Nicky Gallani has worked in the film industry for many years in roles spanning distribution, exhibition and production including stints at the ICA Cinema, LFF/BFI and as a freelance consultant to Italian Cinema London and Peccadillo Pictures.
Nigel Cole's Made In Dagenham is playing at the BFFK this month
Her latest role has been as festival producer for the first ever British Film Festival in Kurdistan (check out the website here); as the BFFK draws to a close tonight we asked Nicky for her thoughts.
What's your connection to the British Council?
I used to work closely with the British Council on touring packages of films when I was at the ICA Cinema in the 1990s, and they've always been a welcome fixture at film festivals over the years. They're now supporting the first ever British Film Festival in Kurdistan.
Your current project/s?
I'm producing the British Film Festival in Kurdistan – a bold venture spearheaded by Chris Bowers - the Consul General in Erbil, Phil Hunt from Bankside and Bayan Rahman of the KRG. We're creating two pop-up cinemas inside a conference centre as Erbil currently has no cinemas, and showcasing some wonderful British films with live Kurdish subtitles
What/who originally turned you onto film?
My grandfather designed film posters at one time, and gave me some old distribution catalogues from the 1930s which I pored over (developing a ridiculous crush on Ivor Novello) and my mother took me and my brother to the cinema regularly - Disney's 'Pedro and The Dancing Chihuahua' has a lot to answer for. June Givanni really inspired me to get into the industry. She was at the BFI at the time, and bizarrely, I met her and Laura Mulvey at a film conference in Italy. I took them shoe shopping and pumped them for information.
What has been your career high so far?
Producing a feature film on zero budget was a strange kind of high and, having dealt primarily with a 'finished product', was something I'd always wanted to do. But persuading Dennis Hopper to visit London in 2008 to do an onstage for one of my favourite cult classics, The Last Movie, was very special. No-one had any idea he was ill at the time, and he was as magnetic and inspiring as you'd expect. He had some funny, wonderful stories about Hollywood and the art scene, and was a great advocate of digital technology and the freedom it offered independent filmmakers.
What was your first job in the film industry?
I was Assistant Director on the now defunct Piccadilly Film Festival which was like the cheeky child of the LFF in those days. We shared office space with Ken Loach, and that year premiered Twin Peaks, Cry Baby and Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down. I was in clover.
If I knew then what I know now...
I took some time out to go into the food and drink business. Just when I thought I was out, film pulled me back in...
What is your favourite British film? Why?
Matter of Life and Death, Don't Look Now and Local Hero, all of which I can watch over and over. I love the old Hammer Horrors, but Quatermass and the Pit is really chilling – a uniquely British mash-up of horror, sci-fi, devilry and the London Underground. Also Jon Amiel/Toni Grisoni's Queen of Hearts because it's a delight and one of a handful of British films about the Italian diaspora.
If you could have directed/been involved with any film ever made, which one would it be? Why?
I've never had any dealings with Almodovar whose films I adore and who just gets better and better. How about Volver, then I'd have worked alongside Pedro, Penelope Cruz and Carmen Maura.
What's your favourite line or scene from a film? Why?
Maggie Smith's line about 'never venturing forth without a macintosh square' in Room with a View. It's not profound, but I spent some time in Florence and watched this regularly at the English cinema. I know most of it off by heart and Maggie Smith and Judi Dench are a joy to watch in this scene on a hillside in Fiesole.
Favourite screen kiss? Why?
The kiss between Shaun and Shell in This is England is really well played - sweet, awkward and slightly wrong. Favourite though has to be between Michael and Fredo in Godfather II – he kisses his brother on the lips just before arranging his despatch. For me it sums up the film.
Who would play you in the film about your life? Why?
I do admire those continental actresses with something to say for themselves. Melina Mercouri maybe? It might end up as a musical, so she could really make it her own (and maybe include some dancing with chihuahua's).