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“There is nothing, absolutely nothing, which can match Night and Day by Anthony Wall and Emma Matthews, a 24 hour compilation of Arena’s back pages which provides, as well as anything can, a tangential history of the past 40 years and reminds us how vital and supple a medium TV can be.”
– Jonathan Meades nominates his all time favourite documentary in The Guardian
Night and Day is a completely new cinematic experience. Sourced entirely from the unique treasure trove that is the archive of Arena, the world’s longest running arts documentary series. It has no beginning, no middle and no end, simply the time you choose to start watching, how long you stay watching and the time you choose to leave. Its narrative is simply that of night and day itself, edited to a precise audio visual experience of the times and date on which its screened. The Arena archive seems to provide an inexhaustible supply of scenes from all over the world and protagonists who range from ordinary people to some of the most famous of the past century – Mandela to McCartney, Amy Winehouse to Catherine Deneuve, Johnny Rotten to Antonioni.
Night and Day has screened as a continuous television presentation, tailored to each time and place, at the Telluride Film Festival; on screen at the Cambridge Film Festival for 24 hours; as an art infiltration all over the City of Cambridge; as part of an exhibition of the story of Arena at the University of Brighton and as a 24 hour installation at the Carroll Fletcher Gallery, London W1 and at New York University.
“People seemed to feel it was an event, a discovery, a slightly unclassifiable thing… Thank you all for such an incredible, moving work (c.5.45am I was almost in tears)”
– Sukhdev Sandhu, NYU and Sight and Sound
This is a new version, tailored exactly to GMT on 3rd February 2018. The sun will go down in London at 16.53 so too on the Regent Street Cinema screen and twilight will end at 17.35 inside and outside the cinema and so on. We begin with Roy Plomley driving through London’s winter snow to pre-record an interview with Paul McCartney for Desert Island Discs, we linger over the final hours of late lunches with Luis Bunuel in Madrid, Anita Ekberg in Rome and Jeffrey Bernard in Soho. Great sporting events begin, followed by tea to that weird hour between the afternoon and evening. Cocktails, children’s bedtime, preparing and having dinner set against entertainment and performance from Mumbai to New York’s Apollo Theatre, from the Albert Hall to the night clubs of Bamako.
How to watch… Think Celia Johnson in Brief Encounter. After shopping she has time to kill before her assignation with Trevor Howard at the station. She decides to take in a film. She would almost certainly arrive halfway through the film, watch till it starts again and leave at the point where she might say, ‘this is where I came in.’ ‘This is where we came in’ is not an observation available for Night and Day, any more than it would be for the day itself. However it would perhaps more satisfactorily fulfil Celia’s needs in the afternoon.
Night and Day could be a perfect respite between engagements or just an end in itself. Come as you are, come when you like, watch for an hour or two, maybe have a drink in the bar, depart into the centre of London or go back in for more.
- BBFC rating
- Running time
- 510 mins
- Other features
- Anthony Wall, Emma Matthews