Ray Winstone Revisits His Old Boxing Club with Director Alasdair McLellan to Launch Season Two
Ray Winstone reminisces under a wall of heroes and former sparring partners in the first installment of Shorts on Sundays, Season Two. Directed by leading fashion photographer Alasdair McLellan, today’s evocative film stars the rogue veteran of Scum, Nil by Mouth and Sexy Beast, who tells stories about old haunt the Repton Boxing Club to the establishment’s current star, Ryan Pickard, who also wrote the screenplay. “My dad boxed, my grandpa boxed and everyone where I lived in the East End was involved in boxing in some way,” says Winstone, who was awarded the club’s coveted John H. Stracey award after winning all 13 fights in his first senior year at 17, retiring soon after as his acting career kicked off. “You would meet kids from all walks of life,” says the actor of his influential early days. “Repton boys have gone on to become government officials in Africa, and photographers and writers. It gave you the confidence to mix and learn how to behave socially—it was my education.”
Do you ever daydream about a parallel universe where you have achieved accolades in boxing instead of acting?
Ray Winstone: “No, I did everything I wanted to do in boxing. I was a lucky boy, as I had another choice and found something I could do. I was never good enough or dedicated enough to be a professional. We had three world champions while I was around but the most important thing for me is the boys who come through that club and take something away with them, in the form of a discipline and social behavior.
Do you think that is the legacy of the Repton?
RW: Yes. I wasn’t deprived but there were plenty of kids who were. There were a lot of people who through boxing aren’t in prison today. They found something else to do and stayed off the streets.
Are you quite surprised it’s survived this long?
RW: I think it’ll last forever; it would be a travesty if something like the Repton collapses. People would have nowhere to go. I can’t imagine the area without it. The boss Mark Newman is sorting out the club’s own clothes line that will put some money in and hopefully keep it going.
Kahlil Joseph's Film Meditates on the Origins of an All-Black Rodeo in Oklahoma
A dreamlike narrative binds cowboy and an angelic specter clad in white in director Kahlil Joseph's exploration of a little-known African-American rodeo subculture. Joseph, who is part of the Los Angeles-based What Matters Most film collective, visited the annual August rodeo in the sparsely populated Oklahoma town of Grayson (previously Wildcat), an event that attracts African-American bull riders, barrel racers and cowgirls from all over the Midwest and southern USA. He set out to celebrate the origins of the rodeo by paying respect to the spirit of Aunt Janet, a member of the family who founded the event, passed away last year and is embodied as the young girl in the film. “Black people are light years more advanced than the ideas and images that circulate would have you believe. The spaces we control and exist are my ground zero for filming, at least so far, and there are opportunities for me to tap into the energy,” says Joseph who has also made films for musicians including Shabazz Palaces and Seu Jorge. “So an all-black town with an all-black rodeo in the American heartland was a kind of vortex or portal through which I could actually show this.” Wildcat is scored by experimental musician Flying Lotus, who has previously collaborated with Joseph on a short to accompany his 2012 album Until the Quiet Comes, which is showing during Sundance London this weekend.
The Acclaimed Director Gives Us an Insider's Glimpse of His Favorite Video Store
Michel Gondry takes us on a tour of his local Parisian haunt in A Cinephile’s Labyrinth, a new work directed by Larry Clark alumna, actress and filmmaker Tiffany Limos. The Academy Award-winning director reminisces on time spent wandering the aisles of La Butte Video Club, the small VHS and DVD store to which he has made pilgrimages over the years. “I watched all the early Wim Wenders films from La Butte when I was preparing for The Science of Sleep,” says Gondry of this old school answer to Netflix. In his forthcoming L’Écume des Jours (Mood Indigo), the French auteur adapts Boris Vian’s 1947 cult novel of the same name—a satirical story of young love set in jazz-infused Paris. “I tried to avoid ‘Rive Gauche’ clichés,” he says of the upcoming feature, “but I used the music of Duke Ellington.” Similarly, La Butte is a relic of Paris’ past and one that continues to inspire—not just during the making of 2008’s homage to video, Be Kind Rewind, but in providing the director with regular interaction with other film lovers. “Out of all the directors I work with, Michel is the most fun,” muses Limos. “He makes me laugh out loud constantly.” Here Gondry reveals just how important his encounters in the video aisle have been to his acclaimed oeuvre.
Was the video store a big part of your early experience with film?
Michel Gondry: We had a video player at home since the early 80s so the video process was part of my adolescence. I used to shoot little sketches with my brothers and our friends. Sadly, I don’t think there are many places like La Butte left where I live in Brooklyn.
Do you ever think about whether your film will end up on the shelves of somewhere like La Butte when you are making it?
MG: Yes. In fact it’s one of the reasons why we as filmmakers have to define the genre that we want our film to belong to. We know that people will put them on specific shelves. It doesn’t make things easy when your genre is not well defined.
Have these films also influenced your collaborations with other artists, such as the musicians for whom you’ve made music videos?
MG: Yes, sure. I remember the first time I collaborated with Björk—we discussed all our favorite movies. We discovered that we had lots of favorite films in common. Like The Night of the Hunter (1955) for instance, which became an inspiration for the video for [her 1993 single] “Human Behaviour.”
Do you still watch films as much as you used to before you began making them?
MG: I don’t see them the same way. Unfortunately, I can’t take myself out of the equation. Most of the time I’m watching a movie, I’m thinking, “I could never achieve this!”
Your latest adaptation takes on a work of satire. Is it important to have a sense of humor in filmmaking today?
MG: Humor helps to swallow the harshness of life.