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Michael Winterbottom


Damon Smith

Publication Year: 2010

Prolific British director Michael Winterbottom (b.1961) might be hard to pin down and even harder to categorize. Over sixteen years, he has created feature films as disparate and stylistically diverse as Welcome to Sarajevo , 24 Hour Party People In This World, Butterfly Kiss and The Killer Inside Me. But in this collection, the first English-language volume to gather international profiles and substantive interviews with the Blackburn native, Winterbottom reveals how working with small crews, available light, handheld digital cameras, radio mics, and minuscule budgets allows him fewer constraints than most filmmakers, and the ability to capture the specificity of the locations where he shoots. In Michael Winterbottom: Interviews he emerges as an industrious filmmaker committed to a stripped-down approach whose concern with outsiders and docu-realist authenticity have remained constant throughout his career.Collecting pieces from news periodicals as well as scholarly journals, including previously unpublished interviews and the first-ever translation of a lengthy, illuminating exchange with the French editors of Positif , this volume spans the full breadth of Winterbottom's notably eclectic feature-film career.Damon Smith, Brooklyn, New York, is a film programmer and editor for Babelgum. His work has appeared in Reverse Shot , Boston Globe, Time Out New York Cinema Scope and several other publications.

Published by: University Press of Mississippi


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pp. v-vii

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pp. ix-xx

Within minutes of meeting Michael Winterbottom, even the savviest journalist learns one thing about the affable, boyishly handsome British filmmaker: he doesn’t like to be pigeonholed. Asked a personal question, he demurs. Loath to psychologize his characters or intellectualize the artistry behind his craft, Winterbottom often reverts to the plainest language he can find to address questions about style and motivation. ...


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pp. xxi-xxiv


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pp. xxv-xxxix

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Wings of Desire

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pp. 3-4

A busy man, Michael Winterbottom. Having already attracted attention for TV work like Love Lies Bleeding, the Roddy Doyle series Family, and the opening episode of Cracker he went on to make his first, low-budget (

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People Who Are Excluded from Society: Interview with Michael Winterbottom

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pp. 9-19

Q: What is your background? A: My family is from Lancashire, where my mother was a teacher and my father worked at Philips. We lived in a big housing complex next to a small town. The television was always on; this was how I discovered not only old films, but also the young English directors of the seventies, ...

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FIR Chats with Director Michael Winterbottom

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pp. 20-21

FIR: One can draw similarities between Jude and your previous film, Butterfly Kiss. I don’t know if it was intentional, but the idea of doomed couplings, for instance . . . ...

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An Interview with Michael Winterbottom, Director of Welcome to Sarajevo

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pp. 22-25

After making his film debut in 1995 with the killer-lesbian, road-trip romance Butterfly Kiss, and following it a year later with Jude, an adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure, director Michael Winterbottom next moves to Welcome to Sarajevo, a complete departure from the filmmaker’s style and a considerable challenge to audiences wherever it is ...

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Michael Winterbottom: Welcome to Sarajevo

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pp. 26-33

Lancashire-born Michael Winterbottom’s directorial bravura was first noted in his debut feature Butterfly Kiss, and subsequently in Go Now, featuring Robert Carlyle as a man coming to terms with multiple sclerosis. His latest achievement, Welcome to Sarajevo, unlike Srdjan Dragojevic’s Pretty Village Pretty Flame or Emir Kusturica’s Underground, views the horrendous Bosnian conflict from the diverse perspectives of a cadre ...

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Winterbottom Walks through Wonderland

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pp. 34-37

The producer Steve Woolley was once asked to compare the American and British film industries. He said it was like the difference between the NASA program and a couple of old women in the outer Hebrides knitting jumpers. ...

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Michael Winterbottom’s Wonderland

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pp. 38-42

In Michael Winterbottom’s wistful family portrait Wonderland, starring a cast of stellar U.K. thespians (Gina McKee, Molly Parker, John Simm, Shirley Henderson, Ian Hart), the British director does for South London what Short Cuts did for Los Angeles. Ten ordinary characters in search of an exit, looking for meaning and contentment against the backdrop of London’s everyday sights—the Southwark Bridge, the Elephant & Castle ...

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An Interview with Michael Winterbottom: The Claim

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pp. 43-49

Q: Why did it make sense for you, as a British director, to take the story of The Mayor of Casterbridge and relocate it to the American West in 1867? MW: The starting point for what me and Frank [Cottrell Boyce] and Andrew Eaton, the producer, wanted to do was make a film about Europeans going to America, rather than wanting to make a film about ...

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The Film Factory

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pp. 50-53

Michael Winterbottom looks a little miffed when I ask him how he has managed to make so many films in so little time. “I don’t make that many films,” he says, defensively. Oh come off it, you’re always at it! He tries another tack. “Most people make a lot of films,” he says. Which is blatantly not true. We’re lucky to get a film every two years out of ...

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Anarchy in the U.K.: An Interview with 24 Hour Party People Director Michael Winterbottom

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pp. 54-59

You could pick any member from the rogue’s gallery of characters that inhabit the mad Manchester music scene of 24 Hour Party People and make an entire movie solely about them. They run the gamut of being fiercely independent, brilliant, hilarious, larger-than-life, and even heroic. ...

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World in Motion

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pp. 60-63

On the borders of Afghanistan, that other country where America won the war but lost the peace, a massive refugee crisis grinds on mostly forgotten by the world at large. For prolific British director Michael Winterbottom, however, the situation has occasioned a politically charged road movie. In This World is a stark, startling account of two Afghan ...

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Michael Winterbottom

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pp. 64-66

Michael Winterbottom’s words pour forth in a high-octane rush, a fitting complement to his nonstop work behind the camera. The London-based director’s surfeit of creative energy has fueled four films in the past two years alone, and he knows what he wants to do next. In the decade since his striking big-screen debut Butterfly Kiss (which premiered in the ...

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Michael Winterbottom on Code 46: Typical Love Story in an Atypical World

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pp. 67-70

Usually, I’d be offended at being offered only ten minutes of interview time with a filmmaker; but with Michael Winterbottom, I almost want to encourage him to stop talking and get back to work as soon as possible. Since his 1994 debut feature, Butterfly Kiss, Winterbottom has established himself as one of the more eclectic and prolific contemporary ...

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Michael Winterbottom Gets Naked

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pp. 71-81

On a bleak British afternoon last fall, Michael Winterbottom and his small crew were preparing for filming on the top floor of Felbrigg Hall, a possibly haunted seventeeth-century manor in eastern England. Winterbottom, one of England’s most prominent independent filmmakers, was directing an adaptation of Laurence Sterne’s often-cited, rarely read novel The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, aptly described ...

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Chaos Theory: Michael Winterbottom on Tristram Shandy

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pp. 82-88

With his seen-it-all gaze and embedded smirk, the actor and comedian Steve Coogan carries himself like the living embodiment of British unflappability. It’s amusing, then, to see the former Alan Partridge’s face scrunch up while discussing his professional relationship with Michael Winterbottom, who has directed Coogan in the two best movie roles of his career: Manchester pop impresario Tony Wilson in 2001’s ...

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Michael Winterbottom: “That’s How People Are”

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pp. 89-96

Take a great work of literature and try to adapt it for the screen. You have a risk, more likely a certainty, that the film won’t come close to measuring up to the original. If you bet on this expectation, you’ll rarely lose. Name anything by Henry James or Ernest Hemingway or even recent fiction by Elmore Leonard, and you’ll find the same problem. ...

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In Praise of Folly: An Interview with Michael Winterbottom

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pp. 97-105

During his whirlwind career as a director, Michael Winterbottom has emerged as something of a chameleon. Befuddling auteurists who reduce directors’ careers to a constricting set of themes and stylistic choices, Winterbottom’s films include sober adaptations of Thomas Hardy, forays into political cinema such as Welcome to Sarajevo and In This World, an earnest jab ...

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Michael Winterbottom’s Road Movie

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pp. 106-116

In February, I thought that The Road to Guant

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Michael Winterbottom Opens His Heart

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pp. 117-124

In recent years, British director Michael Winterbottom has made a reputation for himself as one of the most prolific filmmakers working today—and one of the most eclectic. Since 1995, he has made fifteen feature films (with three more in pre-production), including literary adaptations (Jude), melodramas (Welcome to Sarajevo), sci-fi (Code 46), surreal ...

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Interview with Michael Winterbottom

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pp. 125-130

As part of a series celebrating architecture on film, the Barbican recently screened the underrated British science-fiction film Code 46, which tells a tale of forbidden love in a city that is futuristic and yet very familiar. Just before he went onstage to do a Q&A following the screening, Michael Winterbottom discussed some of the film’s themes and ideas with ...

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Michael Winterbottom’s True Stories: The Shock Doctrine

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pp. 131-134

The Slaughtered Lamb pub in Clerkenwell, East London, is a funny place to meet Michael Winterbottom. A stone’s throw from the offices of his production company, Revolution Films, it’s named in winking homage to the pub in John Landis’s An American Werewolf in London— the one on the Yorkshire Moors where everyone stops talking when the two hitchhikers walk in. ...

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Michael Winterbottom: Genova

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pp. 135-143

The small British town of Blackburn, Lancashire is mostly famous for two things: four thousand holes and one prolific director. Not that a young Michael Winterbottom filled his days counting to see if indeed there were as many potholes in his home town’s roads as John Lennon had famously sung about in the Beatles’ song “A Day in the Life” (a task completed, incidentally, by a ...

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Michael Winterbottom: The Killer Inside Me

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pp. 144-152

Q: Your method of adapting novels—Tristram Shandy, Jude the Obscure, The Mayor of Casterbridge—is not to be strictly faithful to the story or methodology of the source text. How did that play out here? A: Well, it was the opposite, really. When I read the book, I thought that you could almost film it. The book tells its story through dialogue. ...


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pp. 153-158

E-ISBN-13: 9781604738414
E-ISBN-10: 1604738413
Print-ISBN-13: 9781604738407
Print-ISBN-10: 1604738405

Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2010