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Will Sergeant of Echo and the Bunnymen to visit Bluecoat for film event

In the early 1980s, art students, New Romantics and members of the post-punk scene used inexpensive, domestic technology to find new modes of expression and subvert mainstream media. Independent VHS tapes were released, stridently bypassing censorship, and Super 8 film was embraced as a cheap yet distinctly lyrical and direct medium. The DIY approach of punk was powerfully reignited. 

This upcoming bank holiday weekend, Bluecoat will be screening a major new programme of films, exemplifying the underground film-making of the post-punk era. Featuring artists’ films and pop videos from 1978 – 85, This is Now: Film and Video After Punk celebrates the diversity of these independent videos created in the 1980s in the UK. 

Will Sergeant, of Echo and the Bunnymen, will be in conversation with Bluecoat's artistic director Bryan Biggs on Monday 2 May following the screening of Video Killed the Radio Star. They will be discussing the raw, homemade brand of films produced during the era.

This major touring film project is curated by William Fowler from BFI National Archive.  Talking about the newly restored footage, he said “The Echo and the Bunnymen film ‘Shine So Hard’ was an important, unusual, quietly ground-breaking VHS tape released long ago, back in 1981.  It presents stunning live footage of the band from a powerhouse gig in Buxton plus a playful, experimental build-up; all shot by the internationally-regarded artist filmmaker, John Smith.
"The film has been restored, looking more splendid than ever, and this event at the Bluecoat will present a rare chance to hear about the background to the piece - and about VHS culture and the importance of film and visuals to music in the early ‘80s - from key Echo and the Bunnymen member and guitarist, Will Sergeant.” 

Bryan Biggs said, “The words ‘Shine So Hard’ seem to sum the band up: crystalline and menacing at the same time. The film of that title was made the year that MTV was launched, yet it epitomises a very different visual sensibility to much of the synthetic pop that came to dominate as the decade progressed.  That coming together of adventurous music, experimental approaches to filmmaking, including early sampling from TV, and political engagement, is represented in this exciting programme. I am looking forward to seeing the films and discussing the era with Will.”

Shine So Hard’ will be screened during the ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’ film event, starting at 5.30pm on Mon 2 May. This event includes Will Sergeant in conversation with Bryan Biggs, from 6.15pm. You can see the other films screening as part of This is Now here, and book your place.

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