Six Day Festival of Amnesty International’s Ground-Breaking Comedy/Rock Benefit Shows – Includes Six World Premieres & One All-Day Marathon Screening!

June 19, 2009

“I saw The Secret Policeman’s Ball and it became a part of me. It sowed a seed.” – Bono

“I think everyone is in for a grave disappointment.” – John Cleese

NEW YORK, June 19 /PRNewswire/ – The Film Society of Lincoln Center is proud to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Amnesty International’s stellar and anarchic comedy and rock extravaganza benefit shows with “The Secret Policeman’s Film Festival.” Beginning on Friday, June 26 through Wednesday, July 1 (Six Days), the Walter Reade Theater will showcase the specials and documentaries that offered up many one-of-a-kind comedy and music performances, including the show that kicked it all off, Pleasure at Her Majesty’s, starring Monty Python. A national event, the festival is also taking place in Los Angeles at the American Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theatre and The Paley Center for Media and will continue in New York (from July 1 to July 31) also at The Paley Center for Media.

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20090619/NY35368 )

Co-created by Monty Python’s John Cleese, June 2009 marks three decades of the first in the pioneering series of benefit shows that brought together the cream of Britain’s comedy (Monty Python, Eleanor Bron, Billy Connolly, Peter Cook, Neil Innes, Dame Edna, Jennifer Saunders, Rowan Atkinson, and many more) with rock acts (U2, Sting, Peter Gabriel, Eric Clapton, Pete Townshend, Phil Collins, Duran Duran, Seal, Donovan, Morrissey, Jeff Beck, David Gilmour, Mark Knopfler, Dave Stewart, Bob Geldof, Kate Bush and Joan Armatrading). In many cases, the appearances were the live solo debuts of musicians — and the solo performances of Townshend, Sting, Collins and Geldof have also been credited with directly inspiring the “Unplugged” phenomenon that followed.

Opening the festival on Friday, June 26 is the U.S. Premiere of Roger Graef and Jonathan Miller’s Pleasure at Her Majesty’s (also on Sat., June 27), a documentary presenting the very first Amnesty benefit show (which established the blueprint for all future shows) starring the timeless comedy of Monty Python, Beyond the Fringe, Eleanor Bron, Neil Innes (The Rutles) and Dame Edna, and featuring very rare rehearsal footage and access to behind-the-scenes, between-the-skits and in-the-dressing-room. Screening with Pleasure at Her Majesty’s, is the original, uncut version of Roger Graef’s The Mermaid Frolics, also in its U.S. Premiere; never before seen on any format in the U.S. (DVD and VHS included), it documents a one-off comedy performance, stage directed by Monty Python’s Terry Jones, starring John Cleese and then-wife Connie Booth from Fawlty Towers.

Also showing on opening day is the World Theatrical Premiere of Margaret Kinmoth’s Remember the Secret Policeman’s Ball? Commissioned by the BBC in 1994 to celebrate the series’ 25th anniversary, this “Best of the Balls” presents both performances and recollections of many of the key participants, including Python’s John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, plus Rowan Atkinson (“Mr. Bean”), Stephen Fry, Jennifer Saunders, and musicians Sting and Bob Geldof. Screening with Remember… is The Secret Policeman Rocks!, featuring Pete Townshend, Sting, Peter Gabriel, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, David Gilmour, Mark Knopfler, Dave Stewart, Kate Bush, Phil Collins, Bob Geldof, and more. Series co-creator and co-producer Martin Lewis, who first recruited rock musicians for Amnesty, created this brand-new music special to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the series. Lewis will appear in person at the 9:30 p.m. screening as well at subsequent screenings.

Another highlight is the eponymous film/event that gave its name to the entire series, The Secret Policeman’s Ball (Sat., Jun 27 & Mon., Jun 29), directed by Julien Temple (Earth Girls Are Easy, The Filth and the Fury). This is the original 1980 show (and film), uncut and never released in the U.S., with 20 minutes added from the DVD version. Featuring half the Pythons, plus Eleanor Bron, Billy Connolly, the breakthrough debut of Rowan Atkinson, and Peter Cook, Temple’s film also captures the rock community’s longstanding support of Amnesty International with stunning acoustic performances by The Who’s Pete Townshend.

Finally, arguably the most exciting event of the festival is the Conspiracy of Hope. On Sunday, June 28, from 12 noon to 11pm, a marathon screening of Amnesty’s legendary 1986 all-day NY concert at Giants Stadium will be presented in “real time.” This all-day special, only aired once-live-never repeated, never on DVD or VHS, will be screened minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, uncut, in the same month-of-the-year, same day-of-the-week, exact same timeframe. Performances include The Police (specially reformed after a 4-year hiatus), U2, Peter Gabriel, Miles Davis, Jackson Browne and Lou Reed, Carlos Santana, Fela Kuti, Joni Mitchell, Yoko Ono, Joan Baez, The Neville Brothers, Bryan Adams, Howard Jones and appearances by Robert DeNiro, Michael J. Fox, and Muhammad Ali. There will be a free giveaway at the screening — all attendees will receive a limited-edition commemorative poster at the event.

Series co-creator and co-producer Martin Lewis is available for interviews.

Please contact Gabriele Caroti at gcaroti@filmlinc.com for more information.

Press releases and hi-res images may be downloaded from filmlinc.com/press Password: press

SOURCE The Film Society of Lincoln Center

Source: newswire

comments powered by Disqus