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New exhibition and book launch on work of influential filmmaker and writer

The work of early filmmaker, writer and film theorist Béla Balázs is the focus of a new exhibition and book launch organised by the University of Warwick and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).

Curated by photographer, writer and curator Zsuzsanna Ardó, the exhibition, The Spirit of Film, The Road to Casablanca via Béla Balázs’, runs at BAFTA and three Everyman Cinemas in London. A private viewing and screening of Michael Curtiz’s Casablanca (1942) will take place on Tuesday 8 June at BAFTA in London to mark the opening of the exhibition. The exhibition has been supported by BAFTA, BFI, the University of Warwick, Screen and the Hampstead Authors’ Society.

The event will also launch a new book edited by Professor Erica Carter from the University of Warwick’s Department of German Studies. Published by Berghahn Books in their Film Europe series, and translated by Rodney Livingstone, Béla Balázs: Early Film Theory, is the first English translation of Balázs’s early work. The translation was funded by the Kraszna-Krausz Foundation, Screen, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and the University of Warwick, and is published in association with the film journal Screen.

Béla Balázs was born in Hungary in 1884 and began his career as a poet in the turn-of-the-century Budapest. After the failure of the Hungarian uprising in 1919, he fled to Vienna with his wife, Anna Hamvassy, as well as other prominent exiles including the philosopher Georg Lukács and the filmmaker Michael Curtiz (who later directed Casablanca). In 1922 Balázs began writing film reviews for the Vienna daily Der Tag: and after his later move to Berlin, the reviews became the raw material for two pathbreaking works on the new art of film, Visible Man (1924) and The Spirit of Film (1930).

The exhibition is inspired by Balázs’s perspective on film, including his insights into the close-up, montage, and the role of the moving image in transforming human perceptions of the world. The exhibition will be launched at two parallel sites in London: at BAFTA and Everyman Hampstead. It will be open to the public during June, July and August at Everyman Cinema Hampstead, September at Everyman Belsize Park and October/November at Everyman Baker Street.

The book, Béla Balázs: Early Film Theory, can be purchased from www.berghahnbooks.com

Notes to editors

A limited number of spaces are available for the Private View at BAFTA on 8 June (incl. a screening of Casablanca); please contact rsvp@bafta.org for availability.To find out more or to arrange an interview with Professor Carter, contact Kelly Parkes-Harrison, Communications Manager, University of Warwick, k.e.parkes@warwick.ac.uk, 02476 150483, 07824 540863

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German Studies professor Erica Carter speaks about her new book on early filmmaker Béla Balázs