Mark Cousins (filmmaker)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Mark Cousins (film critic))
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Mark Cousins
Mark Cousins - IFFR 2017-1 (cropped).jpg
Born (1965-05-03) 3 May 1965 (age 55)
Coventry, England
OccupationFilm director, film critic
Years active1988-present
Notable work
The Story of Film: An Odyssey

Mark Cousins (born 3 May 1965) is a British-Irish director and writer based in Edinburgh. A prolific documentarian, he is best known for his 15-hour 2011 documentary The Story of Film: An Odyssey.


Cousins interviewed famous filmmakers such as David Lynch, Martin Scorsese and Roman Polanski in the TV series Scene by Scene. He presented the BBC cult film series Moviedrome from June 1997 to July 2000. He introduced 66 films for the show, including the little-seen Nicolas Roeg film Eureka.[1]

In 2009, Cousins and Tilda Swinton created a project where they mounted a 33.5-tonne portable cinema on a large truck which was physically pulled through the Scottish Highlands. The traveling independent film festival was featured prominently in a documentary called Cinema is Everywhere. The festival was repeated in 2011.[2][3]

Later works[edit]

Robert Osborne, Mark Cousins and TCM senior vice president Charles Tabesh in 2014, with the Peabody Award that TCM received for its presentation of The Story of Film: An Odyssey

His 2011 film The Story of Film: An Odyssey[4][5] was broadcast as 15 one-hour television episodes[6] on More4,[4] and later, featured at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival.[7] In September 2013, it began to be shown on Turner Classic Movies.[8] Drawing on its exhaustive film library, TCM complemented each episode with relevant short films and feature films ranging from the familiar to the rarely seen. TCM received a 2013 Peabody Award "for its inclusive, uniquely annotated survey of world cinema history".[9][10]

After The Story of Film, Cousins's next project was intentionally a small-scale work: What Is This Film Called Love? is a self-photographed diary of his three-day walk around Mexico City, accompanied by his imagined conversation with a photo of Sergei Eisenstein and reviewed as "fatuous" by Variety.[11] Another low-budget, quickly produced documentary, Here Be Dragons, covers a short film-watching trip he made to Albania and was also poorly received as indulgent and "random".[12] 6 Desires: DH Lawrence and Sardinia is structured around an imagined letter from Cousins to the author D. H. Lawrence, who wrote about a 1921 visit to Sardinia.[13] Life May Be was a collaboration with Iranian director and actor Mania Akbari, again making use of Cousins's familiar structural devices of letters, travel imagery, and voiceover commentary, judged "self-advertisement".[14]

A Story of Children and Film was better received. Its origins lay in some footage he shot of his niece and nephew at play, and grew into a documentary about the representation of children in cinema.[15][16][17][18][19]

Cousins subsequently wrote and directed I Am Belfast, in which the city is personified by a 10,000-year-old woman. Portions of the film in progress, with a score by Belfast composer David Holmes were screened at the 2014 Belfast Film Festival.[20] He is also working on a three-hour addendum to The Story of Film, on the subject of documentaries, entitled Dear John Grierson.[21]

In 2019 Cousins was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh[22]

Personal life[edit]

Born in Coventry, England,[23] Cousins was raised in Ballymena, Northern Ireland (where he attended St Louis Grammar School), and graduated in film, television and art at the University of Stirling.[20][24][25] Since 1984 he has been in a longterm personal relationship with Gill Moreton, a psychologist, whom he met at Stirling; they live in Edinburgh.[26][27]



  • Scene by Scene (2002)
  • The Story of Film (2004; re-issued in 2011)
  • Widescreen: Watching Real People Elsewhere (2008)
  • The Story of Looking (2017)


  1. ^ "Mark Cousins Years". Moviedromer.
  2. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Our gal Tilda and her magical perambulating film festival | Interviews".
  3. ^ "Entertainment | Actress Swinton hauls cinema". BBC News. 4 August 2009. Retrieved 2 February 2012.
  4. ^ a b Staff (2012). "The Story of Film: An Odyssey". Channel 4. Retrieved 5 February 2012.
  5. ^ Scott, A. O. (31 January 2012). "Your Film of Films: A Sweeping History of an Art". NY Times. Retrieved 31 January 2012.
  6. ^ Staff (2012). "The Story of Film: An Odyssey - Episodes". Channel 4. Retrieved 5 February 2012.
  7. ^ Cousins, Mark (2011). "The Story of Film: An Odyssey - Real To Reel". Toronto International Film Festival. Archived from the original on 8 February 2012. Retrieved 5 February 2012.
  8. ^ TCM Monthly Schedule-Turner Classic Movies
  9. ^ "The Peabody Awards, The Story of Film: An Odyssey (TCM)". Grady College of Journalism and Mass Media, University of Georgia. Retrieved 12 July 2018.
  10. ^ Robert Osborne - The Story of Film: An Odyssey - 2013 Peabody Award Acceptance Speech on Peabody Awards' official YouTube channel
  11. ^ Guy Lodge, "Review: ‘What Is This Film Called Love?’", Variety, 2 July 2012. ("Sprite-like Irish film critic, historian and documaker Mark Cousins has done many commendable things to honor the medium he loves so deeply -- notably last year's "The Story of Film" -- but his fatuous vanity project "What Is This Film Called Love?" is not among them."
  12. ^ Stephen Dalton, "Here Be Dragons: London Review", The Hollywood Reporter, 17 October 2013. ("Shot last year during a short working holiday in Albania, this free-associating documentary initially promises to illuminate a mysterious Balkan backwater rarely seen on screen. Instead, it reveals rather too much about its author, his brainy reading habits, his airline meals, and his random thoughts on culture and politics.")
  13. ^ Brian Moylan, "Sundance 2015 review: 6 Desires: DH Lawrence and Sardinia – Mark Cousins is lost somewhere over The Rainbow", The Guardian, 24 January 2015.
  14. ^ Andrew Pulver, " Life May Be: Edinburgh 2014 review – intensely felt passion with a sense of self-advertisement. Mark Cousins' latest essay film is a two-way love letter to Iranian artist-film-maker Mania Akbari, with intriguing results." The Guardian, 21 June 2014.
  15. ^ Peter Bradshaw, "Cannes 2013: A Story of Children and Film – review", The Guardian, 4 April 2013. ("... one of the most beguiling events at Cannes, appropriately presented in the Cannes Classics section. Mark Cousins's personal cine-essay about children on film is entirely distinctive, sometimes eccentric, always brilliant: a mosaic of clips, images and moments chosen with flair and grace, both from familiar sources and from the neglected riches of cinema around the world.")
  16. ^ Peter DeBruge, "Cannes Film Review: 'A Story of Children and Film', Variety, 18 May 2013.
  17. ^ Tim Robey, "A Story of Children and Film, review: A vivid history of children in front of the camera", The Daily Telegraph, 3 April 2014. ("Something about Mark Cousins’s feyly magisterial presenting style fits the material like a glove in his new documentary – it may be the best thing he’s ever done."
  18. ^ Mark Kermode, " A Story of Children and Film review – Mark Cousins's 'spine-tingling' visual essay" Mark Cousins's film exploring childhood and film is dazzling in its breadth and intelligence", The Guardian, 5 April 2014. ("A hugely impressive work by a uniquely talented storyteller.")
  19. ^ Mark Cousins, " Fountain of youth: how a film-maker recaptured his passion for the craft. Burned out after making the epic documentary The Story of Film, Mark Cousins describes how filming kids having fun helped him find his way back – and create a moving portrait of childhood." The Guardian, 2 April 2014.
  20. ^ a b Una Brankin, "Mark Cousins: A personal odyssey. As he brings his new film to Belfast, director and critic Mark Cousins tells Una Brankin how he's learning to love his home city once more." Belfast Telegraph, 1 April 2014.
  21. ^ Mark Cousins, "Dear John Grierson: A Postscript to The Story of Film (rough cut). All aboard the good train cinephilia, as Mark Cousins conducts us to lesser-visited stations around the documentary globe." Sight & Sound, 14 August 2014.
  22. ^ "Dr Mark Cousins FRSE". The Royal Society of Edinburgh. 15 March 2019. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  23. ^ Mogwai gear up for stunning Coventry Cathedral show-CoventryLive
  24. ^ Henry Hepburn, "Mark Cousins" Archived 2 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine, TESS, 21 September 2012.
  25. ^ "Honorary Graduates of the University of Stirling" (2013), University of Stirling, accessed 2015-03-01.
  26. ^ Teddy Jamieson, "Interview: Mark Cousins on the end of youth", The Herald, 30 September 2012.
  27. ^ Fiona Reed, "Lip service rustles up a real glass act", The Scotsman, 12 June 1999  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required).
  28. ^ Cousins, Mark. "Atomic, Living in Dread and Promise". Storyville. BBC Four.
  29. ^ "Women Making Films: A New Road Movie Through Cinema". Official Site. Retrieved 1 September 2018.

External links[edit]