Rod White is the Head of Programming at the Filmhouse Cinema in Edinburgh. You may well have seen him introducing some of the films he has chosen and, if you have, you'll know that he is a man who knows his movies. MyFilms2010 chanced its arm and asked if he would answer a few questions for us...amazingly he agreed. On the surface these questions may seem a bit trite but actually they are incredibly clever questions designed to give an insight into who the real Rod White is...at least that's what I'll be claiming when I submit my application for a press pass to this years EIFF.
In order to lure Rod into a false sense of security I began by asking him what the first film he could remember going to see was. No doubt this threw Rod as he is probably more used to being asked clever questions about the underlying messages of Kazakhstani film noir from the 1970's. "It was definitely "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang", which is still a personal favourite, and, if I'm not mistaken, it was at the city centre ABC in Dundee." This threw me a little bit...like you I expected the Head of Programming at the Filmhouse to have been taken to see "La Dolce Vita" at a small boutique cinema in Rome by his bohemian parents while holidaying there. The fact that he went to see "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" in Dundee would appear to show that he is an "ordinary" man and not some sort of cinema snob. Interesting.
I have a couple of films that I use to "judge" people. That makes me sound incredibly shallow doesn't it? That's because I am. The films that I use to judge whether or not I can be "proper" friends with someone are "The Exorcist" (I know, I know...utterly predictable and a bit Mark Kermode) and "Lost in Translation". What about you Rod? "Obviously I wouldn't be so judgmental Paul but if forced to choose one...let's say "Tremors". In case you're wondering...yes, that "Tremors". Luckily for me I really like "Tremors" and so there is a good chance that one day I could become friends with Rod. If you don't like "Tremors" then you can't...actually, that's not quite true but I'm trying to put you off attempting to hassle Rod in the Filmhouse bar by shouting "I LIKE TREMORS TOO...PLEASE BE MY FRIEND".
I went to school with a boy called Harold Howarth. He used to break wind into his hands and then shove them into my face. I hated him...understandably I think. If I could punish him by locking him in a room and forcing him to watch one film on loop for eternity it would be "The Spirit". What about you Rod, what film would you choose to punish someone? "Baz Luhrmann's "Moulin Rouge"...because my cruelty knows no bounds!". There you have it, don't upset Rod White because if he ever has the power to punish you for upsetting him (and under New Labour that day may not be far off) then you will have to watch "Moulin Rouge" for all eternity. You see...it was all "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" and quirky, cult monster movies a minute ago but now he's going to lock you in a room and force you to watch "Moulin Rouge".
On a more serious note I asked Rod why he thought industry bashes like the Oscars and the BAFTAs insist on "ghettoising" foreign language films like "Un Prophete" (which by any standard was the best film of last year but was ignored in the best film category and lumped into the foreign language basket") and focus only on English language films. "They don't know what they're looking for with foreign language and so they tend to go with films that speak the universal language of sentimentality. That wasn't always the case". I think that's the best answer I've heard to that particular question and it made me feel a bit better about films like "Un Prophete" and "The White Ribbon" being overlooked for awful films like "Avatar" and "An Education". Thanks Rod.
If I had my own cinema and I had the chance to choose what film would play on its last ever day of business it would probably be "A Matter of Life and Death" because it's the one film I can watch time and again and never tire of. What about you Rod? If the Filmhouse were to close its doors tomorrow what film would you programme to be its epilogue? "It would be "The Third Man" - it's the best British film ever made and, selfishly, it's probably the film I've played more times than any other in my time programming here at the Filmhouse".
So, what have we learned from Rods time on the couch here at MyFilms2010? Nothing really, except that, clearly, he loves films...I can't think of a better qualification for being in charge of programming film at the best cinema in Edinburgh. Can you?