About Mark Cousins

© Ehsan Khoshbakht

© Ehsan Khoshbakht


Mark Cousins is 48, going on 15.  He makes films and movie events.  His first feature, The First Movie, was about kids in Iraq.  His work with Tilda Swinton, especially the 8 1/2 Foundation, has been influenced by childhood.  His other movies – The Story of Film: An Odyssey, Here be Dragons, What is this Film Called Love?, 6 Desires, etc –  are passionately international, as is this season. He’s honorary professor of film at Glasgow University, but wants his passport to say “explorer”.  He likes to dance, swim at midnight, draw and dress up.


Introduction to the Cinema of Childhood

Films about childhood take us on fantastic voyages.  E.T.:  The Extra Terrestrial was a magical bike ride across the moon. The Jungle Book showed us the bare necessities.  A boy in The Red Balloon stole our hearts.  Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli’s films are animated dreamscapes.

Beyond these mainstream and arthouse classics, there’s a world of great cinema about kids which is hardly known, but just as brilliant.  Welcome to that world.  Jump into it.  Fly to the moon on gossamer wings with the little boy in Astrid Henning-Jensen’s Palle Alone in the World.  Get close to the flame of life with Renko, in Shinji Somai’s masterpiece, Moving.  Body-swerve the bullies in Karel Kachyna’s Czech cinematic wonder, Long Live the Republic.  See Little Fugitive, the American film which helped inspire the French New Wave. Discover the masterpieces of one of the world’s greatest movie-makers, Mohammad Ali Talebi from Iran – Willow and Wind, The Boot and Bag of Rice.

From April 2014 onwards at cinemas across the UK, The Cinema of Childhood presents a touring season of 17 amazing films about childhood, from 12 countries, spanning eight decades.  Most are featured in my documentary A Story of Children and Film, also released in April.

Often, kids in films are either little angels of devils. But in these movies we see far more: creativity, cunning, self-help, doggedness, joy, abandon and passion. The season introduces us to films of great honesty and beauty.

Many have rarely, if ever, been shown in UK cinemas. This is your once-in-a-lifetime chance to enjoy them all.  Feel young again. See the world through the eyes of a child. You’ll discover movie masterpieces, new stories, new truths, an Aladdin’s cave.

The season will be touring UK cinemas until March 2015. But if you miss any of the films, or want to see them again, they are also available online via the Filmhouse Player (www.filmhousecinema.com/player).

Treat yourself

Mark Cousins


Mark tweets here.


Dear Mr Gorbachev (assoc d, with Mike Grigsby, 60 m, 1989)

Gulf War: Scottish Eye (d, 38 m, 1990)

Another Journey by Train (co-d with Mark Forrest, 59 m, 1993)

I Know Where I’m Going! Revisited (d, 30 m, 1994)

Ian Hamilton Finlay (d, 40 m, 1996)

I Remember IKWIG (d, 40 m, 1996)

Scene by Scene (d, 24 x 60 m doc interviews, 1997-2001)

Cinema Iran (w/d 59 m, 2005)

On the Road with Kiarostami (w/d, 28 mins, 2005)

New Ten Commandments: Kenny Richie (co-d with Irvine Welsh, 11 m, 2008)

NTC: 8 1/2 (co w/co d with Tilda Swinton, 23 m, 2008)

The First Movie (w/d/dp, 81 m, 2009)

The Story of Film: An Odyssey (w/d/dp, 930 m, 2011)

What is this Film Called Love? (w/d/dp, 75 m, 2012)

Dear Georges Melies (with 102 children and Tilda Swinton, 8 1/2 mins, 2013)

Here be Dragons (w/d/dp 76 mins, 2013)

A Story of Children and Film (w/d/dp, 101 m, 2013)

Homeless and The Wind in the Trees (w/d/dp, 2 x 9.88s, 2014)

Life May Be (co-w/co-d/co-dp with Mania Akbari, 80 m, 2014)

The Oar and the Winnowing Fan (w/d/dp 4 x short films, takeover of Dazed Vision, 2014)

6 Desires: DH Lawrence and Sardinia (w/d/dp, 83 m, 2014)



Imagining Reality: The Faber Book of Documentary (Faber in the UK)

Scene by Scene (Laurence King)

The Story of Film (Pavilion in the UK)

Watching. Real. People. Elsewhere (Wallflower/Columbia University Press)



The Apartment (Billy Wilder, 1960)
Come And See (Elem Klimov, 1985)
Distant Voices, Still Lives (Terence Davies, 1988)
Eureka (Nicolas Roeg, 1983)
The House is Black (Forough Farrokhzad, 1962)
The Insect Woman (Imamura Shohei, 1963)
Kaagaz Ke Phool (Guru Dutt, 1959)
La Maman et la putain (Jean Eustache, 1973)
Minamata: The Victims and their World (Tsuchimoto Noriaki, 1972)
A Moment of Innocence (Mohsen Makhmalbaf, 1995)

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