Cinergy with Duane Hopkins

The director, screenwriter, producer and artist Duane Hopkins, a representative of the new wave of innovative British film-makers, is another film guest who will lead a masterclass as a part of educational project Cinergy.

Duane Hopkins is one of the most fascinating directors currently working in the UK. His first short film, Field, made in 2001, premiered at Cannes Film Festival. A dark, unblinking tale of rural adolescence won a host of prizes at festivals internationally. Hopkins followed Field in 2003 with his second short film Love Me Or Leave Me Alone, a study in the articulations and limitations of first love', premiered at Edinburgh International Film Festival where it won.

 

In his debut feature film Better Things, which was premiered at International Critics' Week in Cannes 2008, Hopkins combines masterful composition that shows off the dark beauty of Northern England with the stark realism often associated with UK cinema. A multi-narrative tale of love, yearning and loss amongst the young and old of a small town in rural England, Better Things was widely praised by critics as a film that was both radical and nuanced. It was often noted for its use of cinematic technique and narrative approach to connect themes such as romantic need, the roots of drug addiction, and existential notions of anxiety, purposefully against a contemporary, epic rural backdrop.

 

Hopkins has been described as being at the centre of an emergent 'British New Wave' alongside directors like Steve McQueen, with Better Things distinguished "by its technical and stylistic approaches to typical problems of British realism". His film work has been noted for its precise compositions and technical rigour, and for its poetic cinematic rendering of realist subject matter, characters and environments.

 

His second feature Bypass (2014) follows Tim, a young man pushed into responsibility after his older brother is put in jail. With an absent father, a surly younger sister and a pregnant girlfriend, Tim finds himself being dragged deep into the criminal underground in order to try and keep the pieces of his fragmented life from floating away even more. But when he starts feel ill, some sort of escape looks increasingly impossible.

 

Hopkins film examines a generation that has effectively been bypassed by society with no hope or direction. It’s often a tough watch, with Tim’s life becoming ever more strained by a number of indignities and the general air of despair being almost palpable. But Hopkins transcends the clichés often associated with social realism as he indulges in a number of stylistic touches – including chases shot with a handheld camera and touches of the surreal – that create a unique atmosphere. "I wanted the camera as another character,” Hopkins says. “I’ve taken genre cinema and given it a whole new set of tools.”

 

Hopkins also works in the fields of photography and moving image art. His first solo gallery exhibition Sunday, a collection of single and multi-channel moving image installations, opened at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in March 2009. With Sunday Hopkins was said to have "created an experience that is entirely separate from the conventions of sitting in a cinema. He generates a portrait of youth that has a matter of fact, harsh reality to it and a psychological intensity that is unnerving.

 

His films as well as his video art works confirms Hopkins status as one of the great modern UK filmmakers.


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