An Attic Full of Puppets [United Kingdom]
SÃO LUIZ TEATRO MUNICIPAL – Jardim de Inverno
11 May at 9.30pm (Sunday)
Documentary, 45m, 2013 Language: English Produced and directed by: Richard Butchins The voice of Frank Mumford as young man: Robert Styles Camera: Luke Thomas Douglas, Sophie Somerville, Richard Butchins Film editor: Marion Popescu Online and grade: Malcolm Ellison Production assistants: Joseph Butchinsky, Lynn Morris Music performers: Cate Warren (accordian) Krisztina Kiss (viola) Stephanie Trust (piano) Sound recordist: Matt Lewis Puppetry consultant: Darryl Worby Executive producers: Richard Loyd, Rosa Hoskins, Gaia Hannan Film transfers: TK One DVD and duplication: TC Soho Archive film: Pathe, INA France, Puppet Productions
After the screening there will be a conversation with the director Richard Butchins.
A documentary about marionettes and memory, melancholy and mirth. The story of a magical puppet master with 95 years old who played to the crowned heads of Europe.
Frank Mumford is 95 years old he's lived in a tiny flat in London's Notting Hill Gate since 1946 surrounded by the memorabilia of a life well lived. He's special, not only because of his strong independent lifestyle, living alone as he approaches 100, but also because Frank and his late wife, Maisie, created one of the most glamorous Marionette variety acts to ever grace the stage.
In the late 1940's and 1950's they played prestige venues all over Europe, including the Moulin Rouge, Paris, London's Savoy Hotel, and the Sporting Club, Monte Carlo. He performed for the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Prince Rainer of Monaco, was given a gold cigarette case by General Franco, dined with Jean Cocteau and joked with Josephine Baker.
This remarkable documentary tells Frank's story. The past, present and future, it's a tale of princes and puppets, bitter rivalries and betrayal, of joy and tragedy.
"One dark day last January, I met 94 year old Frank Mumford, I'd been invited to his birthday party by a mutual friend. In the course of conversation it turns out that Frank has a cupboard full of old cans of film - "Oh I used to be in showbusiness a bit " says Frank. The old film cans contained film of Franks BBC TV childrens puppet work from the 1960's, home movie shot in Cannes and London from the 50's and cinema and TV adverts from the 60's. As a Documentary maker I knew I had to make this film."
- Richard Butchins
Frank's tells his story through the fantastic archive film and photographs that has been sitting in a cupboard in his small flat for over 50 years. What about the puppets? They were taken out of the attic, where they have sat boxed and untended for 20 years. This film is about a wonderful artist who belongs to a lost generation of performers from the time before TV took over the world.
Franks archive of film and photo's is a remarkable record of a bygone era and art form of which he was (and is) one of the foremost exponents. We also find out that in the World War II he was prisoner of war… This film has another purpose to remind people that the elderly, so often portrayed as a burden on society, are actually a valuable resource.
“Frank makes you forget you are watching a doll on strings. Even today, on the rare occasions he manipulates one of his beautiful puppets, the result is instant. He breathes life into the object in a second.”
- Richard Butchins
"I built Zizi in 1947. She was modelled on photographs of Lana Turner and Gypsy Rose Lee. At 26 inches tall, Zizi proved to be an instant hit with the audience. The Watch Committee banned her in the 1950s when we played Birmingham Hippodrome - for kissing male members of the audience - making instant news headlines and greatly increasing our revenue and profit that year!"
- Frank Mumford
Richard Butchins is a UK journalist, photographer and filmmaker. His first novel, “Pavement”, will be published soon by Cutting Edge Press.
Richard contracted polio as a child leaving him partially paralysed. He has always had a thing for the visual, winning painting competitions at the age of 6. He went on to Study Art in London and then fell onto the streets. Living in Paris as a street performer and wandering around random European cities he eventually found himself working back in London in the music industry but soon tired of it as "it was without any narrative". He became a freelance still photographer covering the conflicts in the Middle East and Northern Ireland and worked for The Observer, Sunday Times and the Guardian amongst others. Eventually he found himself in the UK television industry making and developing documentaries and working as an investigative filmmaker. He lives in London and does not have a cat.
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