MAVERICK SPIRIT AWARD - TERENCE DAVIES - Cinequest Film Festival 22
Saturday, March 10th - 7pm at the California Theatre
The word auteur is all too often tossed around when film directors possessing a certain vision are discussed. Only rarely do we experience a true auteur, adept enough at transforming an intensely personal vision into a moving film experience. There are many terrific story-telling directors, capable of taking us on cinematic journeys via someone elses script. Yet there are few with the consummate skill to place universal emotional truths first on the page and then into evocative images and sound. A bona fide auteur, Terence Davies, continually probes into the depths of the human condition, exploring the vast inexplicable nature of existence through the smallest details. In a Davies film, seemingly innocuous moments, such as averted eyes, words left unsaid, cigarette smoke slowly dissipating in air, carry an emotional force that seeps through the skin, penetrates the heart, wraps around the bones, and refuses to let you go.
Born in Liverpool in 1945, with the port citys bombed out buildings and reconstruction anxiety casting a bleak, post-war pall, Davies spent his early years struggling in a dysfunctional, working-class family dominated by an abusive, alcoholic father and infused with oppressive Catholic dogma. Though he left school at sixteen, supporting himself as an accountant and book keeper, Davies always possessed an artists soul and at age 26, entered Coventry Drama School where he found the perfect medium, cinema, to explore and express his vision. Following his introduction to filmmaking with his short Children, Davies moved on to Britains National Film School, where he delved further into the experiences of his alter ego Robert Tucker, in two more short films, Madonna and Child, and Death and Transfiguration. The three films were then ultimately released as The Terence Davies Trilogy, receiving much acclaim and numerous awards.
Though not as prolific as most directors, Davies work never fails to deliver the highest quality, constantly probing the churning emotional depths of what it means to be alive. Distant Voices, Still Lives, which draws heavily on his early boyhood in a highly dysfunctional Liverpool family, demonstrates a growing sophistication with filmmaking elements and tools and his following film, The Long Day Closes reveals an artist at the top of his game. With deft mastery of the form, highlighted by fluid camera work, slow, dream-like tracking shots, pans, and dissolves, Davies uses image and sound to expertly summon up the joy of youthful innocence and its eventual, devastating loss into the indifference of the universe.
Often described as symphonic in nature, Davies films have a power similar to that of the most profound composers, a resonance that touches and remains in the psyche long after the credits roll. And, much like another master filmmaker, Martin Scorsese, Davies has an uncanny knack of perfectly placing popular music in his films that not only transports you to a particular era, but also evokes an emotional connection to both that era and his characters.
Considering the consistently stellar quality of a Terence Davies film experience, its no wonder The Evening Standard dubbed him, Britains greatest living film director.
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