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Categories: Interviews

Another one of Sheffield Doc/Fest’s unique events this year was an outdoor screening at Chatsworth House. It was the world premiere of Kim Longinotto’s Love is All: 100 Years of Love and Courtship, scored by Richard Hawley.

Heather Croall, the festival’s director once again got together two great artists to make an incredible film: a voyage of love through the last century in the UK. Made entirely of stock footage from the early 20th century to nowadays, the film depicts relationships and the love that can flourish between people.

We talked to director Kim Longinotto about the film and what it means to her.

“It starts in 1898, I didn’t even know that they had film in 1898, but we got the very first little bit of love on film,” she says.

“Heather suggested it all. I did it because I thought we could make something out of it that felt meaningful. Oh that sounds so pompous! That we could relate to, that’s better.” Kim is very open about her work and her relationship with the project. “It was extraordinary for me to discover these black and white films,” she says.

“What I like about the subject, which is love through the century, was finding archive that was very fresh and that is about love. When we put Richard’s music on it, that was a sort of revelation. It’s really emotional and direct. It has a rather shocking intimacy to it. Putting the music on the footage did something rather strange. You’re looking at footage from a hundred years ago and you feel like that is someone you could have known. 

One of her favourite bits is a film called Hindel Wakes from the 1930s, about a girl who has a weekend fling with a man, but refuses to marry him. This kind of footage was a revelation to Kim because it is so modern and independent.

“We’ve tried to show England in a 100 years, which is an impossible task. Making it about Britain was the first thing we decided to do.” But she and her co-producer Ollie Huddleston still watched hundreds of hours of film, with the help of the BFI. “Then we had to go with what we fell in love with. It’s very personal.”

“We had to narrow it down, and tried to make it fun. It was hard not to want to put in all the stuff that we discovered, because we discovered wonderful, fascinating stuff.”

They found so much footage they deemed important, but they focused on love on Britain’s multicultural society. “I thought what do I love about the UK? What do I want to celebrate as well as love. I wanted to celebrate how multicultural Britain has become,” Kim explains. But any other person would have made a completely different film, and everyone who sees it will take away something different.

One of the most loving moments in the film is from Springtime in an English Village, in which a black girl is voted May Queen, and the teacher kisses her and everyone celebrates this little girl. It was important for Kim to depict these moments in time, and to represent black, Asian and gay people.

“It says very strongly what we feel, but it is more subtle. That’s the challenge of these archive films. But I wouldn’t bother eight weeks on a film unless I felt it had a voice of some sort,” she says, but stresses that it is saying things in a playful, light way. “It’s a very personal film. It’s a celebration of all the things we love about England.”

There is no narration, and hardly any dialogue in the film. The music carries the film nicely, underlining the images on the screen. Kim loved working with Richard Hawley. She is so fond of Richard’s music that she starts singing some lines from the film. “All his suggestions were absolutely brilliant. I think we got the best one. I’d have Richard Hawley any day,” she says.

“One of my favourite lines in the film is a man saying, “Women are made to have children, and that’s why they have broad hips. Men have a muscular build, they are meant to go out and build.”, and then you see a guy in a digger, supposed to be the image of masculinity,” Kim says.

All of these clips turn the film into a narrative that tells a story. Just like she prefers films that tell such a story instead of telling someone what to think, she prefers listening to music that tells a story, rather than straight-up love songs.

Asked about what she thinks the film is, she says, “It’s a film experiment. I thank Heather Croall for the opportunity to do this. I’ve always wanted to do a music film.”

“Hopefully with Love is All, people will watch it and think ‘that character is great’ and relate to them as regular people,” she says. 

Would you do it again? “I would do it again, yes, if the topic was right.” Clearly, Kim Longinotto really enjoyed making Love is All.

The Spread

The Spread is the official magazine of London-based film community Cinema Jam. We cover everything film, from movie and product reviews, features, editorials, news updates, interviews, and more. Follow @CinemaJam on Twitter for more updates!

Posted on Aug 11, 2014

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