette, (yes, even for such a small audience!). She used one of those red-glowing-nipple torches, and was attractive young lady, but slightly cast-eyed. The seats were perfectly comfortable, but I recall there was sometimes a slightly unpleasant odour, maybe caused by damp? The place was certainly not air-conditioned then.

As children we were often brought there for weekend afternoon performances of ‘U’ certificate films, often “revivals”, or the odd theatrical piece. I remember a season of cartoons, which were individually introduced by a knowledgeable chap who told you about the director, animation techniques, voice characterization actors, etc whilst the younger tots fidgeted.

I also recall a season of Buster Keaton films; these had just been rescued, in the nick of time, from the horrors of Nitrate oblivion, (or worse, flambe), and copied onto modern safety stock. Enterprisingly, the Centre placed an upright piano on one side of the screen, and engaged an old geezer who had played in silent houses (this was around ’69) to accompany the films. He deservedly got his own round of applause at the end.

By contrast, and moving to the the evening presentations, aimed at intellectuals, my mother recalls one of those pour epater le bourgeois live events, where the guilt-ridden middle-class liberal audience are made to sit on the stage, where they are harangued with Marxist simples by the cast, who “occupy” the seats. My parents also walked out on Dyn Amo (1972) (look it up) a sort of homegrown would-be Warhol movie, mostly set in a strip club. I recall BAC offered a Club membership, permitting them to show WR Mysteries of the Organism uncut, including the infamous plaster-caster scene…

Curiously, I don’t remember BAC ever showing adverts, except, possibly, for forthcoming attactions. Maybe subsidies were more generous then!

A perenially popular art-film presentation was Monte Hellman’s Two Lane Blacktop (1971), an early existentialist road movie, with James Taylor, Warren Oates and the late Dennis Wilson. My younger brother wanted to see this film just for the cars, but it was an “X”, so no dice. I, however, saw it twice, and my adolescent sensibilities were jolted by that scene where shy Taylor waits outside a cheap motel room, whilst we hear his companion, Wilson, have sex with a casual pick-up. I saw the Mick Jagger/ Nicolas Roeg/Donald Cammel Performance at the BAC twice, (that one really freaked me out-I finally understood what cinema could be), and other films that just didn’t seem (then) to be getting to TV quick enough, like The Last Picture Show.

This was a different (pre-video) age, and even some ten–year old films had not yet made it the small screen; at least, that how it appeared to a then-teenager; thus, I saw A Hard Day’s Night, Cabaret, Some Like it Hot-overrated, not that funny, Ken Russell’s The Boyfriend (camp but enjoyable, like a warm-up for Moulin Rouge), New York, New York, Sunday, Bloody Sunday, even various Hammer Horrors etc. Some of the first Brit. New-Wave films were also shown, like Radio On, (1979) another existential road movie, very Wim Wenders-ish, with Kraftwerk on the track, and in deliberately-grainy black-and-white. (This film actually starts in London and makes its dystopian way along the A4 to a desolate, hardly-recognizable Bristol, encountering a young then-barely-known Sting along the way!)

Anyhow, I continued to go to the BAC until about ‘81. I think the last film I saw there was one of Truffaut’s late films, aptly titled The Last Metro (1980). A change of name to King’s Square Cinema(?) about this time did not seem to help the Centre’s fortunes; by now the Arnolfini, with its air-conditioned luxury, was the first port of call for most cineasts (especially in Summer) and this, in turn, was rivalled if not supplanted by the Watershed, with its multiple screens-from 1982 or so onward.

John Ounsted     19/6/14

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Stewart Lee

Stewart Lee interviewed by David Hopkinson after performing John Cage’s Indeterminacy at the Cube on Saturday 22 March 2014, with musical accompaniment by Steven Beresford and Tania Chen.

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Film at the Bristol Arts Centre – October to December 1968

My mate John’s parents were regular visitors to the Bristol Arts Centre – forerunner to the Cube – in the sixties. They kept a small collection of Bristol Arts Centre programmes from that time. There’s more to come, but here’s a favour of the sort of content that was being programmed back in the day. Film at Bristol Arts Centre Oct to Dec 1968 page 1 small Film at Bristol Arts Centre Oct to Dec 1968 page 2 small

 

Interesting to see the pricing strategy: 4 shillings for first two rows, 6 shillings for the remainder.

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The belle Cube bell

Ore and Ingot took their Travelling Foundry and cast a bell in the garden on NYE 2013. Thanks to the Cube Orchestra we now know the bell rings out at F#. The bell now lives permanently in the bar, for all to appreciate.

The Cube Bell is position in the bar; Jo and Barry share a toast. Picture by Paul Blakemore.

The Cube Bell is position in the bar; Jo and Barry share a toast. Picture by Paul Blakemore.

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Balcony Coming Down

As part of the general refurbishment of the building, Barry took this dramatic picture of the old fire escape balcony in the Cube garden being removed.

Old fire escape balcony in Cube Garden being removed by Ryan. Picture by Barry Parsons

Old fire escape balcony in Cube Garden being removed by Ryan. Picture by Barry Parsons

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Critical Burns Night with the Cube Orchestra

On Saturday 25th January, the Cube Orchestra contributed a live musical accompaniment to Robert Burn’s epic poem Tam O’ Shanter read by Ralf Togneri.

A reading of Tam, O'' Shanter with score by the Cube Orchestra. Picture by Richie Paradise.

A reading of Tam, O” Shanter with score by the Cube Orchestra. Picture by Richie Paradise.

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Cube Roots

(Article from VENUE MAGAZINE, 1999 – on our 1st birthday)

“You’ve heard of BYO restaurants. Well, how about a BYOF cinema, as in Bring Your Own Film? Sounds crazy, but the Cube have already done it, to marvellous effect. And now, against the odds, Bristol’s very own ‘microplex’ cinema is celebrating its first birthday.”

DODGY PROJECTOR AND KNACKERED SUPER 8 FOOTAGE
Journalist: Robin Askew

Imagine a cinema where you can take your drinks into the auditorium. Imagine a cinema where you can have a direct influence on the programming policy. Imagine a cinema that encourages you to bring along your own films and project them yourself. Now stop imagining, because the cinema in question is already here.

This weekend the Cube celebrates its first anniversary. Many thought it wouldn’t get that far, such has been the esoteric nature of some of its programming. But the Cube collective have proven the nay-sayers wrong, building a loyal audience for an innovative multi-media mix that has seen local DJs working alongside film-makers and digital artists in a series of unique collaborations. Their achievement is all the more remarkable when you consider that the whole place is run on a co-operative basis by core crew of six, with a further 25 committed volunteers. And although some of them have been putting in 60-hour weeks, no one’s been paid a penny.

“Our biggest achievement has been to survive,” reflects co-op member Julian Holman, who also runs the Bristol Filmmakers’ Festival. “we admit that when we opened we were full of expectation rather than experience, but we’ve learnt quickly – not just the cinema aspect, but the basic facts of running a small business. We’ve managed to build a fantastic atmosphere about the place. Everybody feeds off one another in terms of energy and enthusiasm. Obviously, we’d love to be paid for what we do, but we realised that the way to set the place up on a solid foundation was to do this without pay. So we’ve all got part-time jobs or we’ve surviving creatively.”

The Cube was set up by local music and film collective Club Rombus in the premises formerly occupied by the cosy, single-screen Arts Centre Cinema. At first they attempted to continue the Art Centre’s policy of second-run screenings of the most popular upmarket mainstream fare, programming avant gardw events around these screenings. But this traditional material was soon squeezed out by the Cube’s more adventurous plans. Only fashionable US indie hits, like ‘Go’ and ‘Another Day In Paradise’, are now being booked around other Cube activities. “The Arts Centre used to be very good at picking up on what was popular, but it meant that you couldn’t really see anything different from the Watershed or Arnolfini.” explains Julian. “We figured that since we’ve got this place we might as well make the most of it. Because of the people we know, we can do things that the other establishments can’t.”

The ‘totemic’ Cube event, he says, is the anarchic Film Jam. “That sums up what we do best, which is make the place very much a creative grassroots environment. We invite people to bring along their 16mm and 8mm footage, as well as slides. and, more importantly, their projectors. We have DJs on stage and there can be ten or more projectors in the auditorium all firing off to various screens around the room. It might sound like lunacy but it’s really quite wonderful to watch at times.”

Cube collaborations between film-makers digital artists and DJs have taken many forms one of the most productive of which is the live mixing of new soundtracks to classic movies. Next week, for example, John Stapleton launches his new Blowpop label at the Cube with the creation of a new audio track for ‘Death Race 2000’. “When we did that with “The Warriors”, it was quite phenomenal what we produced by having DJs who are normally used to getting a crowd buzzing on the dancefloor thinking about providing a proper soundtrack to a film,” says Julian.

Not everything has worked. Some of the more esoteric material has proven to have a distinctly selective appeal. “But we’re still very glad to have put that in,” he insists. “We’re also very proud of the “Eye To Eye” documentary series. It doesn’t pull in hundreds of people, but what it does is to provide absolutely excellent events.”
Future plans include an expansion of facilities for film-makers, including a VHS library of local productions and a script bank aimed at putting writers in touch with directors. The Cube also plans to apply for a theatre licence so performance can be introduced to the multi-media mix. Once there’s a bit of cash in the kitty, the knackered equipment is due for an upgrade. And the recent introduction of a patrons-only bar has already gone some way towards achieving the Cubester’s goal of creating a fusion of cinema and social space.

“One of the best things about this place is that we’re friendlier than most of the other cinemas around town,” says Julian. “People get a real welcome here. I like to think they get treated a lot better than punters who come and pay money, sit down and watch a film, and then bugger off again.”

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Fantasy Orchestra at Bristol Old Vic

The Fantasy Orchestra performed the music of Ennio Morricone to a fantastically receptive audience during the “Don’t Look Now” Cube Fundraiser in the Theatre Royal at the Bristol Old Vic on Friday 6th September.The acts were curated by Qu Junkctions.

Here’s some pictures taken by Cube volunteer Dave Taylor from his vantage point in the Garrick Box.

The Fantasy Orchestra performing "A Fist Full of Dollars" by Ennio Morricone on the Theatre Royal at the Bristol Old Vic. PIcture by Dave Taylor

The Fantasy Orchestra performing “A Fist Full of Dollars” by Ennio Morricone on the Theatre Royal at the Bristol Old Vic. PIcture by Dave Taylor

The Fantasy Orchestra performing "Manic"Depression by Jimi Hendrix on the Theatre Royal at the Bristol Old Vic. PIcture by Dave Taylor

The Fantasy Orchestra performing “Manic”Depression by Jimi Hendrix on the Theatre Royal at the Bristol Old Vic. PIcture by Dave Taylor

The evening was brilliantly compèred by veteran actor of stage and screen Dudley Sutton.

Dudley Sutton compèring 'Don't Look Now' at the Theatre Royal, Bristol Old Vic. Picture by Sarah Bentley.

Dudley Sutton compèring ‘Don’t Look Now’ at the Theatre Royal, Bristol Old Vic. Picture by Sarah Bentley.

Here’s the fantastic poster for the evening designed by Rich Fox.

Designed by Rich Fox

Designed by Rich Fox

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Heatsick

Heatsick - Cube Auditorium

 

Nice picture of the Heatsick in Cube Auditorium from his residency earlier this year.

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