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Fascinating documentaries on artists, writers, dancers, musicians and more
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SKY ARTS is proud to support New Zealand Arts, so look out for more home grown arts programmes made by local artists and filmmakers.
SECONDO ME follows three cloakroom attendants at three European opera houses: Vienna State Opera, La Scala in Milan and Odessa Opera House. The film reverses the natural order of things, relegating the opera houses and operatic performances to the background, and bringing the ancillary staff to the fore. SECONDO ME is about the drama that can be found in the day-to-day lives of ordinary people, in their beliefs, emotions and concerns, and in their approach to the passage of time.
1953 and 'Waiting for Godot' has just been published. Samuel Beckett is living in a rural cottage 40 miles outside Paris. The cottage requires some renovation but there is a problem. Beckett's Bulgarian builder Roussimoff can't start work 'til late in the morning as his son Andre requires a lift to school. Reason being Andre is way too big to fit on the school bus (where the other children mock and tease him for his size). Beckett offers to run the boy to school and in so doing teaches him about love, life, poetry and how to survive in a world of cruelty. Andre went on to become the world famous (and very confident) wrestler and movie star Andre the Giant.
Talking about architecture with Alvaro Siza Vieira, recipient of the Prizker Prize and one of this century’s finest architects, as well as socialist and passionate smoker. The film spotlights his early work and allows the viewer to gain insight in Siza’s way of working and thinking.
As a young man, Carlos Saura, the legendary Spanish filmmaker, did not quite know what he would like to become: motorcycle racer, flamenco dancer or photographer? 60 years, 40 films and numerous film awards later, his passion for photography runs like a thread through his life.
The publishers Gerhard Steidl and Hans Meinke set out to release the largely unknown photo oeuvre of Carlos Saura in form of a book. They discover an early phase in Saura’s photography revealing Spain of the Fifties in a new light: impressive black-and-white images of landscapes, villages, culture and the people of that time beyond the Franco propaganda. The documentary shows how this photo book evolves and simply follows "real characters" at work.
Following on from the popular The Art of… strand, The Art of France reads the nation’s history and character in its sculptures, paintings and palaces. From the art of absolute power in the 18th century through to the modern philosophies bound up in impressionism, art and history are merged to enlightening effect.
Presenter Andrew Graham-Dixon unlocks the connection between the unification of France and the art of absolute power (reflected in the Palace of the Versailles) and the cult of personality and the French Revolution. The series concludes with impressionism (Picasso, Corbusier, Sartre), an artistic movement which emerged at a time when France was struggling to decide which way to turn.
During the filming of Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest, Cary Grant had become fascinated - yet cautious about LSD. He believed that is was the elixir of life yet should be taken in moderation. Timothy Leary had a similar journalistic fascination with the drug and wanted to explore Grant's affection for it. This film takes place in Grant's trailer. Leary invites himself along during a break in filming and he and Grant inadvertently consume a heroic dose.
Konstantin Grcic is considered one of the most innovative and profound product designers worldwide. His career began with a chair and a lamp, both of which are on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
DESIGN IS WORK accompanies the designer for the duration of a year in the various segments of his working world: while designing in the studio with his team or deliberating over the right decision with a client; among the tumult of “Salone” (furniture fair, Milan) or during the planning of an exhibition for the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich. Here, with the aid of design models, the developmental process behind one of his most prominent pieces, "Chair_One" becomes tangible – from the initial sketches to the finished product.
In the film, these steps are lucidly illustrated by Grcic’s current project: a furniture series made of cast iron, conceived and developed with the long-established Italian design company “Magis” and its dynamic founder Eugenio Perazza. It becomes apparent that design involves a tremendous amount of work – but also considerably more.
Art world sensation Ai Weiwei credits him with launching his international career. Renowned pianist Lang Lang describes him as a mentor to Chinese artists. Chinese art curator Victoria Lu says his influence has been felt around the world. But when Swiss businessman Uli Sigg first went to China, art was far from his mind.
It was 1979, and Sigg was negotiating one of the first joint ventures between the Chinese government Western company on behalf Schindler, a firm that made escalator and elevators. But when he wanted to better understand Chinese culture and the changes it was undergoing, he sought out contemporary artists—changing his life, theirs, and the international art scene in the process.
The Chinese Lives of Uli Sigg is a history of China’s opening to the West, and of the West’s embrace of Chinese contemporary art, through the eyes of Sigg and the dazzling array of contemporary Chinese artists whose work he he championed. Artists including Ai Weiwei, Cao Chong’en, Cao Fei, Gang Lijun, Feng Mengbo, Shao Fan, Wang Guangyi and Zeng Fanzhi are interviewed along with curators, diplomats, architects and business colleagues in this colorful documentary survey of contemporary Chinese art.
Loved by musicians and critics alike, Later With Jools Holland is the longest running music television programme on the BBC and shows no signs of stopping. Here, stadium fillers, current chart toppers, veterans and left-field artists from all music genres perform together in the same studio.
This collection explores history of art in a totally new way. Each film is a journey, an investigation and an adventure. The painting comes to life, as animation overrides the limits of the frame, taking us to the heart of the canvass and plunging us into its era and history.
The great works of the past portray abundant testimonies, and are imbued with secrets and are teeming with mysteries. Beneath the surface of the painting, details awaken, to recount the spirit of the times and the vagaries of History, such as wars, revolutions, economic transformation, scientific discovery, beliefs and schools of thought.
In 2016, internationally renowned artist William Kentridge presented “Triumphs and Laments”, his colossal tribute to the history of Rome. A 550 meters long frieze on the Tiber banks, portraying the glories and the tragedies of the Eternal City, from the birth of the Eternal City to Pasolini’s murder, from Bernini to Dolce Vita and the refugee crisis.
The most majestic artwork to take place in Rome since the painting of the Sistine Chapel disappeared within a few short months. This film, shot with exclusive access over two years, is its only memory.
1981 Los Angeles. Muhammad Ali has recently lost a high profile fight versus Larry Holmes which signalled the end of the champ's career. Down and disheartened he is in his office with Don King amongst his advisors when his attention is caught by the backlog of traffic. Turns out that a man is teetering on the ledge of a tower block ready to take his life. Ali takes it upon himself to head to the scene of the potential tragedy and persuade the man, using his wit and wisdom and a few jokes along the way and persuades the suicidal man that life is worth living.
Hosted by comedian David Walliams, this glittering evening of music and entertainment celebrates the 80th birthday and the incredible career of music legend Dame Shirley Bassey. Born in a poor area of Cardiff, Wales, in the 1930s, Dame Shirley grew up to become one of the most iconic performers of the past 60 years. She signed her first artist contract at 16, was one of the first UK entertainers to crack America and has performed for presidents and royalty alike.
This film – a mix of entertainment, comedy, candid interviews and performances by Dame Shirley herself – offers viewers an exclusive glimpse into Dame Shirley’s extraordinary life. Performances include Bond classic Goldfinger as well as I Who Have Nothing, The Lady is a Tramp and I Am What I Am.
Five years ago, passionate yet hot-tempered Korean opera singer Jae-Chang Kim, aka Angry Bird, started a children’s choir in Pune, India. He has made significant changes in the lives of the choir children, but their parents do not recognize the benefit and often try to pull their children out of the choir. In order to convince them, Kim decides to train the parents to sing for a joint concert with their children.
The film follows a 15-month-long, sometimes comical journey of Kim and his choir from the first parents’ meeting to the final concert. During this journey, we witness how music empowers people and connects people from different cultures and generations.
Gardens are mirrors of the world. An invitation to discover an art form, they are true testimonies to extraordinary inventiveness. Through breath-taking destinations, this series takes us to meet the people who have transformed pieces of nature and urban wastelands into truly unique and innovative landscape creations.
From the Zhongshan Garden (China) turning reclaimed wasteland into a magnificent green space, to the Inhotim open air museum (Brazil) in the heart of 2,000 hectares of lush forest, via the Garden of Cosmic Speculation (Scotland), the Cranbourne Gardens (Australia), or Al-Azhar Park (Egypt), we go to meet the designers of these spaces, as well as the gardeners, botanists, historians and everyday visitors who enjoy them.
Exploring environment and creativity, come enjoy a unique view of these spaces we thought we knew. Discover new manners of inhabiting the planet combined with a new way of experiencing nature.
Silk, sensuality and seduction continue to flourish in Madrid's luxury haute-couture shop Velvet. But while Spain's wealthiest and most beautiful women continue to be attracted by the sensuality of the store's garments, it's seduction that seems to drive the highly competitive management more than ever…
Alberto, heir to the Velvet fortune, has married a socialite rather than Ana, the love of his life. She, too, is aware that her lowly rank as a seamstress represents a hurdle that she cannot leap over. When the newlyweds return from their honeymoon, Alberto is shocked to learn that his brother-in-law Enrique is now majority shareholder and, thus, the CEO of Velvet.
Ana, in turn, has mixed feelings when Alberto announces that Velvet will bid for the contract to design the uniforms of a Spanish airline. Although she is delighted to be named head designer, she is worried about being too close to Alberto on this project – and to the dashing young pilot Carlos, who falls in love with her. Stolen kisses and jealous outbursts, fortune hunters and back stabbers – this is the second, emotionally explosive season of Velvet.
Ahmad Zakii Anwar wants to paint the nude and other taboos in homeland Malaysia. This thought-provoking film touches on current issues in the Muslim world surrounding artistic expression and religious freedoms, through the personal journey of Malaysia’s most internationally popular artist.
Plunge into Johannes Vermeer’s world and rediscover this enigmatic master. One of the best known yet most mysterious painters of all time, he astonishingly ended up in oblivion. His work, reflecting everyday life in the 17th Century, has gained international recognition, despite only 37 paintings left behind. But who was this man, always portrayed as a solitary, who remained anonymous in his own day?
Discover the world of Vermeer, at times of economic boom and creative frenzy, in a small country that fostered the blossoming of hundreds of artists and thousands of exceptional paintings. This docudrama immerses us into 17th Century blooming Holland to rediscover Vermeer in a unique way. Unveiling the complexity and richness of the artist’s work, it reveals his painful fate, caught in a chaos that would lead him to an anonymous end. A beautiful voyage between present and past to understand how forgotten paintings finally became icons of our civilization.
Masterpieces for sale in the West. Over the past twenty years, Zhao Xiaoyong and his family have produced over 90,000 copies of Vincent van Gogh's paintings. Despite having no formal training in painting before he left his small village in Hunan province, Zhao soon learned how to copy van Gogh’s work to make a living in Dafen. After marrying a migrant girl, the couple started a small studio and raised a family together. Zhao and his family and friends live, work, marry and raise children under the constant gaze of van Goghs. Constrained by repetitive labour, but inspired by van Gogh’s passionate brushwork, Zhao searches for a new means of self-expression.
China’s Van Goghs vividly depicts Zhao’s life as a peasant-painter in Dafen, and the transition he is undergoing to become an original artist. Having never seen van Gogh’s original paintings, Zhao’s biggest dream is to travel to Amsterdam to see the works of his legendary associate. After struggling and saving, he fulfils his dream. In Europe, his encounter with van Gogh’s paintings brings an epiphany. (Zhao is moved by van Gogh’s works, but also confounded when confronted by the affluent lives of the dealers that profit from his labour.) Although dejected at the revelation, Zhao is inspired by van Gogh’s paintings and the hardships he suffered, and resolves to dedicate himself to his own original art, searching for his own authentic voice in order to be true to the spirit of his hero and mentor – Vincent van Gogh.
Dariko, the only local television journalist in a small town in Georgia, strives from one report to the next to provide a pseudo-ethnographical portrait of a community and its traditions. Like Virgil with Dante, she leads director Salome Jashi through the Georgian “circles of hell” in a microscopic tragi-comedy that reveals a country in perpetual transition.
In 2017, it will be a decade since the passing of the man who was probably the greatest and was incontestably the most popular of opera singers in history: the Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti.
Although he is unanimously credited with having democratised opera, making it accessible to the greatest number, focus is rarely put on the strategy he devised and implemented in order to carry out his actions, nor what his actions reveal of the man and artist, and of the resulting metamorphosis from opera singer to pop artist.
Through this angle, PAVAROTTI: BIRTH OF A POP STAR sets out to pay tribute to the man who summed up his credo, obsession and life’s work, in the following way: "They led the public to believe that classical music belonged to a restricted elite. I was the way to prove to the world that was wrong".
One of the world’s most successful performers returns with his orchestra to give audiences a musical extravaganza - combining classical and waltz music. Each episode features one of Andre’s legendary concerts and is combined with exclusive backstage interviews with the star.
From award-winning director Phil Grabsky comes this fresh new look at arguably the world’s favourite artist – through his own words.
Based on over 2500 letters and narrated by Henry Goodman, I, Claude Monet reveals new insight into the man who not only painted the picture that gave birth to impressionism but who was perhaps the most influential and successful painter of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Monet’s life is a gripping tale about a man who, behind his sun-dazzled canvases, suffered from feelings of depression, loneliness, even suicide. However as his art developed and his love of gardening led to the glories of his Giverny garden, his humour, insight and love of life are revealed.
Shot on location throughout Europe at the very spots he painted, I, Claude Monet is a fresh and intimate cinematic exploration of some of the most loved and iconic scenes in western art.
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