SWiM Cinema – Independent Artumentary Films, Film Production & Global Art Blog
Actor/Writer Simon Callow, world renowned for his mastery of the ‘One-Person Play’ (or ‘Living Biographies’) teamed up in 2008 with Shakespearean scholar Jonathan Bate to create an all new stage show celebrating and exploring the life and work of William Shakespeare. After 3 years of writing, re-writing and touring, the play ‘Being Shakespeare’ opened to rave reviews in London’s West End. This film follows the plays creation from its first writing sessions, pitching to producers, rehearsals, early test performances, initial 2010 UK tour (from Plymouth to Edinburgh) all the way to its success in the West End. A film about the reality of creating a play in today’s theatre world. Interviews and commentary from Callow and Bate combined with loads of ‘in process’ footage provide an idea of what the plays subject William Shakespeare actually did – create theatre. Click HERE to buy Download or Rent.
For the first time the full story is told of one of literature’s most misunderstood and influential Gay writers - W. Somerset Maugham, author of Of Human Bondage, The Razor’s Edge, The Painted Veil, Rain & numerous other classic stories, plays and novels. Somerset Maugham broke all the rules of literature yet became the most successful writer of his age and the world’s first ‘millionaire author’. Today his books continue to be read by millions and Somerset Maugham is admired by countless best-selling authors. Includes interviews with Armistead Maupin, Alexander McCall Smith, Pico Iyer, Alan Furst, Selina Hastings, Ronald Harwood, Nicky Haslam, Camilla Chandon (Somerset Maugham’s Granddaughter), Nicolas Paravicini (Somerset Maugham’s Grandson) and many more. Duration: 84 mins. *Download version includes subtitles in français, 日本, العربية, español & english for the hearing impaired and numerous extras. **To view ‘Revealing Mr. Maugham’ trailers with various subtitles please click here. Click HERE to buy the DVD, Download or Rent.
Listen to ↓ NPR‘s ‘Here & Now‘ show on ‘Revealing Mr. Maugham’.
This internationally acclaimed artumentary tells the story of one of films most original and adored artist - the French cinema icon Jacques Tati. As the creator of classics such as ‘Mon Oncle’, ‘Les Vacance de Mr. Hulot’ & ’Playtime’, Jacques Tati changed the way the world experiences movies. From Tati’s days as a mime on music-hall stages of 1930s Paris to his Oscar-wining years as ‘Mr. French-Cinema’ during the 1950-60s. Today Jacques Tati remains an inspiration to artists, directors, cartoonists, musicians and film lovers, his unique creative methods and original vision of the world remain powerful to all who experience his films. ‘The Magnificent TATi’ includes clips from every Jacques Tati film and interviews with Mike Mills, Frank Black, Sparks, David Bellos, Sylvain Chomet and many others. Duration: 60 mins. Click HERE to buy the DVD, Download or Rent.
Listen to ↓ NPR‘s ‘Here & Now‘ show on ‘The Magnificent TATi’.
Often called the father of modern photography, Frenchman Eugène Atget embraced a heartfelt realism that influenced generations of younger photographers—including an American, Berenice Abbott, who championed him in his later career and carried on his legacy. This film examines the work of both artists, juxtaposing Atget’s Paris oeuvre with Abbott’s views of New York, describing how their paths crossed amidst the Parisian avant-garde, shedding light on their unlikely connection to the surrealists, and helping viewers understand the aesthetic and personal bond they shared. Rare archival interview footage featuring Berenice Abbott is included, along with commentary from photographers working today. Duration: 52 mins. Click HERE to buy the DVD, Download or Rent.
Great works from other film makers (None are affiliated with SWiM we just like them).
‘The Length of the Alphabet’ a film by Joe Balass
A portrait of the Quebec literary figure Naïm Kattan. Born in Baghdad in 1928, Kattan immigrated to Canada in 1954, where he became interested in the country’s intellectual life, quickly integrating into it. Journalist, novelist, essayist and playwright, literary critic, professor and cultural administrator, fervent defender of the French language, he has written hundreds of literary reviews and nearly 50 works on topics such as the diversity of human relations and the coexistence of different cultures. His circle included such artists and intellectuals as André Gide, René Lévesque, André Laurendeau, Jacques Godbout and Fernand Ouellette. This film is based on conversations with Kattan, as well as excerpts from archives and interviews with several well-known figures. More than just a portrait, it takes a unique look at contemporary history and provides insight into the fascinating life and vision of this writer, a living witness to our collective memory. The film is currently on TV Canada and will be available on DVD from this SITE. (visit because it is worth seeing the other films Joe Balass has done)
SWiM notes on ‘The Length of the Alphabet’ - This is a wonderful film that really shows us how literature changes the world, the film is simply exquisitely made but more importantly the story of Mr. Kattan is an inspiration to all ‘internationalist’. It was very moving for me personally to see a person use his art not only to relocate himself to a new world but to improve his new world, doesn’t get much better than this in my opinion.
‘John Cage – Journeys in Sound’ a film by Allan Miller & Paul Smaczny
This documentary by Oscar-winner Allan Miller and Emmy-winner Paul Smaczny pays tribute to the most fascinating American avant-garde composer John Cage. Shot in America, Germany and Japan, the program premieres rare archival footage; presenting concert excerpts and a set of short episodes, featuring associates of Cage and contemporary artists, playfully delineating different aspects of John Cage. The documentary features interviews with Yoko Ono, David Tudor, Christian Wolff, Steffen Schleiermacher, Irvine Arditti, Toshio Hosokawa, Mayumi Miyata, Calvin Tomkins and many others. “John Cage – Journeys in Sound“ will delight and enthral both Cage novices as well as die-hard fans. To Buy DVD click HERE.
SWiM notes on ‘John Cage – Journeys in Sound’ - This film really explains clearly what exactly Cage did with sound, it is funny and wonderful, the stuff about how Cage used the I Ching to compose is amazing.‘The Successor of Kakiemon’ - The Story of the Kakiemon Porcelain Dynasty a film by Suzanne Raes
How does one take over a company that is four centuries old and has been run by one’s father, his father’s father and so on. Here is the unique story of such a time capsule where we witness how a modern-day Japanese family that has transformed everyday pottery into the world famous mythical Kakiemon porcelain and preserves its traditions, now passes on the leadership to their only son. Is he up to the task that lies ahead? What’s at stake if this successor does not succeed? Kakiemon, one of the most refined types of porcelain, was developed in the 17th century by ceramist Sakaida Kakiemon. Today, the production, entirely handmade and handpainted is still owned by his direct descendants. Keeping this tradition alive is more than just reproducing craft. It is somewhat a statement against modernity end massproduction. After periods of isolation and expansion, wars, nuclear bombs and now a devastating earthquake, this Japanese family is clinging to tradition – no matter how fragile it is. Coming Soon to DVD from Submarine.
SWiM notes on ‘The Successor of Kakiemon’ - One of the most beautifully told stories of how an ancient Japanese craft is surviving and evolving, great to learn the +’s and -’s of being a state sponsored craft in Japan.‘Joan Miró, The Ladder of Escape’ a film by by Martin Hampton
The film explores Joan Miró’s life and working practice, beginning at his family’s farm in Montroig, Catalonia, a sanctuary for him throughout his life and the source of much of his artistic inspiration. Guided by Miró’s grandson and the curators from Tate Modern, the film visits his complex of studios and workshops overlooking the sea near Palma, Mallorca, where he moved after the Second World War and where he worked prolifically until his death at the age of 93. It includes rare material from films by Pere Portabella and Català Roca of Miró at work, and testimonials from friends who remember him as a remarkably generous and humble man. The film was made to accompany the exhibition ‘Joan Miró, The Ladder of Escape’ at Tate Modern, London. To Buy DVD click HERE.
SWiM notes on ‘Joan Miró, The Ladder of Escape’ - I learned so much about the painter from this film, it gave me context to really respect Miró’s personal and artistic plight during the most horrible years of civil war and WWII. The film is a great example of how history and art influence one another.‘Salvador dali, génie tragi-comique’ a film by François Lévy-Kuentz
Is Salvador Dalí (1904-1989) essentially a media construct or one of the greatest and most popular artists of the 20th century? This self-described genius and last of the Surrealists is certainly the most famous Spanish painter, alongside Picasso, and one of the rare artists to have remained in our collective unconscious. A multi-faceted artist, a tireless self-promoter, scientific theorist and performer, this apostle of hyperrealism and psychedelicism is the Don Quixote of modern art, whose inimitable body of works draws upon the death wish and other tenets of psychoanalysis. The film explores his recurrent themes in the light of his personality and the myth he spent his entire life creating, taking us through the many disciplines he navigated (painting, sculpture, film, theatre), the sites essential to his art (Cadaqués, Paris, Madrid, Perpignan, New York), and a wealth of archival documents. To buy DVD click Here.
SWiM notes on ‘Salvador dali, génie tragi-comique’ - I really admired how Dali knew as early as the 1920s that the media has one use – to gain wide exposure in order to sell his paintings. He shunned the official Surrealist Group and made no apologies for being himself. This film really appealed to my sense of rebel and I learned from this film that Dali deserves respect for being a sort of patron saint of freaky creatives.‘Life Architecturally’ a film by Britt Arthur
Life Architecturally follows internationally acclaimed husband and wife team, architect Robert McBride and interior designer Debbie Ryan, to discover what inspires their groundbreaking architectural concepts and designs. This intimate documentary observes the pressures of building a multi-story, twin-tower development; revolutionary new schools, one in the shape of an infinity symbol, and the ongoing construction and design of their own family home – which is on the backburner once again due to how busy they are. Plus, they’re part of an international consortium short-listed to design and construct the new billion-dollar Cancer Care Centre in Melbourne. The stakes are high. The vision is bold. And there’s a personal reason for their passion. To buy DVD click Here.
SWiM notes on ‘Life Architecturally’ - Few films can mix the reality of modern life and the challenges of being a creative like this one does. I was blown away by this charming couple’s work and felt as though I knew them personally from this film, this one is a real gem for those interested in design.
‘Chihuly Outside’ a film by Peter West
A look at the installation art of Dale Chihuly, spanning nearly a half-century, in particular, his work done in the landscape. The film begins with Chihuly’s early experiments with floating glass on water and working with ice and neon in large-scale installations. It presents his recent projects at Artpark in upstate New York and culminates in the decade-long cycle of exhibitions at 12 preeminent gardens. Interviews with Kiki Smith, Barbara Rose and the artist himself place his work in the broader context of contemporary art. What emerges is a portrait of an artist who continually searches for new possibilities in which his art can respond to natural spaces. To buy DVD click Here.
SWiM notes on ‘Chihuly Outside’ - So you think you come up with original ideas for art projects? Well you better see this film because I bet you can’t touch what this man Dale Chihuly does – He makes glass sculptures I wouldn’t dream of even if I was on LSD – truly wonderful stuff! Nature,Art, Travel, it is all in this guys story – a must see it for Mr. Chihuly’s sheer uniqueness, very inspiring indeed.