The Cinema of Peter Watkins

Featuring a one-week run of his searing 1971 classic “Punishment Park” (presented in a brand-new 35mm print!) Series co-presented by BAFTA Los Angeles.

BAFTA members get $4 off tickets to all shows in the series. BAFTA members: to redeem their discount, you can either: a) present your membership card at the Cinefamily box office before the show; or b) purchase advance tickets, and you will be be refunded the $4 difference at the box office when claiming your will call tickets.

 

BUY TICKETS ($12/free for members. Showtimes subject to change):
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PUNISHMENT PARK:

Wednesday, September 26th: 7:30pm (OPENING NIGHT PARTY, cast/crew in person!)
Thursday, September 27th: 10:15pm
Friday, September 28th: 5:30pm
Saturday, September 29th: 10:15pm
Sunday, September 30th: 9:30pm
Monday, October 1st: 7:30pm

 

THE WAR GAME + CULLODEN

Saturday, September 29th: 7:30pm

Completely singular in the world of cinema due to his one-of-a-kind blurring of the lines between documentary and fiction storytelling, Peter Watkins is one of the most neglected major filmmakers of the last half-century. Since the early 1960s, the British-born director has managed, against trying and often adversarial circumstances, to produce a highly original and powerful body of work that engages the worlds of politics, art, history, and literature. That these films remain obscure is a function of such factors as suppression by producers or weak-kneed film distributors, surprisingly unsympathetic — at times hostile — critics, and the filmmaker’s own legendary iconoclasm.

 

The Cinefamily is very, very excited to bring to Los Angeles the brand-new 35mm print of Punishment Park, Watkins’ lone 1971 foray into stateside filmmaking. An astonishing all-American dystopia that’s both terrifyingly realistic and fantastically hyperbolic, Peter Watkins’ masterpiece Punishment Park melts down the righteous anger of Vietnam protest politics into a nail-biting flow of pure narrative propulsion. In the film’s chilling “what-if” scenario, a uniformly groovy panoply of subversives (featuring pacifists, feminists, professors, draft dodgers and pop stars) stand in resistance against repressive establishment squares at a lethal government-sponsored kangaroo court — but survival soon trumps articulateness, as the prisoners are plunged into the deepest levels of hell right in the open air: a grueling, Most Dangerous Game-style desert death race with no food or water, but plenty of ticked-off cops. Shot guerilla-style on 16mm camera in a Mojave Desert dry lake bed, this docudrama trailblazer is unforgiving, raw, and scorching, and features shocking performances from its non-professional actors, who were cast primarily for their ability to speak on-camera about their real-life political beliefs. While insightfully awash in Seventies counterculture, Punishment Park is no time capsule, for what’s most terrifying is how relevant its alternate-reality police state still feels forty years later.
Punishment Park Dir. Peter Watkins, 1971, 35mm, 88 min.

 

In addition to our one-week run of Punishment Park, the series also includes Watkins’ early award-winning British productions The War Game (1965, winner of the 1966 Academy Award for Best Documentary Film) and Culloden (1964).

 

Watch Cinefamily’s original trailer for “Punishment Park”!

Punishment Park (10/1, 7:30pm)

Brand-new 35mm print!
punishmentpark3_website
10/1/2012 - 7:30PM

An astonishing all-American dystopia that’s both terrifyingly realistic and fantastically hyperbolic, Peter Watkins’ masterpiece Punishment Park melts down the righteous anger of Vietnam protest politics into a nail-biting flow of pure narrative propulsion. In the film’s chilling “what-if” scenario, a uniformly groovy panoply of subversives (featuring pacifists, feminists, professors, draft dodgers and pop stars) stand in resistance against repressive establishment squares at a lethal government-sponsored kangaroo court — but survival soon trumps articulateness, as the prisoners are plunged into the deepest levels of hell right in the open air: a grueling, Most Dangerous Game-style desert death race with no food or water, but plenty of ticked-off cops. Shot guerilla-style on 16mm in a Mojave Desert dry lake bed, this docudrama trailblazer is unforgiving, raw, and scorching, and features shocking performances from its non-professional actors, who were cast primarily for their ability to speak on-camera about their real-life political beliefs. While insightfully awash in Seventies counterculture, Punishment Park is no time capsule, for what’s most terrifying is how relevant its alternate-reality police state still feels forty years later. Brand-new 35mm print!
Dir. Peter Watkins, 1971, 35mm, 88 min.

Watch Cinefamily’s original trailer for “Punishment Park”!

Punishment Park (9/30, 9:30pm)

Brand-new 35mm print!
punishmentpark1_website
9/30/2012 - 9:30PM

An astonishing all-American dystopia that’s both terrifyingly realistic and fantastically hyperbolic, Peter Watkins’ masterpiece Punishment Park melts down the righteous anger of Vietnam protest politics into a nail-biting flow of pure narrative propulsion. In the film’s chilling “what-if” scenario, a uniformly groovy panoply of subversives (featuring pacifists, feminists, professors, draft dodgers and pop stars) stand in resistance against repressive establishment squares at a lethal government-sponsored kangaroo court — but survival soon trumps articulateness, as the prisoners are plunged into the deepest levels of hell right in the open air: a grueling, Most Dangerous Game-style desert death race with no food or water, but plenty of ticked-off cops. Shot guerilla-style on 16mm in a Mojave Desert dry lake bed, this docudrama trailblazer is unforgiving, raw, and scorching, and features shocking performances from its non-professional actors, who were cast primarily for their ability to speak on-camera about their real-life political beliefs. While insightfully awash in Seventies counterculture, Punishment Park is no time capsule, for what’s most terrifying is how relevant its alternate-reality police state still feels forty years later. Brand-new 35mm print!
Dir. Peter Watkins, 1971, 35mm, 88 min.

Watch Cinefamily’s original trailer for “Punishment Park”!

Punishment Park (9/29, 10:15pm)

Brand-new 35mm print!
punishmentpark4_website
9/29/2012 - 10:15PM

An astonishing all-American dystopia that’s both terrifyingly realistic and fantastically hyperbolic, Peter Watkins’ masterpiece Punishment Park melts down the righteous anger of Vietnam protest politics into a nail-biting flow of pure narrative propulsion. In the film’s chilling “what-if” scenario, a uniformly groovy panoply of subversives (featuring pacifists, feminists, professors, draft dodgers and pop stars) stand in resistance against repressive establishment squares at a lethal government-sponsored kangaroo court — but survival soon trumps articulateness, as the prisoners are plunged into the deepest levels of hell right in the open air: a grueling, Most Dangerous Game-style desert death race with no food or water, but plenty of ticked-off cops. Shot guerilla-style on 16mm in a Mojave Desert dry lake bed, this docudrama trailblazer is unforgiving, raw, and scorching, and features shocking performances from its non-professional actors, who were cast primarily for their ability to speak on-camera about their real-life political beliefs. While insightfully awash in Seventies counterculture, Punishment Park is no time capsule, for what’s most terrifying is how relevant its alternate-reality police state still feels forty years later. Brand-new 35mm print!
Dir. Peter Watkins, 1971, 35mm, 88 min.

Watch Cinefamily’s original trailer for “Punishment Park”!

The War Game + Culloden

wargame_website
9/29/2012 - 7:30PM

The War Game – 7:30pm
1965′s BBC film The War Game depicts, in stark and stunning B&W, and in just under an hour, the weeks surrounding a fictional world war that prompts a Soviet nuclear attack against Britain. It is terrifying, it is sobering, and it is truly outstanding documentary filmmaking — except it’s not a documentary. With The War Game’s groundbreaking style, Peter Watkins sharply refined his technique of presenting theoretical situations in newsmagazine fashion, as he utilizes the straightforward authority of a TV news crew to depict the instant blinding of those who witness the nuclear attack, as well as subsequent firestorms, riots, and the eventual gasp of apocalypse that results from the physical, psychological, and societal effects of nuclear fallout. His jarring the audience into understanding the ramifications of nuclear war through startlingly banal detail quickly resulted in the BBC banning the film from further UK broadcast — and earned him a surprise 1966 Best Documentary Feature Oscar. Viewing The War Game from our modern perspective, with the extent of nuclear proliferation since 1965, makes the film even more cathartic than it could have ever been to BBC viewers during the Cold War.
Dir. Peter Watkins, 1965, 35mm, 48 min. (Archival 35mm print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive)

Culloden – 8:30pm-ish
Peter Watkins’ reputation as a political provocateur caught fire with his first feature-length film, an unsettling pseudo-documentary in the style of modern television journalism that portrays a devastating 18th-century Jacobite uprising, with images deliberately evoking on-the-scene tableaux of early Vietnam War footage. With a microscopic budget and an army of non-actors, Watkins captured remarkable “footage” of the Battle of Culloden, regarded as the confrontation that dismantled the clan system of the Scottish Highlands. Watkins’ innovative splicing of historical drama and television news tropes garnered accolades from audiences worldwide, and became a distinctive technique he revisited and refined in later films. As with The War Game, the remarkable performances he coaxed out of his amateur cast — many of whom were direct descendents of those who had been killed in the real-life Battle of Culloden — sparked unfounded rumors of actual cruelty. The perfect introduction to Watkins’ trademark anachronistic contrasts, Culloden is jam-packed full of urgent, necessary intimacy.
Dir. Peter Watkins, 1964, digital presentation, 69 min.

Watch Cinefamily’s original trailer for “The War Game + Culloden”!

Punishment Park (9/28, 5:30pm)

Brand-new 35mm print!
punishmentpark3_website
9/28/2012 - 5:30PM

An astonishing all-American dystopia that’s both terrifyingly realistic and fantastically hyperbolic, Peter Watkins’ masterpiece Punishment Park melts down the righteous anger of Vietnam protest politics into a nail-biting flow of pure narrative propulsion. In the film’s chilling “what-if” scenario, a uniformly groovy panoply of subversives (featuring pacifists, feminists, professors, draft dodgers and pop stars) stand in resistance against repressive establishment squares at a lethal government-sponsored kangaroo court — but survival soon trumps articulateness, as the prisoners are plunged into the deepest levels of hell right in the open air: a grueling, Most Dangerous Game-style desert death race with no food or water, but plenty of ticked-off cops. Shot guerilla-style on 16mm in a Mojave Desert dry lake bed, this docudrama trailblazer is unforgiving, raw, and scorching, and features shocking performances from its non-professional actors, who were cast primarily for their ability to speak on-camera about their real-life political beliefs. While insightfully awash in Seventies counterculture, Punishment Park is no time capsule, for what’s most terrifying is how relevant its alternate-reality police state still feels forty years later. Brand-new 35mm print!
Dir. Peter Watkins, 1971, 35mm, 88 min.

Watch Cinefamily’s original trailer for “Punishment Park”!

Punishment Park (9/27, 10:15pm)

Brand-new 35mm print!
punishmentpark2_website
9/27/2012 - 10:15PM

An astonishing all-American dystopia that’s both terrifyingly realistic and fantastically hyperbolic, Peter Watkins’ masterpiece Punishment Park melts down the righteous anger of Vietnam protest politics into a nail-biting flow of pure narrative propulsion.  In the film’s chilling “what-if” scenario, a uniformly groovy panoply of subversives (featuring pacifists, feminists, professors, draft dodgers and pop stars) stand in resistance against repressive establishment squares at a lethal government-sponsored kangaroo court — but survival soon trumps articulateness, as the prisoners are plunged into the deepest levels of hell right in the open air: a grueling, Most Dangerous Game-style desert death race with no food or water, but plenty of ticked-off cops.  Shot guerilla-style on 16mm in a Mojave Desert dry lake bed, this docudrama trailblazer is unforgiving, raw, and scorching, and features shocking performances from its non-professional actors, who were cast primarily for their ability to speak on-camera about their real-life political beliefs.  While insightfully awash in Seventies counterculture, Punishment Park is no time capsule, for what’s most terrifying is how relevant its alternate-reality police state still feels forty years later.  Brand-new 35mm print!
Dir. Peter Watkins, 1971, 35mm, 88 min.

Watch Cinefamily’s original trailer for “Punishment Park”!

Punishment Park (OPENING NIGHT PARTY, cast/crew in person!)

Brand-new 35mm print!
punishmentpark1_website
9/26/2012 - 7:30PM

An astonishing all-American dystopia that’s both terrifyingly realistic and fantastically hyperbolic, Peter Watkins’ masterpiece Punishment Park melts down the righteous anger of Vietnam protest politics into a nail-biting flow of pure narrative propulsion.  In the film’s chilling “what-if” scenario, a uniformly groovy panoply of subversives (featuring pacifists, feminists, professors, draft dodgers and pop stars) stand in resistance against repressive establishment squares at a lethal government-sponsored kangaroo court — but survival soon trumps articulateness, as the prisoners are plunged into the deepest levels of hell right in the open air: a grueling, Most Dangerous Game-style desert death race with no food or water, but plenty of ticked-off cops.  Shot guerilla-style on 16mm in a Mojave Desert dry lake bed, this docudrama trailblazer is unforgiving, raw, and scorching, and features shocking performances from its non-professional actors, who were cast primarily for their ability to speak on-camera about their real-life political beliefs.  While insightfully awash in Seventies counterculture, Punishment Park is no time capsule, for what’s most terrifying is how relevant its alternate-reality police state still feels forty years later.  Brand-new 35mm print! Plus, cinematographer Joan Churchill and cast members Katherine Quittner, Rob Lewine, Jim Churchill, and Gary & Michelle Johnson will all be here for a Q&A after the screening — and join us for a post-screening reception on Cinefamily’s backyard Spanish patio!
Dir. Peter Watkins, 1971, 35mm, 88 min.

Watch Cinefamily’s original trailer for “Punishment Park”!

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