The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Baker's Dozen

"Shy People Telling Small Stories, Quietly": Jeanie Finlay's Favourite Films
Adrian Lobb , April 24th, 2014 10:40

Jeanie Finlay, director of Sound It Out and The Great Hip Hop Hoax picks her favourite films, and talks about the final days of fundraising on her next documentary, Orion


Black Narcissus (1947, Powell and Pressburger)
If I could only choose one film, it would be this one. It is my desert island film. I don't think it is the best film I have ever seen, but it has so much in it that I love, that is perfect, it is just brilliant. I feel very emotionally attached to this film. I have been with my husband for – shit, I always get this wrong – 17 years. I was working on the box office, he was a film student. Before we started going out, he said there was a film he wanted to take me to see, and it was Black Narcissus. And I felt like, wow, if he can show me this, he could show me the world! I fell in love with him because of this film. It has so much. Powell and Pressburger were this dynamic team of a Brit and a Hungarian working together in the rocky post-war years, and what I love about their films is that they create whole worlds. Jack Cardiff films them on a soundstage, and he created magic by grading large black and white photographs with chalk. He made the Himalayas come to life through photography and chalk. It is a kind of witchcraft that is really enticing about filmmaking. It is the moody, broody way it is shot that is amazing.

It is quite a dark film about sexual repression, madness and nuns, and a man with strong thighs straddling a mule and causing this maelstrom of emotions. There is so much about it that is amazing – just the way at the end, when Sister Ruth stands at the bells just looking deranged before chucking Sister Clodagh off the edge. There are other films they have made, like A Matter Of Life And Death that are visually more beautiful, but there is something incredibly raw and visceral and immediate about that film. As soon as I saw it, I felt it was the best film I had ever seen.