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Griffiths, Keith (1947-)

Producer, Director

Main image of Griffiths, Keith (1947-)

One of the most adventurous and innovative British producers of recent years, described by the novelist Iain Sinclair as "the great facilitator of British cinema", Keith Griffiths has been a crucial factor in bringing to the screen work by such unclassifiable talents as the Brothers Quay, Patrick Keiller, Chris Petit and the Czech animator Jan Svankmajer, as well as many outstanding documentaries on some of cinema and the art world's more marginal figures.

After studying Industrial Design at Leicester College of Art, he took a postgraduate degree in Film and Television at the Royal College of Art, where he met the Brothers Quay and assisted the artist Eduardo Paolozzi. From 1971 to 1976 he interspersed researching European Community media projects with working as Film and Visual Arts Officer for Lincolnshire Arts and Film and Video Officer for Greater London Arts. In 1976 he became Deputy Head of Production at the BFI Production Board, where he produced numerous films including the features Riddles of the Sphinx (co-d. Laura Mulvey/Peter Wollen, 1977) and Radio On (d. Chris Petit, 1979).

In 1979 he founded the London-based Koninck Studios and produced (and occasionally co-directed) the Brothers Quay's first short films, starting with Nocturna Artificialia (1979). These were interspersed with award-winning documentaries, including many for Channel Four's Visions strand (1982-85), about Len Lye, Robert Breer, Oskar Fischinger, Andy Warhol and Jan Svankmajer, whose feature film career he then helped establish with Alice (Neco z Alenky, Switzerland, 1987). Griffiths would be credited as executive producer on most of Svankmajer's subsequent films.

He also produced Patrick Keiller's features London (1994), Robinson in Space (1997) and The Dilapidated Dwelling (2000) and the Chris Petit Iain Sinclair collaborations The Falconer (1997), Asylum (2000) and London Orbital (2002), while continuing to work with the Brothers Quay on their breakthrough short Street of Crocodiles (1986), their feature debut Institute Benjamenta (1995) and many other projects.

More recently, he co-produced six new features for the New Crowned Hope festival to mark the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth in 2006 - though the films were inspired more by the composer's creative ideals than specifically by his music. They were Dry Season (d. Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, Chad), Half Moon (Bahman Ghobadi, Iranian Kurdistan), I Don't Want To Sleep Alone (d. Tsai Ming-Liang, Taiwan), Opera Jawa (Garin Nugroho, Indonesia), Paraguayan Hammock (d. Paz Encina, Paraguay) and Syndromes and a Century (d. Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thailand), their source countries alone revealing Griffiths' international eclecticism - though he has continued to work with British filmmakers, including Dave McKean, Chris Petit and Peter Strickland.

In addition to his film-making activities, Keith Griffiths is a respected authority on art cinema and the avant-garde, having written numerous articles on the subject as well as editing the quarterly journal Film and Video Extra and the book The Brechtian Aspects of Radical Cinema, organising the international conference Video Perspectives and working as a visiting lecturer at the Berlin Summer Film Academy and Northern Media School at Sheffield. He won the Observer-Prudential/Arts Council Award for Film in 1994.

Michael Brooke

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Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Anamorphosis (1991)Anamorphosis (1991)

Part-animated exploration and analysis of an optical conundrum

Thumbnail image of Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer, The (1984)Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer, The (1984)

A tribute to the great Czech animator

Thumbnail image of Comb, The (1990)Comb, The (1990)

The Brothers Quay visit 'the museums of sleep'

Thumbnail image of Dilapidated Dwelling, The (2000)Dilapidated Dwelling, The (2000)

Patrick Keiller's film-essay on the state of Britain's domestic buildings

Thumbnail image of In Absentia (2000)In Absentia (2000)

Powerful visualisation of a piece by Karlheinz Stockhausen

Thumbnail image of Institute Benjamenta (1995)Institute Benjamenta (1995)

The Brothers Quay's debut feature, set in a bizarre school for servants

Thumbnail image of London (1994)London (1994)

Patrick Keiller's first feature, an idiosyncratic look at the British capital

Thumbnail image of Nocturna Artificialia (1979)Nocturna Artificialia (1979)

Debut Brothers Quay: nocturnal puppet animation about dreams and trams

Thumbnail image of Phantom Museum, The (2003)Phantom Museum, The (2003)

A partly animated exploration of the Wellcome Trust's medical collections

Thumbnail image of Radio On (1979)Radio On (1979)

Cult existential road movie with a vivid rock soundtrack

Thumbnail image of Rehearsals for Extinct Anatomies (1987)Rehearsals for Extinct Anatomies (1987)

Beautiful near-abstract black-and-white animation inspired by Fragonard(s)

Thumbnail image of Robinson in Space (1997)Robinson in Space (1997)

Patrick Keiller's voyage round mid-1990s Britain

Thumbnail image of Street of Crocodiles (1986)Street of Crocodiles (1986)

A nightmarish netherworld populated by strange and sinister puppets

Thumbnail image of This Unnameable Little Broom (1985)This Unnameable Little Broom (1985)

A tale of victims, victimisers and viciousness by the Brothers Quay

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