Since his death in 1994 from AIDS-related illness, British visual artist Derek Jarman continues to grow as an inspiring icon for what truly independent filmmaking might look like.
At once lyrical and radical, Jarman gained international attention in 1977 with his blissfully homoerotic Sebastiane. For over two decades he remained an impassioned and inspired director of gay-themed cinema, working along the way on shorter pieces with such artists as The Smiths, Throbbing Gristle, Michael Clarke, and the Pet Shop Boys.
One of the artists he virtually discovered was the now globally acclaimed Scottish actress Tilda Swinton, casting her in his 1985 Caravaggio. Swinton collaborated on Derek with another of Britain’s most celebrated visual artists, director Isaac Julien. acknowledged for such innovative film work as Looking for Langston and Young Soul Rebels and for his stunning gallery installations, and penned its soundtrack as deeply personal letter to Jarman.
Julien uses extensive archival, home movie, and interview footage to guide viewers through Jarman’s achievement, and to that extent Derek offers up the pleasure of witnessing the inimitable Julien helping us remember another British inimitable who helped pave the way. (76 mins., video)
Interview with Isaac Julien and Tilda Swinton:
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