Mark Cousins

Participates in 1 Session
Mark Cousins is a Northern Irish filmmaker, writer and curator living and working in Scotland.  He started by making films for TV about neo-Nazism, Ian Hamilton Finlay and the cinema of Iran. 
 
Then, in the early 90s he became director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival, rethought the festival and took it to Sarajevo in defiance of the siege.  He is now one of its patrons. He co-founded the charity Scottish Kids are Making Movies, focussing on children and creativity, which has become a theme in his work.
 
Next Cousins was the TV host of BBC2’s Moviedrome.  He co-edited Imagining Reality: The Faber Book of Documentary (“Indispensible” - Times Literary Supplement), which is still used in film courses around the world. He directed and presented BBC2’s Scene by Scene, which ran for five years, screening career interviews with, amongst others, Martin Scorsese, Jane Russell, Paul Schrader, Bernardo Bertolucci, David Lynch, Roman Polanski, Jeanne Moreau, Steven Spielberg, Woody Allen, Lauren Bacall and Rod Steiger. (“A revelation” - Times)
 
Together with Robert Carlyle and Irvine Welsh, Cousins is a director of the production company 4Way Pictures.  In 2004 he helped establish Sylvain Chomet’s Studio Django in Edinburgh.  Between 2001 and 2011, he wrote for Prospect.  His 2004 book The Story of Film, was published in Europe, America, China, Mexico, Brazil and Taiwan.  The Times said of it “by some distance the best book we have read on cinema.”
 
Cousins adapted the book into a 930 minute film, The Story of Film: An Odyssey (“The place from which all future revisionism should begin” - New York Times).  It played in the Berlin, Telluride, Toronto, Palm Springs, Hong Kong, and many other festivals, and at art centres such as the Walker in Minneapolis, BAM in Brooklyn, the Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art in Beijing, Bozar in Brussels, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  Michael Moore gave it the Stanley Kubrick Award at his Traverse City Film Festival.  It won the Peabody Award, was BAFTA Scotland nominated, and received other prizes.
 
Cousins has been guest curator at film festivals around the world, is Honorary Professor of Film at the University of Glasgow and Honorary Doctor of Letters at the Universities of Edinburgh and Stirling.  He was Co-Artistic Director of Cinema China and The Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams, with Tilda Swinton.  They devised The Scottish Cinema of Dreams in Beijing and did A Pilgrimage (www.a-pilgrimage.org). 
 
Next Cousins wrote, directed and filmed his first feature documentary, The First Movie, about kids in Kurdish Iraq.  It won the Prix Italia, was nominated for a Royal Television Society award and won several other international prizes. He and Swinton launched the 8 ½ Foundation, an ambitious two year event which created a new movie birthday for children in Scotland.  It was nominated for the Human Rights Award.  He published his fourth book, Watching Real People Elsewhere in the UK, America, and China.
 
In 2012 he was nominated for the London Awards for Art and Performance and the Screen International award. He was guest curator at the Eye Cinematheque in Amsterdam. 
 
His next feature film, What is this Film called Love?, played in 20 countries, at the Institute for Contemporary Arts in London, and was nominated for Best Director by BAFTA Scotland.  PJ Harvey called it “revelatory and inspiring”.
In 2012, Cousins’ work showed in Karlovy Vary, Montenegro, Bratislava, Moscow, Rio, Dubai, Bosnia, San Francisco, Sweden, Seattle, Chicago, Berwick, Inverness, Edinburgh, CPX Dox, and Hong Kong. 
 
In 2013 he completed Here be Dragons, a film essay about Albania which won the main prize in the Romania Film Festival, and A Story of Children and Film, which was in the Official Selection in Cannes, and received five star reviews around the world.  He curated Cinema of Childhood, a series of 17 films which toured the UK and Ireland for a year.  He has twice been nominated for the Spirit of Scotland award and received the Visionary Award in Traverse City and the Saltzgeber Prize for outstanding contribution to film at the Berlin Film Festival.  His recent films are Life May Be, co-directed with Iranian filmmaker Mania Akbari, and 6 Desires, an adaptation of DH Lawrence’s book Sea and SardiniaLife May Be was called “transcendent and extraordinary delicate”.  It won the Don Quixote prize in Switzerland.  6 Desires, in which Jarvis Cocker plays the voice of Lawrence, had its world premiere at the London Film Festival, and its international premiere at Sundance. (“Beautiful” – Jonathan Glazer).  Cousins is now a columnist for the film magazines Sight and Sound and Filmkrant, and wrote a limited edition booklet about Abbas Kiarostami, First Life, Second Life.
 
Cousins’ The Oar and the Winnowing Fan was a radical takeover of the DazedDigital website.  His film I am Belfast, about his home city, which has a new score by David Holmes and cinematography by Christopher Doyle, was being relased by the British Film Institute.  The film industry magazine Variety compared it to the great soviet director Dziga Vertov; it has been widely acclaimed, and won the Stanley Kubrick Award.  He made But Then Again, Too Few to Mention, a short film commissioned by the British Council, and Your Eyes Flashing Solemnly with Hate, a short film about Pier Paolo Pasolini, and has begun Dear John Grierson, a four hour film about the history of documentary.  His BBC and BFI film Atomic, a collaboration with the band Mogwai, was called “a masterpiece”, “sublime” and “overwhelming”.  Its live version has played play in Hiroshima, Chernobyl, Coventry Cathedral and the Edinburgh and Holland International Festivals.
 
Cousins is curating a season of films for the Romanian Cultural Institute in London, and has just completed a fiction feature “shame musical” film, Stockholm my Love, which stars Neneh Cherry and which was also shot by Doyle. It has been bought by Fortissimo. Cousins directed it, and wrote the lyrics to the songs.  He has just completed Bigger than The Shining, a secret project which is showable by film festivals if they publish its name only, and don’t describe it in any way, and is planning his biggest project yet, The Story of Looking.  He has been given permission by the estate of Orson Welles to make a film about Welles’s graphic art, and had had retrospectives in the UK, Finland and Greece.
 
He once recorded the voice for a drum and bass dance track about the film La Maman et la putain, likes to dance and drive his campervan.
 

Sessions in which Mark Cousins participates

Tuesday 27 September, 2016

Time Zone: PDT/(GMT-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)