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''Tommy'' Director to be Highlight of Bristol Fest

Friday 17 November 2006 @ 18:07 - GMT

The Western Daily Press has announced that Ken Russell will make an appearance at Bristol's Encounters International Film Festival

The Tommy director will take part in an on-stage discussion with film critic and Radio 1 broadcaster Mark Kermode at the Watershed Cinema on Friday, November 24. He will reveal the films that have influenced him, discuss why, at 79, he is still passionate about cinema, and present a selection of his recent experimental shorts, including Lion's Mouth and The Revenge Of The Elephant Man.

"I'm a good friend of Mark Kermode, who told me all about Encounters," explains Ken. "And since I enjoy making short films myself, I suppose I feel like one of the bunch. I started out doing shorts and have made about 50, so I'm the king of short films.

"Having seen a selection of entries to the Bristol festival, there are a lot of talented young film- makers out there. The technique is stunning in most cases, but I must admit that what they do with the technique I'm rather less delighted about. It can be a bit dark. There appears to be a preponderance of dark subjects at the moment."

Ken has directed more than 20 feature films in a career spanning 50 years.

Besides Tommy, featuring Elton as the Pinball Wizard, Ken's screen credits include the Oscar and Golden Globe-winning Women in Love, the biopic Valentino with Rudolf Nureyev in the title role, and sci-fi thriller Altered States.

The Southampton native was an actor, dancer, and  photographer, but always ''wanted to make films.'' He adds, ''But how could you get a job if you couldn't show what you could do?

"The only way I could do it was to learn still photography, begin to make a living from it and save up enough money from that to buy film, get it developed, get it printed, put the sound on and so on. It all took a lot of money in those days.''

 Ken recalls, "There were no sponsors back then. These days, sponsors are 19 to the dozen, and it's very good that there are. I don't know what they're getting out of it, mind you."

It was his short flicks which finally got the attention of the BBC.

"When I started making films at the BBC, it was shorts. But then they began to get longer and more sophisticated. That was because I learned how to do the tricks; how to make something out of nothing.

"A lack of finances force you to use your imagination. You know what? Technique is in inverse ratio to imagination in some films. Some films have got fabulous technique, but what a pity they couldn't be more imaginative."

Ken is currently in pre-production on two films The Pearl Of The Orient and Kings X.

He will visit the Watershed at 8.30 p.m.

Tickets cost £10 (£8 concessions). Call 0117 927 5100.

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