AN ENGLISHMAN IN NEW YORK - NFT SCREENINGS



Fresh from its premiere screening at the Berlin International Film Festival last week, the National Film Theatre and the BFI will be screening Richard Laxton's An Englishman In New York during the 23rd London Lesbian And Gay Film Festival.

The screenings take place on the 26th and 27th March 2009, at 6.00pm and 4.00pm respectively. For the evening screening on the 26th the Festival is hoping to have some of the cast and crew present. Nothing has been confirmed yet. Booking opens to BFI Members on 3rd March and to the public on the 6th.





Reuters reported from the Berlin screening:

"An Englishman in New York" focuses on the enigmatic Crisp, remembered by some as Britain's most famous gay man and best known for his sardonic humor and trademark blouse, scarf, and tipped-to-the-side fedora. The film, which had its premiere at the Berlin film festival, follows Crisp during his old age in self-imposed exile, after he shot to fame with the release of a 1975 autobiographical film about his youth in a conservative Britain.



Actor John Hurt revisits a role he first played over 30 years ago in that film — "The Naked Civil Servant" — based on the book Crisp wrote about gay life on the fringes of society. The film is part showcase for his witticisms, part homage to his lifestyle — Crisp lived in bedsits and tiny studio apartments even after he became wealthy, and was uncompromising in his embrace of loneliness even at the end of his life.



Director Richard Laxton told Reuters after a screening of the film he found it difficult to revisit such a revolutionary character, especially after he had attained celebrity but was also loathed by some. "You can get angry at him — he made a lot of strong, forthright statements and never backed down, but that was part of the personality, of who he was," he said.



A main element of the film is Crisp's conflict with the very New York gay community that lauded him, after he said during his successful one-man show that "Aids is a fad, nothing more." Made in the early days of what became an epidemic, the comments drove rifts between Crisp and some of his friends, as well with gay activists, with some attacking him in print and in one scene of the film calling him "a bitter old queen."



If anything, the story is a testament to a man who refused to play politics and held his ground regardless of which side of the countercultural fault line his attackers came from. In the film, Crisp defends the Aids statement by saying he did not want homosexuality to become associated with disease, but later quietly donates to Aids research.

Present at the screening, actor Hurt said he was "cagey" at first about playing Crisp a second time after his death, but that their long acquaintance and the man himself made him feel at ease. "I do identify with Quentin, it's been such a long time I've known him … And he once said 'Mr Hurt is my representative on earth', so I have a certain papal blessing," Hurt said."





No sign yet of ITV's planned date to screen this on ITV1. The BFI originally planned to screen the film at the end of 2008 but then ITV changed its mind over when to broadcast it. In the meantime we have some lovely new pictures courtesy of the NFT/BFI website for the LLGFF. Thanks also to Reuters and ITV.

An Englishman In New York is an ITV/Leopard Films Production. Directed by Richard Laxton. Written by Brian Fillis. With John Hurt, Cynthia Nixon, Swoozie Kurtz, Denis O'Hare, Jonathan Tucker.

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