Save The Cinema Museum fundraiser: SPARKLE 16mm [28 OCT 15:00]

With several independent venues under threat across London, RADIANT CIRCUS is proud to be supporting the campaign to Save The Cinema Museum. We talk to The Celluloid Sorceress, Rebecca Nicole Williams, about her SPARKLE fundraiser with Samira Ahmed [28 OCT 15:00].

SPARKLE (1976): A Save The Cinema Museum Fundraiser presented by the Celluloid Sorceress (28 OCT).
SPARKLE (1976): A Save The Cinema Museum Fundraiser presented by The Celluloid Sorceress (28 OCT).

> Scroll down for our exclusive RADIANT CIRCUS discount code…


[RADIANT CIRCUS]:
Why is SPARKLE such a special film in Joel Schumacher’s cannon?

[CELLULOID SORCERESS]:
Schumacher came into the film business later in his life after beating drug addiction. Starting as a costume designer, but with ambition to direct he wrote SPARKLE as his first script as that was a way to get a picture. Schumacher wrote about what he knew, experiences he had at the Apollo Theatre in New York and as a fan of Motown and its artists, and Warner Bros bought the script thinking it would turn out as Blaxploitation musical. When director Sam O’Steen (long term editor for Mike Nichols) turned in a serious drama with fantastic musical numbers featuring a great cast and exciting performances it didn’t meet WB’s expectations and it was barely promoted, coming out in a handful of theatres two days before ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN.

[RC]:
SPARKLE was remade in 2012 with a – slightly? – more positive critical response. Why is it time to revisit the original?

[CS]:
The remake isn’t too highly thought of in purist circles, but it is a solid legacy and notably it was a life goal of Whitney Houston to bring the story out calling the original her favourite film. SPARKLE came years before the stage musical Dreamgirls and it’s also poignant that we’re doing this while the new incarnation of A STAR IS BORN is so hugely popular. It’s a great movie, and the history of that particular franchise is a great topic to delve into. It’s also notable that SPARKLE was released the year of Streisand and Kristofferson, and look at what a huge hit that was while SPARKLE was left to find it’s way to the African-American audience via TV and VHS where it took hold as an immensely significant Hollywood representation of their community and history.

[RC]:
SPARKLE is curiously overlooked in the history of movie musicals but with music by Curtis Mayfield, it has quite a pedigree… And that’s before we get to the soundtrack album recorded by Aretha Franklin…

[CS]:
The album was a huge hit. It sold millions of copies and there’s some great footage of Aretha performing some of the songs in old TV appearances. I’ve been looking into the production and why the original artists were replaced. Lonette McKee, Irene Cara and Dwan Smith all give really exciting performances that are very highly regarded. I’ve found some interview clips from some of the key people that I’m going to look at with our guest, acclaimed journalist and broadcaster Samira Ahmed and have a discussion around this history before the film with a little of the Queen of Soul, naturally.

[RC]:
You’ve found a rare 16mm print of the film. What are the challenges in sourcing original formats for screenings like this?

[CS]:
They just don’t exist. Something like SPARKLE would have probably had around a dozen 35mm prints made for release, all of which would be on old film stock prone to fade (our print has some colour fade, but looks good and sounds great). I haven’t been able to find out if SPARKLE had a life in theatres post release, but it didn’t come to the UK, and even though it is available on home entertainment it Is very special to be showing it at the Cinema Museum in this way.

[RC]:
The event is a Save The Cinema Museum fundraiser. With so many independent venues under threat across London, what do we risk losing?

[CS]:
Things like this. So please show up. I don’t know what else to say. I’m working with way too many venues, classic venues, venues with immense cultural value and architectural significance that seem to under threat of either losing immensely valuable equipment or closing down completely. It is hard work for curators who do work to find films this rare and of this significance to people and when they do we must support them.

Cinema has changed so much in my lifetime and I’m only in my 40s and it’s not that anyone opposes change but if this keeps happening, how are the future generations to know where they come from? I’d be lost without the Duke’s or Pictureville or the Phoenix or the Museum, which is about the only place we could do a show like this.

[RC]:
What can be done to turn the tide…?

[CS]:
Come along, please do. We’re really excited and it looks like it’s going to be popular which is exactly what it’s all about, and I’m so pleased. I came at it in the context of Joel Schumacher, but understand the strange role he played in transferring African-American cinema into the mainstream, but to screen it in aid of the museum during Black History Month is just a privilege. And support these venues. Remind the world they sparkle.


> Scroll down for our exclusive RADIANT CIRCUS discount code…


SPARKLE (1976): A Save The Cinema Museum Fundraiser presented by the Celluloid Sorceress (28 OCT).
SPARKLE (1976): A Save The Cinema Museum Fundraiser presented by The Celluloid Sorceress (28 OCT).

Exclusive RADIANT CIRCUS discount code for SPARKLE (1976) – 16mm presentation + Samira Ahmed in conversation with The Celluloid Sorceress [28 OCT 15:00].

  • Enter the voucher code “sparkle” when prompted at the box office.
  • Save money on both Full Price and Concessionary tickets.
  • Numbers are limited. Venue T&Cs apply.

Join the hunt for adventurous moving pictures.

SIGN UP to our free eNEWS for regular updates about London’s indie cinema scene.

SUBSCRIBE to get our unique SCREEN GUIDE listings delivered directly to your inbox – plus other great rewards! – with a low-cost RADIANT CIRCUS monthly membership.

FOLLOW US on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram for daily updates.

#shelterfromthestorm


Featured image: SPARKLE (1976).

Radiant Circus