Review: SUSPIRIA (2018) [Leeds International Film Festival]

Viewed at Hyde Park Picture House as part of #LIFF2018.

It would be remiss of me to not mention that Suspiria is gory. While the original poured deep red colours into its set design and cinematography, the gushing blood red in this incantation of Suspiria are reserved only for the acts of body horror that occur. The violent body transformations are shocking and nauseating, and dreamlike fast cuts of disturbing imagery have a trance-like, subliminal power. Certain scenes will last for a long time in the memory, that’s for sure.

Welcome to Luca Guadagnino’s reimagining of Suspiria, a 30-year ambition finally realised and hot off the heels of his evocative  2017 sun-drenched tale, Call Me By Your Name. A switch to horror and a ‘remake’ of a Dario Argento classic befuddled many, but with a stellar cast, an updated but equally unforgiving plot and flashes of gore, Suspiria tantalises and mystifies in equal measure once again.

Set in Berlin in 1977 at the prestigious Markos Company dance school, Tilda Swinton is Madame Blanc, the austere but brilliant principal who is immediately drawn to new American student, Dakota Johnson’s Susie Bannion. As Guadagnino has been keen to point, Swinton also plays Lutz Ebersdorf as Dr. Josef Klemperer, a kindly psychiatrist that is more or less the emotional centre of the film.

Chloë Grace Moretz’s cameo as Patricia looms large over the opening acts, a young student targeted by the teachers within their secret coven, but determined to escape their grasp. Johnson, previously seen in Guadagnino’s A Bigger Splash (2015) alongside Swinton, is mesmeric as Susie, unknowable and seeming naive to the real trade of the Markos Company. Johnson and Swinton’s scenes together, even those as they stare at one another within a mirrored rehearsal room or appear to be talking without speaking across a crowded restaurant, are electrifying.

As points of view shift, the well-worn narrative of ‘an American in a strange country’ is left behind as Susie soon becomes a dancing conduit for the coven’s sadistic spells. Contorting, tribal dancing are never too far away from seeming like demonic possession and the camera, and Madame Blanc’s gaze, lingers on Susie’s unexpectedly libidinous movements. We are left to wonder if this is just her dancing style or has her time at the Markos Company transformed her already?

A history of the coven’s acts are hidden deep in the bowels (wrong choice of words there) of the school, horrific antiquities and weapons of choice such as the swift metal hooks that swipe as Thom Yorke’s haunting soundtrack swells. Berlin in 1977, the backdrop of the film seen on TVs or echoed through a radio, is a turbulent time that saw the hijacking of a plane and kidnappings by the Red Army Faction. The real world events act as a counterpoint to supernatural violence and its struggles for supremacy. Female autonomy, expressed through cruelty and occultism subterfuge, is attainable, if only as a result of atrocity and suppression. Taking place in a decade that rode the wave of radical feminism and when Germany continued to grapple with its position as a post-war nation, the coven’s secrets mirror the setting’s overwhelming struggle for normalcy. The coven’s power is an affirmation of the period’s feminist movement operating on the fringes of mainstream society.

The abuse of power is an overwhelming force throughout Suspiria, from the long-lasting generational guilt and Vergangenheitsbewältigung, to the coven’s secret manipulation and disposal of unsuspecting students. The school’s faculty are like a rubber band, stretching and contorting between the need for secrecy and culpability. As Susie, Patricia, Sam and Dr Klemperer become further entangled in the dance school/coven’s acts, the more they become manipulated, enlightened and repulsed by the coven’s violent tyranny.

A warped, unsettling and nihilistic film that slips from grasp just a handle on it seems within reach, Suspiria is likely to frustrate as many as it is devilishly delights. Immaculately directed and designed, Guadagnino shows once again why he is a contemporary master at period detail and sensuality on screen.








The Bradford International Film Summit! 4 March – 6 March 2015

GIRL ON FILM  is happy to hear that the first ever Bradford Film Summit will be taking place in March 2015.  It is a wonderful opportunity for industry professionals, filmmakers and local film fans to interact and attend some wonderful (and mainly FREE) events in the area! 

Here is just some of the information gathered on the Bradford City of Film website:

“From 4-6 March 2015, Bradford will host a three day international film summit.

The summit will stage a series of seminars, events and screenings to discuss film and TV production and education, set against the backdrop of this film-loving city.

Following the prestigious award of the United Nations Education Social and Cultural Organisation’s City of Film status in 2009, Bradford has used the transformational power of film to help drive social and economic change.”



“Welcoming leading film industry professionals, academics, policy makers and members of the UNESCO Creative Cities, the summit will discuss innovative ways to expand the role of film in society for cultural and economic benefit.”

Here’s just some of the programme:

The Business of Film, 5th March 10.00 – 13.00: The Midland Hotel 

Women Making Movies, 5th March 12.00 – 13.30: The Studio, Alhambra.

The Power of Film in Education, 6th March 09.00 – 13.00: Michelle Sutton Lecture Theatre Bradford College.

Focus on Children’s Film and Television, 6th March 14.00 – 16.00: The Studio, Alhambra.

Film Hub North Roadshow, Friday 6th March 2015 from 11:00- 16:00: National Media Museum.

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY – Guest Lecture and Lunch – ANNE MORRISON, Friday 6th March 2015 12.00 – 14.30: City Hall

Keep an eye on the Bradford City of Film website for further updates about the Summit and for details on how to get involved.

Book now for all events to avoid disappointment!



Review: Holmfirth Film Festival 2014

Two weeks after the end of this year’s Holmfirth Film Festival, I found myself cycling through the serene valleys of the Pyreenes, just near the border to France and Andorra. Between staggered breathing and shaded-tree hoping, I thought back to just days before as I sat in a darkened Picturedrome, watching a cycling movie called Breaking Away (1979). Never did I expect these two disparate experiences to intertwine, but just as a jersey-clad, bare-legged mob of cyclists zoomed on ahead of me, I was reminded of the dynamic and exciting attractions I enjoyed in a small, rain-sodden village in West Yorkshire.


Having finally arrived to Holmfirth (not the easiest of tasks for a Bradfordian resident who must rely on public transport), I made my way to the Holmfirth Picturedrome rightly assuming it was the place to start my cinematic journey across the Holme Valley. Reassured that I had not indeed missed the start of the next attraction, I settled down in a seat to enjoy a double bill of the classic French animation The Triplets of Belleville (2003) and the aforementioned Breaking Away (1979). The programme promised free entry to those who braved the beating rain to arrive on their bicycles and I was surprised to see that many actually did. The film itself is a feel-good, coming-of-age ride which tells the story of four high-school graduates leading working-class lives in a growing college town. One character in particular played by Dennis Christopher is obsessed with cycling and worships the Italian cycling team- so much so that he learns Italian by listening to operas and shaves his legs in his parent’s bathroom, much to the chagrin of his blue-collar father. What eventually follows is a bike race between the rich college-attending elite and this inexperienced, restless band of young friends who call themselves ‘The Cutters’ after the former stone-cutting workforce who dominated the region of Bloomington, Indiana. With fantastic sweeping shots of the area; the blissful open roads and the final race itself, Breaking Away is a simple story with a good heart which could turn any cycling un-enthusiast into a gear-changing fanatic by its end. A career-starting performance by Dennis Quaid as a troublesome, chain-smoking lamenting teen was also a joy to watch, especially considering the Hollywood heartthrob persona he went on to embody.


A wonderful time was also to be had that very night in the Picturedrome for ‘A Night at the Movies…’ by the Holme Valley Orchestra. Many gathered to hear James Morgan conduct well-known and much-loved film scores and songs with dazzling film clips to distract you from staring too intently at the talented musicians who were seated at quite close proximity to an eager audience. Cinema screen by day, auditorium by night, the first weekend alone demonstrated just how versatile the Picturedrome can be, as well as highlighting the efforts of a dedicated team of volunteers and workers who helped to make the festival possible.

After securing a drink at the fabulous Gonzo bar and catching a few local musicians making good advantage of the festival guests in town in need of a quick refreshment (try anything by the Summer Wine brewery, good local tipple!), I travelled to the Southgate Theatre in Honley, a nearby village. Initially perturbed by the distance between locations (thankfully, on this particularly day, I was not dashing about on foot), the festival proved to be a wonderful opportunity to discover the local neighbourhoods not usually explored by those speeding through the valley to visit the famous village of Holmfirth. The Southgate Theatre is a delightful venue, home to many an amateur production and local meeting and quite clearly the heart of the Honley community. After being helpfully directed to the exits in case of a fire by a friendly lady, I enjoyed the Oscar-winning documentary Twenty Feet from Stardom (2013). An addition to the programme which further highlighted the superb range of films offered during this week of cinema, this poignant account of the backup singers of some of the best singers and bands of the last fifty years was a joyous romp. Revealing everything from iconic musical clips to amazing on-stage performances as well as some shocking and heart-rending stories, the film gives a voice to those always just beyond the glare of the limelight.

Fast-forward a fortnight, and I have unwisely stopped cycling halfway up a hill in the Spanish mid-morning heat. A man pedals by in a Tour de France yellow t-shirt, and I quietly blame the Holmfirth Film Festival for whipping me up into Le Tour Yorkshire fever. I think next time I’ll just stock-up on popcorn instead of razors and bike pumps…

All photos taken by Evangeline Spachis.

Five Reasons To Watch The Bletchley Circle

ITV is leading the way with female-driven dramas at the moment. If like many, you are mourning the loss of the excellent Scott & Bailey for another year, here are some reasons why you should be watching the 1950s detective drama, The Bletchley Circle. There’s a lot more to these girls than meets the eye…



Four women reunite after completing vital work in the code-breaking huts of Bletchley Park during World War Two to solve murders and crimes. Using their impeccable skills for deduction and attention to detail, they are able to see what the police have overlooked. In doing so, they begin to shed the quiet, polite lives they have begun to lead after the war.


Just the cast list for this show should be enough to tempt you into watching. Starring the excellent Anna Maxwell Martin, the regal Rachael Stirling, the curiously dowdy Julie Graham and relative newcomer Sophie Rundle, here is a great league of female talent taking the helm. The first episode sees Susan (Anna Maxwell Martin) assemble the team, encouraging them to remember the expertise they have worked hard to forget in the intervening years in order to solve a spate of kidnapping and murders of women in London. It’s clear from the outset that you’re in safe hands for this hour (well, 42 minutes) of drama. Series Two is joined by Hattie Morahan (Sense & Sensibility) and Faye Marsay (The White Queen).



It’s only been in recent years that the stories of those who worked at Bletchley Park have been heard. Signing the Official Secrets Act was a solemn business and taken extremely seriously. Men and women who were recruited have only just been able to speak openly about their experiences and the vital work they conducted during wartime. As an unfolding history, we are beginning to hear about the challenges they faced both during and after the war as they were forced to keep their contributions to the war effort quiet from family and friends. Susan, Millie, Jean and Lucy lead double lives in The Bletchley Circle, hiding their unique light which made them so useful in the war under an officially sealed and closely guarded bushel.


Simply put, there are four women and it isn’t Sex and The City. Here are four characters that are drawn together by their outstanding abilities, their shared compassion to help and an exclusive bond which goes beyond the realms of womanhood. Adventurous and flighty Millie (Rachael Stirling) wears the trousers and flaunts her daring nature for all to see. Susan is analytical, empathetic and with a husband and two small children at home dares to strive for more. Jean is matronly, their former supervisor at Bletchley and the voice of reason in this foursome. And finally, young Sophie is gifted with a photographic memory and a naivety which begins to disappear as the women delve deeper into the underbelly of London. Much like Scott & Bailey it is refreshing to spend time with fictional characters who go beyond the perceived capabilities of their gender; making choices that would have been deemed reckless before the war and to an extent, after.  As Series Two begins, it is clear that the bonds these women have formed hang in the balance…


Unfortunately much like many excellent British dramas, The Bletchley Circle is painfully short and clocking up only seven episodes over two series means you won’t have to hibernate to catch-up on this boxset before the latest series finishes. An excellent reception in the US (where it aired on PBS) and Netflix viewings helped somewhat in securing a second series long after the first run aired in 2012. If you fancy an interesting set-up, a move away from the usual tortured detective and his sidekick format and some classic period intrigue then this is the show for you. Visitor numbers have gone up exponentially at the Bletchley Park museum in Buckinghamshire and with the life story of the genius, Alan Turing coming to screens with Benedict Cumberbatch as the tragic innovator, the heroics of those who served the cause in silence for so long are finally receiving attention long deserved.

Here’s a clip from the very first episode to wet your appetite:

The National Media Museum: The heart of a cultural community

As regular visitors to this site may already know, Girl On Film’s resident writer is a proud and sometime exasperated Bradfordian currently living in York .

News of the recent planned cuts to the Science Museum Group could have irreplaceable consequences for the two National museums in each respective city: Bradford’s National Media Museum and York’s National Railway Museum. Loathed to lose a vital vessel of cultural significance in the North, the national arts community has reacted strongly to these proposed cuts which could most likely result in the closure of the National Media Museum with a petition gaining nearly 25,000 signatures and respected culture site, Den of Geek rallying for support and awareness of the cause.


In particular, the National Media Museum or The National Museum of Photography, Film and Television as it was called until 2006, was the building which harboured and cultivated the cinematic dreams of this young writer from a very early age. For a long while, there was little to boast about for a Bradford citizen, brief Premiership glory dissipated and scarring media coverage of race riots purged the city of much enthusiasm to raise its head above the blossoming hedgerow of its neighbour, Leeds. As mentioned in an article however, which traces the on-going plight of the Bradford Odeon, Bradford remained quietly proud of its associations with the visual arts. From the notorious Cottingley Fairies which illuminated the mysticism of photography to the industrial landscapes which were the cinematic settings of the British New Wave, the city upon discovery, charts a history which reels alongside the development of world media and the preservation of the arts.

Indeed, as well as being an interactive museum with fun for all the family, the museum plays an important role in archiving 3.5 million items deemed to have historical, cultural and social value, ranging from the first photographic negative to the first television footage. All of which are accessible to the public for posterity. Quantifiable as this collection may be, the cultural significance in providing a platform for this vestibule of moving history to be viewed, studied and preserved is immeasurable.


Easily one of the museum’s most popular highlights is the IMAX cinema. The UK’s first IMAX theatre, the museum has continually brought state of the art film technology to the North, granting audiences world-class opportunities to witness cinema’s most immersive of film experiences with record audience numbers. The Pictureville and Cubby Broccolli cinemas also screen art house and contemporary cinema, with Pictureville being the only cinema house in Europe with Cinerama programming. All three cinemas host Bradford’s increasingly prestigious international films festivals which attract filmmakers and film fans annually.

And the list goes on. Whilst the future of the National Media Museum and its sister Science Museum Group counterparts hang in the balance, it’s our continued footfall and support which has the power to convince those pulling the purse strings that these museums are worth saving. The immediate outrage from all three communities potentially affected is a heartening reminder of the importance of creativity, its achievements throughout the twentieth century and its vivacity in times of economic downturn.

To help save the National Media Museum and to find out more about its equally endangered and world-class counterparts, sign the petition here:

If you have Twitter please show your support by tweeting your message with the hashtag ‘#SaveNMM

And finally, please visit the museum and donate if you can. The National Media Museum celebrates its 30th Anniversary this year: Thirty Years of the National Media Museum


The Bradford Odeon: Restoring a history, restoring the city.


As a Bradfordian, nearly nothing can cause more frustration than the stalled restoration of the city centre. Facing the new City Park however, is a building which has caused more consternation than most, alerting along the way the nation’s press and a whole host of celebrity supporters in recent years…  

On the 2nd July 2000, the Bradford Odeon cinema closed its doors to the public. Above the door it read in bold letters, “THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES”. Memories which, over the last thirteen years have taken on an added poignancy as the residual overgrowth and disrepair shroud the building.

To many, the New Victoria (as it was originally named) is one of the last reminders of a city once bustling; a glittering star of glamour in a Northern mill town prospering under the grey cloud of industry. Designed by Bradford architect William Illingworth in 1929, it is one of the last surviving art deco super cinemas in the country and heralded the new age of the silver screen to West Yorkshire. The ballroom and restaurant (still in surprisingly good condition), toasted the city. And as the 1950s and 1960s beckoned, stars such as Buddy Holly, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles graced its stage under the new name, the Gaumont.

Bradford has examples of successful restorations in its recent past, one of which being Sir Titus Salt’s mill in Saltaire. It seems almost outrageous to think how in the 1970s, Saltaire’s biggest tourism draw (not to mention, a UNESCO World Heritage Site) faced the same potentially dark future as the Bradford Odeon does today. Furthermore, with Bradford being named the first UNESCO City of Film, can Bradford Council really justify the destruction of a beautiful building which helped to establish the city as a hub of film heritage? The National Media Museum, arguably the nucleus of the City of Film campaign, mournfully overlooks the Bradford Odeon from its huge glass façade, and one can only imagine the restored view if those who love and respect the building have their way.

Odeon (1)

The Bradford Odeon Rescue Group (BORG) has worked tirelessly for ten years to put a stop to the attempts from Bradford Council to bulldoze the timestamps of Bradfordian history. Successes such as the City Park next to Centenary Square have been successful  simply because they have utilised a space already available and created areas that work for the people, not just the investors. The countless plans for office spaces and hotel complexes which have graced the pages of the local rag, the Telegraph and Argus over the years, lack inspiration and practicality for the state of Bradford today. Bradford is a city once bitten by the empty promises of a redevelopment company and an inept council. The Bradford Odeon is an opportunity to put right what we already have, to accept our past and re-imagine the future. There are numerous fantastic ideas for the building, all of which seem entirely plausible, especially after inspections have announced the Bradford Odeon to be structurally sound, as well the original Italian Renaissance designs remaining remarkably intact.

Its surviving sister, The Alhambra Theatre, continues to glitter. Perhaps one day the Bradford Odeon will again too.


Paris on Film: Girl On Film goes on tour!

Earlier this year, Girl On Film (Evangeline Spachis) embarked on a research project to Paris with university. Fascinated by the rich cultural history of the French capital and the reverence which the French people place on ‘film as art’, Girl On Film decided to explore and capture the places which live on through the medium of cinema and ensure that Paris is an eternal heartbeat of cultural and cinematic importance.

The start of the tour was at the beginning of feature-length silent cinema itself. The Phantom of the Opera (1925) was an American production, set in the Opéra de Paris and based on the universally famous novel by Gaston Leroux. However there was one problem, the entire production was to be based in Hollywood. Persuaded by the increasing popularity of film and the epic nature of the story, Universal Studios built an exact replica of the Paris Opera House.

Inside the Paris Opera House today:

DSCN0796The Opera House is truly stunning. Steeped in history, high culture and baroque architecture, it is no wonder that it as become a place of legend and esteem throughout the art world.DSCN0802The 1925 silent film features a shot of the Hollywood version of the staircase amidst an extravagant ball scene.

ph2Of course, the Phantom ‘ghost’ famously occupies the No. 5 box in the Opera House.


The box today has a haunting tribute to the immortal character:


Moulin Rouge is seemingly less glamorous by day than it’s silver screen namesake by director Baz Lurhmann would have you believe.


Moulin Rouge! (2001) is a romantic-drama-musical, and like The Phantom of the Opera (1925), captured the imagination of cinema-goers worldwide. A jukebox musical, it features modern pop songs by Elton John and Madonna amongst others which is both in direct contrast and in-sync with the early-20th century sensibilities of Paris. The ‘Fin de siècle’ vitality of this spirited French society plays straight into the hands of Lurhmann, a famously decadent and vivacious filmmaker. 


Mere metres along the road and we come to a café which features in a French-language film that continues to be one of the more accessible and crowd-pleasing depictions of Parisian life- Amélie (2001).


After the death of her mother and her father’s subsequent withdrawal from society, Amélie leaves home and becomes a waitress at Café de Deux Moulins in Montmartre, staffed and frequented by a collection of eccentrics. Spurning romantic relationships after a few disappointing efforts, she finds contentment in simple pleasures and letting her imagination roam free.


The Café de Deux Moulins (15 Rue Lepic, Montmartre) was a delightful place to visit as a film fan, and the owners clearly relish the popularity the establishment has procured due to the enduring affection for Amelié (2001).


A screenshot from the film within the restaurant itself.


The food wasn’t half bad either!

The fast-paced action film The Bourne Identity (2002) was US-financed and written by an American, but for the most part features the protagonist, Jason Bourne eluding the the C.I.A. and Interpol as he search for answers about his life after suffering from amnesia around the back-streets of Paris.


A significant and iconic action sequence sees Bourne (played by Matt Damon) return to his former Parisian apartment at which he is eventually ambushed by an assassin.

DSCN0874 Given as “104 rue du Jardin”, the apartment is 104 Avenue Kléber, at rue de Longchamp, just north of Trocadero.

2004 saw the sequel to Before Sunrise (1995) (a tale of two back-packers who meet in Vienna and spend an evening together exploring the city and fall in love), Before Sunset (2004) being made.

before_sunsetSet this time in Paris and ten years after the events of the first film, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) reunite and experience a summer’s day in the city of lovers. Though the geography of the film and the reality of the locations are somewhat fiddled with, the film does begin with a chance meeting at the Shakespeare and Company bookshop, at which Jesse is giving a talk about his new book and Celine is looking through the bookshop window.

DSCN0782 Shakespeare and Company, 37 rue de la Bucherie, on the Left Bank of the Seine opposite Notre Dame. The bookshop crops up again in another Parisian romance, Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris (2011).DSCN0781

The Three Colours trilogy are a hugely important collection of French/Polish films which kick-started the popularity of French New Wave cinema once again in the nineties. Perhaps the most famous of the three, Trois Couleurs: Bleu (1993) is set in Paris and centres on Julie’s (Juliette Binoche) struggle to recover from a horrific accident which resulted in the death of her husband and a beloved young daughter. After suffering such a terrible trauma, she begins to devote the rest of her life trying to completely erase her past from her memory.


In one moving scene, Julie sits in a cafe and the camera shoots a tight close-up of a sugar cube absorbing coffee from her cup, representing her complete disinterest in life and her disregard for anything but the sugar or her internal grief.

Girl On Film attempted to recreate this scene in a Parisian cafe with mixed results.


All photos belong to Evangeline Spachis [2013]