Producers who 'revitalised' British film culture loan archive to DMU

Producers who championed some of the biggest indie film hits of the 1980s and 1990s have put their archive in the care of De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).

As a distribution company, Palace Pictures launched international hits including When Harry Met Sally, The Evil Dead and Cinema Paradisio in the UK and also distributed films by independent directors like Ken Loach, John Waters, Peter Greenaway, Neil Jordan and Mike Leigh helping them gain wider audiences.

Mona Lisa film

Founders Stephen Woolley - who was last night awarded the BAFTA for Outstanding Contribution to British Cinema with producing partner Elizabeth Karlsen – and Nik Powell, a former senior executive at Richard Branson’s Virgin empire, have loaned their archive to DMU’s Cinema and Television History Institute (CATHI) for a minimum of 10 years.

The institute is one of the leading film research teams in the country and specialises in British film.

Professor of British Cinema, Steve Chibnall, said that it would be an important resource for the Institute: ‘Palace really revitalised British film culture at one of its lowest points in the 1980s. The company had freshness and vitality with “attitude”, and pushed boundaries with films like Mona Lisa, Scandal, and the Oscar-winning The Crying Game.

"We will catalogue the files and digitize parts of the archive, which includes production files, scripts, financial records, publicity, and even some costumes and props. We already have plans for a book and a series of events to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the company."  

Closely linked to London’s Scala Cinema, famous for its all-night screenings, Palace Pictures began as a video distribution company but moved into film production in 1983 with The Company of Wolves, the David Bowie cult hit Absolute Beginners and the internationally-acclaimed The Crying Game.

After the company collapsed in 1992, Mr Powell went on to establish Scala Productions responsible for films including Fever Pitch and Ladies In Lavender, which are also part of the archive at DMU.

Mr Woolley has continued to make award-winning films. He formed Number 9 films with wife Karlsen in 2002 and it has become one of the leading UK independent production companies. It was responsible for the multi-award winning Carol, starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, and Colette, starring Keira Knightley and Dominic West, which premiered last month.

Posted on Monday 11th February 2019

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