Birmingham-born cinema fanatic Xavier Mendik is bringing his own- brand adult film festival to the Midlands. GRAHAM YOUNG reports IT'S A tough job watching cult horror and sex films for a living - but someone has to do it. And Xavier Mendik has carved out an academic career for himself doing just that.
The principal lecturer in film studies at the University of Brighton bringing Cine-Excess to Birmingham's mac this weekend. Academics, industry figures and film-goers alike from across the UK and Europe will have a chance to watch movies and discuss them, too.
Subjects up for discussion include Crude Britannia; Horror, Eroticism and Euro-Anxiety; Sex and the Unsafe Space - Titillation, Threat and the Erotic Home Invasion; Arousing Auteurs; and Whips, Chains and the European Mind-frame.
Some of the contributors are stalwarts of the Midlands' media scene.
Moseley-based Professor Roger Shannon, who ran the Birmingham is International Film Festival for many years, is on the panel for the main event, a Saturday discussion called Echoes of Excess (3pm- 5pm).
On Sunday from noon, Flatpack Festival director Ian Francis will chair a 90-minute event called Programming Exploitation Workshop, with Xavier among the panellists.
Xavier, aged 45, from Erdington, launched The Cult Film Archive 13 years ago with many filmmakers themselves contributing to his 4,000-strong archive of movies.
Not all of this weekend's movies have been certified by the BBFC, but they have gone before a licensing committee at Birmingham City Council.
"I usually just ask for a blanket 18 because that makes it so much easier," says Xavier.
"But the whole point of Cine-Excess is that it's a mainstream festival. "Normally you either get academics or film people at festivals, but I wanted to bring the two communities together at a hybrid event.
"There's nothing in this device that's going to give people the frights or the BBFC kittens and we don't need security guards on the door."
The Cine-Excess theme changes every year.
Its emphasis on sex films in 2013 is simply a combination of the mac celebrating its 50th anniversary at the same time that a film is being made out of the bestselling novel 50 Shades of Grey.
"I'm really proud to be bringing Cine-Excess out to the regions," says Xavier. "Before it's either been in Brighton or in London's West End, but I thought I'd try it here.
"None of the participants we've had have ever asked me for money and the talent we've had in the past, from Joe Dante (Gremlins) to Roger Corman, have come because it was career reevaluation time."
One conclusion Xavier reaches time and again is that cult movies are braver than Hollywood films.
"'Is Hollywood too tame?' is a good question," says Xavier.
"But you need to reverse it. A lot of its remakes are more explicit than the original movies that were controversial.
"Hollywood likes moral questions to be resolved, cult films leave you thinking.
He adds: "Rather than be in conflict, we tend to work with the BBFC.
"And it's thanks to Tarantino that 'cult' has gone so much more mainstream."
CINE-Excess VII is being held at mac Birmingham, Cannon Hill Park, from Friday until Sunday, November 15-17, with conference registration from 11.30am-1pm on Friday.The main film premiere at 6pm on Saturday night is Martin Doepner's 2012 Canadian production Rouge sang (The Storm Within), about a young mother forced to shelter five soldiers for a night in her isolated house. It will be followed by a retrospective screening of a Catherine Breillant film and an audience Q&A with the Paris-based filmmaker and novelist. Details: www.cine-excess.co.uk or www.macarts.co.uk
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