Saturday 28 May, 12pm – Sunday 29 May, 12pm
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the BBC’s arts documentary strand Arena, the programme’s Series Editor Anthony Wall and Film Editor Emma Matthews have created Night and Day – The Arena Time Machine, a 24-hour audio-visual experience evoking a day in the life of the planet in early summer. Drawn exclusively from Arena’s archive of over 600 films, Night and Day is edited to link the time in the film to the time in the location of the screening – if it’s dawn on the screen, it’s dawn outside the gallery.
“To begin at the beginning…” recites Dylan Thomas, as the darkest hour gives way to dawn over Laugharne, the Welsh fishing village of Under Milk Wood. The sun rises on Mandela’s Robben Island, Van Morrison’s Ulster, Eric Sykes’s London, Sonny Rollins’s New York, Bluefields Nicaragua, the Mali desert and the Iron Curtain; scenes all drawn from Arena films.
The day progresses through work and school, to Lady Naipaul preparing lunch, in parallel with the Rasta community of Bull Bay, Jamaica; and Anita Ekberg who muses over the most beautiful women in cinema, as she seasons the chicken. In Mexico City, Buñuel gives his recipe for the perfect dry Martini; in Montserrat, George Martin gives his. Burroughs and Warhol enjoy Lapin au Moutarde in the Chelsea Hotel; Galton and Simpson take us to their favourite restaurant in Twickenham; Elvis’s relatives catch squirrels in Mississippi; and rock star Cui Jian, whose songs were the anthems of the students in Tiananmen Square, sits at the table with his family in Beijing.
And so the day goes on through the afternoon, to the strange and beautiful hour of the gloaming; to dinner and the attractions of the night through the dreams of George Wendt’s latter day Oblomov, Edna Everage, Ionesco, Roy Plomley, Jean Genet and David Bowie; before returning to the darkest hour just before dawn and Dylan Thomas. The film will be available to stream on laptops, mobiles and tablets via Carroll / Fletcher Onscreen. It will also be simultaneously screened at Carroll / Fletcher’s Eastcastle Street gallery, where visitors are welcome to stay for the whole duration, to drop in, or to keep popping back at different times of the day or night.
Since it was first broadcast in October 1975, BBC TV’s Arena has produced over 600 films, won 9 BAFTA Awards and 25 BAFTA nominations, 6 Royal Television Society Awards, 6 Broadcasting Press Guild Awards, the Prix Italia, a Grammy, Primetime and International Emmys, a Peabody Award and the special medallion at Telluride in 2000. Arena is the world’s longest-running arts documentary strand. The programme is distinguished by an unbroken editorial and aesthetic sensibility, from Leslie Megahey (1977- 79) to Alan Yentob (1979-1985), Nigel Finch and Anthony Wall (1985 until Finch’s death in 1995) and Wall’s sole editorship to the present day. From the first edition in 1975, which featured Laurence Olivier discussing the remarkable life of Lilian Baylis (the founder of the National Theatre) and David Hockney painting sets for the Stravinsky opera The Rake’s Progress at Glyndebourne, Arena has never failed to attract the great names of art, cinema, music, literature and academia. Versions of Night and Day – The Arena Time Machine have been screened at: Telluride Film Festival, USA, 2015; Cambridge Film Festival, UK, 2015; Cambridge Festival of Ideas, UK, 2015; Brighton Film Festival, UK, 2015; Dingle Film Festival, Ireland, 2016; New York University, USA, 2016.
Film Credits: Directors ANTHONY WALL, EMMA MATTHEWS; Film Editor EMMA MATTHEWS; Production Manager CAROLINE SUTTON; Online Producer ALEX JONES; Technical Consultant ANDY ARMSTRONG; Research and Additional Editing ISOBEL GOODRICH; Archive Producer ANDREW WRIGHT; Screening coordinator ROSY RICKETT; Arena Series Editor ANTHONY WALL