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Sundance: Swinton remembers Jarman


Tilda Swinton came to fame as the icon of the visionary cinema of Derek Jarman, the British filmmaker who directed her in seven films before succumbing to AIDS in 1994.

In recent years, almost despite herself, the scottish actress has become sought after by Hollywood. She recently starred in Disney’s The Chronicles of Narnia and in Michael Clayton, picking up an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the latter.

But Jarman has never ceased to be prominent in her thoughts. As homage to him, she wrote and produced Derek, directed by UK filmmaker Isaac Julien, who also narrates the film.

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The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, where Andrew Herwitz’s The Film Sales Company has acquired US distribution as well as world sales rights (with the exception of the UK). In the upcoming weeks, Derek – made with funding from Film London, Channel 4, MoMA and the Sundance Documentary Fund – will also screen at the Berlinale.

The documentary interweaves Swinton’s voice (reading "Letter to an Angel," written in memory of Jarman in 2002) with a never before seen interview with the director of Jubilee and Caravaggio, excerpts of his films, music videos, home movies and archive images found by Julien.

The screening of Derek at Sundance inaugurates a series of events dedicated to the filmmaker. Opening on January 23 at London’s Serpentine Gallery is The Jarman Exhibition, a show that brings together paintings, Super 8 films, an installation of Blue and works by curator Julien. With Film London and More4, the Serpentine Gallery is launching the Jarman Award, a £20,000 award for independent filmmakers.

“Derek lived and worked outside all industrial models. This in and of itself is something powerful we should look to but now, when filmmakers are constantly told what they should or should not do according to rules dictated by the market, it reminds us of a possibility that we might have forgotten,” said Swinton.

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