Darkness Into Light

A brand new film night begins next week. We caught up with director, writer and cineaste DW Mault to tell us all about it…

You’ll know him, if a regular reader of The Double Negative’s film content, as cineaste and creative malcontent DW Mault, writer of searing, honest and occasionally visceral pieces about the latest and best pieces of cinema to fall across his gaze.

Next week however, DW puts his money very much where his mouth is, swapping critic duties for one night a month, and playing host and founder to brand new film night Darkness Into Light, “a perfect metaphor for cinema, says Mault”. We get the lowdown on what we can expect, and why we should sit up and take notice.

For Mault one of the main issues with cinema, and the viewing of cinema in Liverpool, is a yawning gap where regular screenings of interesting, often (dare we say it) esoteric cinema may usually reside. Travel 40 minutes up the road to Manchester’s Cornerhouse for example and, where challenging obscure screenings are concerned, not only do they have them in relative abundance, but the audience is there also.

The same cannot always be said of Liverpool, where city centre cinemas, by and large, tend to stick to mainstream films on general release, lest they risk the very real prospect of too many empty seats. Why is this?  For Mault, the answer is clear: “The issue with viewing cinema in Liverpool is a major lack of contextualisation,” he argues. Long story short, audiences here just aren’t always provided with the necessary tools to decide whether they should go and see a film that you wouldn’t ordinarily stumble across at your local Cineplex.

So, says Mault, “If you put a Bela Tarr film on unannounced, if people take a chance on it they will walk out because they’re used to the hegemony of Anglo Saxon narrative, the way stories are told by Hollywood”. He makes a good point; you may very well be after a different filmic experience but perhaps the near 2 ½ hour The Turin Horse (the Hungarian director’s last film) might not be the ideal place to start without a little background first.

“If you eat hamburgers everyday you get stupid – you have to vary that diet”

“We don’t have a cineaste culture in this country and that’s why I talk about film education being really important. It may sound patronising, but I want people to see these great works of cinema and appreciate them.” Mault, who is unflinching in his fight for Film to be considered an art-form in the UK (as it is elsewhere), declares, “If you eat hamburgers everyday you get stupid – you have to vary that diet”. But, he adds, “Just throw them in [at the deep end] and they’ll walk out”.

This, he contends, is where Darkness Into Light comes in: “I think I’m taking a gamble on the idea that people in Liverpool are hungry for cultural product they are not getting, and that being contextualised and talked about in an interesting way.” So, where and in what form will this contextualisation come into play? “The contextualisation will be me introducing the film, and I’ll always try and have a Q&A afterwards. There’s nothing [regularly on offer] in Liverpool where you can see a film and discuss it afterwards.”

Next week’s inaugural screening, timely industry documentary Side By Side, will be followed by a discussion and Q&A led by a panel made up, besides Mault, of Filmmakers Matthew Fox (founder, Outsiders Film Festival), Chris Bernard (director, Letter to Brezhnev, TBC) and Solon Papadopoulos (producer and director, Hurricane Films).

Looking at the revolutionary process whereby digital technologies in filmmaking have begun, in many cases, to take over from the traditional method involving shooting a picture on film, editing it and then projecting it, the film features the likes of Davids Fincher and Lynch, Steven Soderbergh and Martin Scorcese. It’s an almost perfect first screening argues Mault: “It’s a must for anyone interested in cinema as a film student – it’s just great filmmakers all talking about film.”

We ask about the scheduling of Darkness Into Light, falling as it does on a Tuesday, which also happens to be the slot FACT use for their weekly Discover Tuesdays strand to showcase more diverse movies. He assures us that nothing sinister is at play, explaining that the initial plan was to screen on Wednesdays: “that night was already taken for gigs so it had to be shifted back a day … Liverpool is small, but … this is not a challenge to anyone, two things can sit side by side.”

For our money, Darkness Into Light is something the city– whether it realised it or not – has been missing, and in some quarters, crying out for. That screenings take place in the Gallery at Camp and Furnace in the heart of the burgeoning Baltic Triangle, a place steadfastly cementing its reputation as a destination for creatives, should do it absolutely no harm either. As Mault says to us: “Give it a go, come down.”

With the promise of first showings, screenings of rare and brilliant reissues and the probability of visiting directors,we don’t need to be asked twice, we’re there.

Darkness Into Light takes place on the last Tuesday of each month, beginning the 26th March, 8pm @ Camp and Furnace £3

Posted on 21/03/2013 by thedoublenegative