Video Premiere: Cerys Hafana – Comed 1858

Cerys Hafana
Photo by Heledd Wyn

Taken from her album ‘Edyf’, Composer and multi-instrumentalist Cerys Hafana premieres her new video for ‘Comed 1858’.

Composer and multi-instrumentalist Cerys Hafana makes a double appearance at Celtic Connections this month. To celebrate, watch the premiere of her new video for ‘Comed 1858’, taken from her latest album Edyf.

By Alex Gallacher

Last year, we reviewed Edyf, featuring the wonderous vocals and Welsh triple harp sounds of composer and multi-instrumentalist Cerys Hafana who hails from Machynlleth, Wales. Danny Neill opened his album review, “Cerys Hafana has a gorgeous, lush voice’ a natural instrument that exudes character singing pitch-perfect melodies with a tongue that prizes all manner of wonderous sound shapes from her mouth.” He adds: “She is a Welsh language progressive folk artist who makes a mockery of my belief that I am a lyrics man, for what she demonstrates to me definitively is that it is the sound and energy of an artist that will hook the listener in, all deeper exploration into lyrical meaning can come later. Primarily, the music itself is almost always the thing that counts and here, with her second album ‘Edyf,’ Cerys Hafana’s sound is simultaneously ancient in feel and yet impossibly, intriguingly modern. It is also in a field of its own; there is nothing else quite like this around…”

Since the release of that album, it’s fair to say that Cerys Hafana has become a more established name, garnering lots of support from the music press, including The Guardian, where Edyf was “Folk Album Of The Month”. The BBC have been especially supportive, to name just a few – she featured on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, BBC Radio 3’s In Tune, was interviewed by Cerys Matthews for 6 Music Festival and recorded a BBC Horizons Maida Vale Session.

This month, she is making a double appearance at Celtic Connections. On 26th January, she appears in Celtic Odyssée, run in association with the Festival Interceltique de Lorient, which aims to foster new inter-Celtic encounters between artists from the 8 European Celtic nations. More details here. The following day, on 27th January, she shares the bill with Catriona Price at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Strathclyde Suite. More details here.

To mark the occasion, we have the pleasure of sharing Cerys Hafana’s new video for Edyf‘s opening track, Comed 1858. Cerys shared the following on the song and video by Amy Daniel and Sarah-Jane Harrison. Alongside her music, the ordinary transforms into otherworldly moments, and the scene featuring the Red Kites is especially breathtaking.

The words of this song were written by Benjamin Jenkins in Pencadair in 1858, and describe his experience of seeing Donati’s Comet, the second most brilliant comet of the 19th century and the first to ever be photographed, pass Earth. I later found out that the first person to ever observe this comet may have been the Welsh astronomer and photographer Thereza Dillwyn Llewelyn, from Swansea.

I had gone looking for cosmically-themed folk songs after going up the hill near where I live to see a shooting star, and was surprised to find a ballad in the Welsh National Library’s archive that mirrored my own experience so closely (despite the chronological and religious differences between me and Benjamin). The track features Welsh triple harp and the electronically manipulated sounds of a metal water bottle being hit.

The video was made by Amy Daniel, with additional cinematography by Sarah-Jane Harrison, and was filmed in various locations around Machynlleth and Aberystwyth in mid-Wales. It tries to capture the sense of awe that Benjamin Jenkins felt at the natural world, and wonders what celestial objects (or beings) might cause a similar sense of amazement for us in this day and age to how Benjamin felt on seeing the shooting star in 1858.

Cerys Hafana Upcoming Live Dates

19th January – Bank Vault, Aberystwyth (details)

26th January – Celtic Odyssée – Celtic Connections, Glasgow (Tickets)

27th January – Catriona Price: Hert with Cerys Hafana – Celtic Connections, Glasgow (Tickets)

7th February – Cerys Hafana + Avice Caro – The Social, London (Tickets)

3 March – St Caron’s Well Festival, Tregaron

6th May – Ty Pawb, Focus Wales, Wrecsam

13th May – Bishop’s House, Sheffield

25th May – Adwaith + Cerys Hafana – Acapela Studio, Cardiff

Websitehttps://ceryshafana.com/

Bandcamp: https://ceryshafana.bandcamp.com/

Source: Video Premiere: Cerys Hafana – Comed 1858

Irish Talent and Film Recognised in BAFTA Longlists

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) today announced the full set of longlists of films and talent that have gone through to Round Two of voting for the 2023 EE BAFTA Film Awards. We are delighted to see that several Irish films and story makers were featured in the 24 categories, including three Screen Ireland-supported films.

An Cailín Ciúin (The Quiet Girl) has recently made history as the first Irish language film to be shortlisted for the Oscars, and continues to confirm its hit status with audiences and critics alike this awards season after an exceptional year rich in festival and cinema screenings. An intricate, deeply felt coming-of-age drama that delves into the meaning of family through the eyes of a neglected young girl, the film is longlisted in three categories, including Best Director (Colm Bairéad), Adapted Screenplay and Film Not In The English Language.

Two Screen Ireland-supported documentaries are also featured on today’s longlists. Nothing Compares, Kathryn Ferguson’s richly cinematic portrait of Sinéad OʼConnorʼs phenomenal rise to worldwide fame and exile from the pop mainstream, is shortlisted in the Oustanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer category. The documentary and An Cailín Ciúin are both currently screening in select cinemas across Ireland showcasing the best of 2022 Irish film, including the Irish Film Institute and Light House Cinema.

A fascinating look at the life and legend of an iconic Irish actor, Adrian Sibley’s The Ghost of Richard Harris is a feature documentary which recalls the life of the legendary actor, poet, and singer with the help of his sons, his friends and exclusive footage and interviews. The film is longlisted in the Documentary category. After a World Premiere at the Venice Film Festival this summer, the film was released in a limited theatrical run, followed by a streaming release on Sky Arts.

We are also delighted to see Irish talent recognised with the inclusion of multiple films featuring Irish cast, crew and locations, including The WonderGood Luck To You, Leo GrandeRoald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical and The Banshees of Inisherin. Congratulations to all longlisted films, and wishing them the best for the second round of voting.

Final nominations in all categories will be announced on Thursday 19th January, a month before the EE BAFTA Films Awards ceremony on 19th February at the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall. The full list of longlisted films can be found here.

 

Source: Irish Talent and Film Recognised in BAFTA Longlists

Movies to help us through: “Another Year”

By Michael Stevenson

The Hobbledehoy never fail to see the latest film from British director Mike Leigh. High Hopes, Life Is Sweet, Career Girls, Happy Go Lucky are each wonderful films, but the one we need to help us through the Covid-19 lockdown is 2010’s Another Year.

Why is film necessary viewing during our confinement? I love how the characters in Another Year take care of each other. The script covers four seasons in the life of one British couple, Tom (Jim Broadbent) and Gerri (Ruth Sheen) and their small group of friends. The couple tends a seasonal garden that requires tender care, as does their challenging friend “Mary” (Lesley Manville) – a deeply troubled narcissist trying to hold onto her youth by pursuing her friend’s much younger son. There is birth, death, disease and always much love throughout.

Leigh’s actors Broadbent (Another Year, Life Is Sweet) Sheen (High Hopes, Vera Drake) and Manville (High Hopes) each give brilliant performances.

Said one reviewer of Another Year: “Ordinary people doing really ordinary things and making these things really important.”

I suppose that’s what we are each doing during this lockdown – making seemingly ordinary things, like staying at home, really important. And caring for each other, even our crazy friends.

Have you seen Another Year ? If so, tell us your thoughts. Have your own film recommendation to help us get through? Tell us.

Watch ANOTHER YEAR on Amazon

Interview with Jim Broadbent and Lesley Manville

Review: “Georgy Girl” Is No Feminist Statement

By Mark Fraser

Viewed with a proverbial pinch of salt, Silvio Narizzano’s Georgy Girl (1966) is what UK-based media commentator Leanne Weston aptly calls “a comedy of manners turned social critique set amidst the backdrop of ‘Swinging London’”.

It is also, Weston adds in her 2018 essay on the film, “about a world and a girl in transition”, in which the titular character Georgina “Georgy” Parkin (Lynn Redgrave) is portrayed at different times as either “an object of inspiration, affection or ridicule”.

More to the point, though, she is also seen as an object of desire, and it’s this treatment of the protagonist that gives the film’s narrative a sinister undertone as it pretends – in line with The Seekers’ song on which it is partly based – to be a tale about liberation and individualism when in fact, behind its genial facade, it is really one concerning incarceration and servitude.

Or, to put it another way, there’s quite a bit of unpleasant subtext at work in this movie.

Sure – the awkwardly individualistic Georgy has undergone something of a transformation by the end of the film as she achieves what appears to be a form of compromised marital bliss.

But how she gets there does, at times, touch upon the highly dubious.

During the first third of the story, for instance, Georgy’s father’s rich employer James Leamington (James Mason) – a childless businessman who insists he always looked upon her as a daughter while she was growing up in his house – suggests they enter a written contract whereby she becomes his mistress (this while his wife Ellen, played by Rachel Kempson, is dying). Oddly, despite balking at this generous offer to effectively be his whore, by the movie’s conclusion she has ended up marrying the man – an act which allows her, in the words of The Seekers at least, to become “a new Georgy girl”.

Meanwhile, Georgy’s in-residence butler dad Ted (Bill Owen) more or less pimps her off to his boss (admittedly this is only suggested in a brief exchange of dialogue; nevertheless the implication is there), reaffirming his and his wife Doris’ (Clare Kelly) fear that their lone offspring is an awkward loser whose only real hope in life is to attach herself to some well-to-do gent.

And, before she eventually ties the knot with Leamington, the hitherto virginal heroine has an affair with Jos Jones (Alan Bates), who has just married her roommate/best friend Meredith (Charlotte Rampling) after the latter becomes pregnant.

To complicate matters, following the baby’s arrival a bitterly post-natal Meredith – who has already aborted previous pregnancies with Jones – decides she will adopt the infant out, at which point Georgy steps in as the surrogate mother. In effect this not only allows her to strengthen her connection with the soon-to-be divorced father, but also forces her to lie to the UK Government’s social services agency in order to keep her “daughter” Sara (actor unknown).

But when her happy-go-lucky lover irresponsibly throws caution to the wind by quitting his stifling job at the bank, Georgy has to reassess everything and, it’s at this point, she decides the lecherous old Leamington (who’s actually only 49) is the better option. Unfortunately, this development looks like it too may eventually be fraught with difficulty when – just as the newly-weds are being driven away from the church ceremony – her husband’s face seriously drops as it dawns on him that he hasn’t just secured a new (and much younger) squeeze who he has known since she was a baby, but will now have to compete with someone else’s child for his bride’s affections.

Thus, how their life of marital bliss will pan out becomes one of the story’s big unknowns as it’s here that the end credits roll. If anything, it is likely much of the above-mentioned unsavouriness dogging Georgy’s existence will continue as she embarks on what is in no way a certain future.

Mixed message

Georgy Girl

While this might sound like a grimly sanctimonious interpretation of a movie which, in many ways, tries to pass itself off as a melodramatic comedy, the conclusion is still inescapable – the ugly duckling heroine may have become something of a swan, but she ultimately looks set to remain stranded in the same stagnant pond. Or, to put it bluntly (and contrary to what the plot might otherwise be suggesting), it’s highly unlikely there will ever be a completely satisfactory existence for this woman.

In her above-mentioned essay on the film, which is included in the promotional material accompanying Powerhouse Films Ltd’s Blu-ray release of Georgy Girl, Weston acknowledges it does not treat its leading character “with warmth or hold her in such high regard” as audiences of the day did. Rather, “she is side-lined in her own story”; an interesting observation given Redgrave, in real life (and, one might add, quite unfairly) received third billing behind Mason and Bates.

“From today’s vantage point, Georgy just seems like an ordinary girl: vivacious, flawed, yet lovable – someone we could be friends with,” the critic says. “And that’s what makes the film so interesting.”

Perhaps. However, it’s also arguable that much of the movie’s intrigue stems from the fact its outlook is decidedly brutal. No one in the film, for instance, seems to have a particularly strong moral compass. Furthermore, at the end of its cinematic day, Swinging London is portrayed as a dead end; a place where wanton hedonism may be commonplace, but the privileged class still gets what it wants so long as it’s willing to pay the price. Thus, as a commentary about what was then the emerging youth culture’s attempt to distance itself from a stuffier (read older) generation, Georgy Girl actually turns out to be quite pessimistic.

This begs the question: is this what the film makers – particularly screenwriters Margaret Forster (who wrote the novel on which the movie is based) and Peter Nichols – set out to do?

Possibly, but it is quite difficult to ascertain as the quirky and upbeat feel of the whole narrative doesn’t seem to have an overtly ironic (or tragic) bone in its bubbly celluloid body.

Interestingly, Redgrave more or less agreed that the film’s portrayal of her character was not exactly positive when being interviewed by journalist Howard Maxford back in 1996.

“George (sic) is quite ruthless really,” she said. “So it is an immoral story, but George was such a survivor that people identified with her.”

Survival, though, comes at a cost – something, it seems, which may have been lost on progressive audiences of the day. As for contemporary viewers who embrace the values of the Me Too movement, they no doubt will find very few redeeming values in this ultimately sexist tale.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Leanne Weston: “Good Girl, Bad Luck: Morality and Performance in Georgy Girl”, Powerhouse Films Ltd promotional booklet, 2018, pp 5-13

Howard Maxford: “Making Georgy Girl”, Powerhouse Films Ltd promotional booklet, 2018, p 28

Source: Review: “Georgy Girl” Is No Feminist Statement