Introducing Radiance Films
We've recently added Asian films from label Radiance Films - Benny Chan's debut feature A MOMENT OF ROMANCE starring Andy Lau, a worldwide blu ray debut for Kosaku Yamashita's BIG TIME GAMBLING BOSS and Kinji Fukasaku's YAKUZA GRAVEYARD.
Not only do they distribute hard to find films on blu ray, but their passion for evangelising about film discovery is reflected in their in-house zine Dirty Arthouse.
As a fairly new label that we like, we wanted to tell you more about this label, and who better to tell you about it than the founder Francesco Simeoni himself, a well-known figure in the industry and he's ex-Arrow Video too (great credentials for starting your own label!):
A Moment of Romance
Terracotta: What made you start your own label?
Francesco: I wanted to focus more on great but obscure films. I spent a lot of time mining huge classics in elaborate editions that I started to feel that smaller films were being neglected. But with my own label I could take more risks and do more adventurous releases with lower overheads.
Francesco: I was reading about the formation of the first Italian film companies, Lux, Smerelda etc. all were based in different cities as it was then the Italian industry was not concentrated in Rome. And the description of these companies’ Radiance set off a lightbulb in my head. I liked the idea that Radiance would mean both the spread of cinemas geographically but also the connection to a light glow, radiating from the screen.
Francesco: Finding buried treasure probably. When I first started buying DVDs outside of the known canon I made some of my best discoveries. Everyone knew Ford, Fellini, Kurosawa etc. but once I discovered Imamura, Borowczyk, Melville etc. there was this amazing sense of discovery and I haven’t felt that as strongly in recent years but it’s been a delight doing it again from this side of the fence. I hope people see Yamashita, Comencini, Damiani and feel like they’ve found great new directors they want to follow and explore.
Francesco: Aside from the films themselves which are the first thing I think about I’ve really enjoyed doing some big extras, like a 30-year survey of New German Cinema which culminated in a 50-minute visual essay documentary on Red Sun and just recently we completed a 129-minute documentary on Robert Altman’s misunderstood and neglected O.C. and Stiggs. But also it’s the adventure in curation, like setting up ongoing series in Commedia all’italiana which will explore Italy’s comedic tradition through the 1960s and 1970s which was focused on more grotesque and darkly dramatic ideas rather than broad and cheesy laughs some might mistake it for. Even Working Class Goes to Heaven and The Sunday Woman are part of this tradition so I like the interconnected nature of my releases. It’s funny when a release pops up in another, like in the extras for Yakuza Graveyard Kazuya Shiraishi mentions Big Time Gambling Boss as a key yakuza film and in A Moment of Romance Thieves Like Us gets mentioned.
Francesco: A flood of films come to mind but I won’t mention something you hear about all the time so will say a film I love a lot that seems to be discussed less which is Syndromes and a Century. I’m a big fan of Weerasethakul and I think this is one of his best films. It’s a tremendously rich and layered film with complex lighting and sound design that adds so much to the film’s mood. The performances too are brilliant and for a film like this which isn’t about big characters and plot there is a huge amount to get from everything that’s going on. But also it very much is its own thing, unlike western or even arthouse films having its own specific rhythm and quirks. I’ve never had the time to explore more fully but Weerasethakul definitely has a way with narrative construction and I’ve never been able to work out whether this is a specifically Thai cultural influence or not but either way it makes for fascinating viewing. His films stay in my mind for days after watching them, which I think is the sign of a truly great film.
Terracotta: How did you get your first-break/ first entry level job in the film industry?
Francesco: Purely by chance I got a finance job in a cinema company. I was a big film fan and was at the time transitioning my VHS collection to DVD and turned up to my second interview clutching an HMV bag. I think they gave me the job because they could tell I was a real film fan and luckily for me the company was all genuine fans, which wasn’t common at other companies. So it was a great induction and education to the business and wider film culture. I learned a lot there.
Any sneak peeks of up coming films that you are allowed to share with us?
Francesco: We are working on two boxed sets – one is a collection devoted to the post apocalyptic films of Piotr Szulkin, a Polish visionary filmmaker that sits somewhere between Andrei Tarkovsky and Terry Gilliam and the first in an ongoing series of World Noir which will trace the influence of film noir around the globe with the first set focusing on the 1950s.
With thanks to Francesco Simeoni. Check out the Radiance Asian films on blu ray on the Terracotta store