Mark Cousins

Mark Cousins is a film maker, writer, former Director of the Edinburgh Film Festival‚ TV presenter of the BBC’s 'Scene−by−Scene'‚ where he interviewed cinema greats including Martin Scorcese‚ Woody Allen‚ Sean Connery‚ Tom Hanks‚ Dennis Hopper‚ Kirk Douglas‚ Rod Steiger‚ the Coen Brothers‚ Bernardo Bertolucci‚ David Cronenberg‚ David Lynch‚ Donald Sutherland‚ Ewan McGregor and Jayne Russell.

  • Mark Cousins

Mark Cousins

What’s your connection to the British Council?
Tilda Swinton and I just did the 'Scottish Cinema of Dreams in China' that was funded by the Scottish Government, Edinburgh University and the British Council in Beijing.  It was fantastic working with the BC there.  The staff were fizzing with ideas and reliable.  Our project was very unusual - we turned a cinema in Beijing into a Scottish forest, with projections, sound effects, trees, lighting, pine oil, glitter and feathers! - but the BC team took to it with alacrity and a sense of fun and style.

Current project?
The Paradise Movie Hall of West Bengal
- in which we will convert a wee church hall in Edinburgh into a Bengali cinema.  That's as much as I can say at the moment because our plans are under wraps!

What/who turned you onto film?

The way that horror movies jangled my nervous system; seeing Orson Welles' Touch of Evil on BBC2 when I was a boy.

Career high?
So many.  Playing the Edinburgh Film Festival in Sarajevo during the siege.  Meeting and interviewing people like Jack Lemmon and Sharmila Tagore.  Writing my book The Story of Film.  Working with Tilda on the Ballerina Ballroom and in Beijing.

First job in the film industry?
Making tea for Sheena Macdonald at Scottish Television.

If I knew then what I know now...
I'd think of the camera is a wee pencil to draw with rather than a scary things with loads of buttons.  I'd sleep with it on the pillow beside me at night and make it my friend.

Favourite British film?
Distant Voices Still Lives
.  It's so gorgeous, so like a reverie, such a triumphant recovery from and portrait of a hard childhood.

If you could have directed any film ever made, which one would it be?
Intolerance to see epic filmmaking on that scale and Kagaaz ke Phool to see Guru Dutt work.

First film you remember seeing?
Herbie Rides Again

Favourite line from a film?
'Shut Up and Deal', from the end of The Apartment - a great way to tell someone you love them!

Favourite screen kiss?
Marlene Dietrich kissing the woman in the nightclub in Morocco still packs a punch.

Who’s your favourite screen hero/villain?
Gabbar Singh in Sholay is unforgettably nasty.  Hero, without a doubt, is the wee boy who finds the lost red boot in Mohamed Ali Talebi's Iranian film The Boot.

Who would play you in the film about your life?
Guru Dutt, Maggie Cheung and Jean Pierre Leaud!