Filmmaker Matthew Mishory on Derek Jarman

Derek Jarman’s Sketchbooks
February 7, 2014
Trash in the UK: A review of I. Q. Hunter’s British Trash Cinema
May 30, 2014
By James Marcus Tucker
LA based Filmmaker Matthew Mishory has written for One+One in the past (see issue 5 here) and his film Delphinium: A Childhood Portrait of Derek Jarman has recently been released by the BFI. As Jarman2014 celebrations continue, I spoke to Matthew to get an quick glimpse into his motivation for making the film.

10008535_10103033182619547_1040498673_n

James Marcus Tucker: How did you discover Derek Jarman?
Matthew Mishory: First as a high school student. Fascinated by first wave punk rock, I found Jubilee on an out-of-print VHS tape. I really grew to appreciate his work as a radical visual stylist and queer artist in film school, where I studied theory and found myself drawn to Derek’s smaller, personal films (The Garden, The Last of England, Blue) and their experiments with form and construction.
JMT: What makes his work so special for you?
MM: In Derek’s work, form and function were one. His films were so personal — and inherently political. But he found his dissident voice by exploring new formal possibilities. For me, he is the most significant and influential British filmmaker of that era.
JMT: Tell me about your film that is being re-issued by the BFI? Why did you want to make it?
MM: It is a semi-narrative, semi-experimental filmed poem that tries to find in Derek’s childhood the antecedents of his remarkable life and work. Keith Collins was generous enough to make a special appearance in the film, and portions of it were shot at Prospect Cottage in Dungeness on Super 8. Like all of my films, it was intensely personal. I had always really cared about Derek’s work, and after reading his journals and the Tony Peak biography, I saw the potential for a lyrical film treatment of his early years. It was not an easy film to get made. Every film has its heroes, and, ultimately, we were able to make this one because our executive producer, Andreas Andrea, really believed in and championed the project. Needless to say, we are all thrilled it now has found a permanent home at the BFI.
JMT: How has the landscape changed in LGBT cinema since Derek Jarman died?
MM: Not necessarily for the better. “LGBT cinema” as it has since been constructed (lame romantic comedies, the same regurgitated “coming out” fantasies) does not interest me very much. But lately, I am hopeful. The most intriguing film I have seen in the past year (Stranger by the Lake), happens to have a queer (or post-queer) context.
For more info on Matthew, you can visit his website at www.matthewmishory.com