A RABBIT’S FOOT — POWER OF FILM was designed to showcase the best that cinema has to offer, and the power of film to inspire, educate, and, at it’s best, make a palpable difference in the world — with a lineup like Ken Loach, Josie Rourke, Asif Kapadia, and Nick Broomfield, it sometimes felt like an effortless task. What came as a surprise, though, was how vast the style of conversations spread throughout the two days of masterclasses at the Royal Institute Mayfair, how many different crevices of cinema were explored, and the sense of community brought on organically as a result, with an audience turnout ranging from enthusiastic film students to industry insiders to passionate cinephiles. The crowd varied, but the commonality between them was unifying: a shared love for the moving image.

Nick Broomfield
Charles Finch and Nick Broomfield | Photo by Phillip Volkers

The first day kicked off with the most charismatic man on the West End, Matthew Modine, talking to journalist Jason Solomons about his varied career, including his experience working with Stanley Kubrick on Full Metal Jacket, his recent stint on Stranger Things as the shady (but, as Modine pointed out, innately human) Papa, and his current run as Atticus Finch in the Gielgud Theatre’s refreshing take on Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. On Stanley, he spoke about a misconception some have with the auteur’s quick temper and gruelling work practises. “This reputation of Stanley Kubrick being a monster, or being horrible — If he knew what Charles Finch was capable of and Charles Finch didn’t give him 100% of what he was capable of, that’s when he would get angry. But if you showed up and you were prepared and full on and ready to give your all, he would never be horrible. That’s all he expected from anybody, just do the best you can.”

Matthew Modine
Jason Solomons and Matthew Modine | Photo by Phillip Volkers
Matthew Modine
Matthew Modine | Photo by Phillip Volkers
Matthew Modine | Photo by Phillip Volkers

The conversation was insightful and Modine was on top form — cracking wise with both moderator and audience with an earnestness to connect with seemingly every person in the room. Next, acclaimed choreographer Akram Khan and filmmaker Asif Kapadia (Amy) discussed their ‘genre-busting’ new collaboration, Creature. Their hour on stage carried less energy than Modine’s, though the same intimacy shined through and lingered in the air, as the two waxed lyrical about film, dance, and the hybrid of the two, with Khan especially inviting the audience into the spiritual with some thoughtful words on film as human ritual. “With the cinema, it’s very much like theatre…I’m always trying to go back to the origins of “what is the original purpose of going to see a film”? It’s not just about the film that you’re watching. It’s like going to a temple. Why do people go to a temple? Originally, it wasn’t to pray to God, it was to awaken the five senses. This is the last human ritual. I used to think it was eating together. But my Iphone’s in the way, the kids’ Ipads are in the way. We are not in the present together when we eat together anymore. That ritual is gone. The last human ritual we have left is the awakening of the five senses of going somewhere.”

Asif Kapadia
Asif Kapadia and Akram Khan | Photo by Phillip Volkers

Each conversation followed its own unique thread — one of the world’s great humanist directors Ken Loach (who, after being offered a car to the venue, of course, chose instead to walk) discussed the politics and filmmaking, in a conversation with Jason Solomons that stressed, like his films often do, the importance of empathy and generosity between people. When Solomons brought up Matthew Modine’s experience with authoritarian directors Kubrick and Alan Parker, his views fell far from the Full Metal Jacket star’s own; “I can’t understand it. When do you do your best? When you’re confident. When you know that you can try anything and you’ll be fine. You know you won’t be made a fool of, you won’t be held up in front of anybody. It’s a confident and creative energy. And then you can do anything. Because nobody is going to shame you. You’ll let go and be vulnerable, and if an actor isn’t vulnerable, then you’ve lost it, you’ve lost something. I’ve never understood this idea that the director is some imperious person who shouts at people…I can’t think of anything worse. People won’t work with you if you’re like that, not with joy. And the thing is, as a director you’ll have more cock-ups than anyone else!” 

Ken Loach A Rabbits foot
Jason Solomons and Ken Loach | Photo by Phillip Volkers
Ken Loach Edgar Wright
Edgar Wright and Ken Loach | Photo by Phillip Volkers
baby driver 2
Chris Cotonou and Edgar Wright | Photo by Phillip Volkers
Josie rourke
Sara-Ella Ozbek and Josie Rourke | Photo by Phillip Volkers

Filmmakers Edgar Wright (Baby Driver, Last Night in Soho, Hot Fuzz) and Josie Rourke followed, with Wright in conversation with A Rabbit’s Foot deputy editor Chris Cotonou (and all but confirm a Baby Driver sequel) and Rourke with writer Sara-Ella Ozbek, before the audience shuffled to Curzon Mayfair for a packed screening of the James Dean classic Rebel Without A Cause.

Day two shifted traditional conversation into masterclasses, with some of the most influential minds in film discussing their process to students eager to create their own cinematic worlds. A Rabbit’s Foot editor-in-chief Charles Finch spoke with revolutionary documentary filmmaker (and best friend) Nick Broomfield (Biggie & Tupac, The Leader, Marianne and Leonard), Sara-Ella Ozbek returned to talk to director- screenwriter Christopher Hampton (Dangerous Liaisons, The Father, Secret Agent, Atonement) and acclaimed costume designer Sandy Powell (The Favourite, The Irishman) closed the day with radio host and podcaster Edith Bowman to talk colours, creativity, and Martin Scorsese. “He sees every single costume.” She said, “and every time somebody comes on set wearing a new costume, he goes up to them and he does this really strange thing…he touches them. He always touches the fabric. He’s actually really into clothes.” A man of taste — was it ever in doubt?

Sandy Powell A rabbits foot
Edith Bowman and Sandy Powell | Photo by Phillip Volkers

After months of tireless organising by the entire A Rabbit’s Foot team, Giorgio Armani, Finch & Partners, Minky Productions, the Royal Institute, and countless other individuals who brought the POWER OF FILM alive for a few days, the two-day masterclass closed with a renewed sense of appreciation for what film can accomplish, and who it can bring together. If you want a taste of what the event was like, check out our shop page to buy our POWER OF FILM-themed third issue, subscribe to our newsletter, and stay tuned — the celebration has just begun.