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MARTIN PARR’S BLACK COUNTRY STORIES

Martin Parr’s Black Country Stories DVDAs part of his Black Country project for Multistory, photographer Martin Parr made four exceptional documentary films, which can be seen at his exhibition and are now available on this compilation DVD. In Turkey & Tinsel, we travel with JR Holyhead, a family-run, Willenhall-based, coach holiday company, on a November trip to the Midland Hotel in Weston super Mare, to celebrate Christmas with a hilarious group of Black Country pensioners determined to have a good time. In Tudor Crystal, based in Stourbridge, we see the last traditional multi-furnace company producing 30% lead crystal within a traditional glassmaking cone. Mark Goes to Mongolia follows pigeon breeder and auctioneer Mark Evans from Moxley on his adventurous trips to China and Inner Mongolia to sell his Black Country pigeons. Teddy Gray’s Sweet Factory tells the story of Edward Gray and Betty Guest, brother and sister proprietors of the Dudley-based traditional sweet making factory, famous for their Black Country herbal tablets. All the films are warmly sympathetic, beautully photographed and engaging, revealing the true spirit and optimism of Black Country people. The DVD, available from Multistory, also includes a specially commissioned interview with Martin Parr. Three of the films can also be bought individually.

MADE IN WOLVERHAMPTON

Made in WolverhamptonAdam Kossoff is an artist, film-maker and writer whose work, both gallery-based and single screen, addresses the relationship of the moving image to differing spatial and technological contexts. He teaches at the School of Art and Design, University of Wolverhampton, and his most recent film is this fascinating documentary essay, Made in Wolverhampton. It’s the third in Adam Kossoff’s trilogy of films based on Walter Benjamin’s writing and takes an essayistic form as it explores the melancholic identity and the changing nature of space in an English post-industrial city. Based on the discoveries of the city flâneur, the film uncovers the ‘horizontal history’ of the urban environment. The laconic commentary, narrated by Sean Foley, is addressed to a girlfriend in Cuba and the connections discovered between Wolverhampton and Havana are among the many unexpected delights of the film. The camera explores after-images of the industrial revolution and finds ghosts everywhere - Jack Hawkins filming Man in the Sky at Pendeford, T E Lawrence talkng motorbikes in the Posada, Oscar Rejlander, the father of photography, and Józef Stawinoga making his home on the ring road. Made In Wolverhampton is a unique meditation that is often pensive, with haunting images of disused factories and the abandoned Springfield Brewery, and sometimes wryly funny. The film reflects the warmth, humour and industriousness of the city and is ultimately a celebration of its famously friendly people. Adam Kossoff helps us see the beauty and poetry in a place that has known better times but still has much to be proud of. Made In Wolverhampton was nominated for the Time Out Best City film in 2012 and is available on DVD here  Adam’s website is adamkossoff.co.uk  Highly recommended.

A STORY OF CRADLEY HEATH - BLOOMER & SMITH     H-ARTS

A Story Of Cradley HeathThis excellent documentary celebrates the small forgotten Black Country town of Cradley Heath. Warren Smith began to film the town in 2006, concentrating on the changing landscape, especially old shops, housing, historical buildings, community buildings, pubs and greenland that were being destroyed to make way for a new by-pass and giant Tesco supermarket. He contacted his friend Harry Bloomer to help and inspired by the work of Philip Donnellan they began the ambitious task of video documenting the lives and thoughts of the Cradley Heath people. Hundreds of residents took part in the film. including Beatrice Richards, born in 1898, who sadly passed away during the latter stages of production. Directed, photographed and brilliantly edited by Harry Bloomer and Warren Smith, the documentary tells the story of Cradley Heath by means of historic photographs and film, contemporary footage, evocative artwork, music and, above all, the bostin folk of Cradley Heath. It’s their testimony that makes the film so special as they share their invariably shrewd opinions and often poignant memories. The documentary also immortalises the town’s old buildings, such as pubs, churches and cinemas, many of which have been lost. The resulting film, like the town’s residents, is warm-hearted, funny and totally engaging. In addition to the documentary, this two-hour DVD also includes ten short films dealing with subjects as varied as unicycling, Christmas and ‘walking the ways’.

GLENN HUGHES - LIVE IN WOLVERHAMPTON     EARMUSIC

Glenn Hughes - LiveThe Voice of Rock examines his own back pages on this historic in-concert recording. Over two nights, June 6th & 7th 2009, Glenn Hughes enthralled hometown audiences with his unique brand of rock-funk when he packed out The Robin 2 Hotel in Bilston, Wolverhampton. The first night, billed as ‘Glenn Hughes with his Full Band’ saw him performing music from his glory days with Deep Purple in 1973 on to 2009. Songs including ‘Muscle & Blood’ (from the album Hughes/Thrall), ‘You Got Soul’ (from Music for the Divine), ‘Don’t Let Me Bleed’ (from Soul Mover) and ‘Crave’ (from First Underground Nuclear Kitchen) Hughes has rarely performed in the UK before. The second night, billed as ‘You Are the Music’: An Evening of Trapeze’ saw Hughes performing a full Trapeze set for the first time as a solo performer. Dedicated to the memory of his friend and former Trapeze guitarist Mel Galley, who passed away in July 2008, Hughes delivered emotionally charged versions of songs taken from the albums Medusa (‘Touch My Life’, ‘Black Cloud’, ‘Medusa’) and You Are the Music... We’re Just the Band (‘Way Back to the Bone’, ‘Coast to Coast’, ‘You Are the Music’). The music is often heavy, sometimes graceful and never less than riveting. Glenn’s soulful, distinctive voice is superlative throughout, pleading, powerful and always from the heart. Beautifully presented with superb sound quality, this DVD is a must for the Glenn Hughes aficionado and fans of classic rock. Bonus features include a visit The Molineux Stadium and an interview with Trapeze Manager, Tony Perry.

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