UNDER THE INFLUENCE The director has turned curator for the BFI
To tie in with the film’s release, Jenkin has curated a season of 23 features, shorts and TV episodes entitled The Cinematic DNA Of Enys Men, which will run throughout January at BFI Southbank and on the BFI Player service. Some of his choices use similar formal techniques – like Agnas Varda’s 1976 documentary Daguerreotypes, which he describes as “a masterclass in editing”. Others have related subject matter.
“There’s obvious things like ‘Stigma’, by Lawrence Gordon Clark”, Jenkin says, referring to the 1977 Ghost Story For Christmas centred on a standing stone. “Haunters Of The Deep , a Children’s Film Foundation film, uses some of the same locations. And ‘Oss Oss Wee Oss’  is about Padstow May Day, one of the ancient May Day celebrations in Cornwall.”
The filmmaker also doffs his hat to some formative influences. “‘A Journey To Avebury’  is representative of all Derek Jarman’s influence on me. And Walkabout was probably my awakening, as somebody who’s interested in film. It was the first time I watched a film and was blown away by the control the director could have over what the viewer was seeing.”
Nicolas Roeg’s 1971 outback tale was also a direct, conscious influence on Enys Men. “The playing backwards sequences are a nod to Walkabout,” Jenkin reveals. “Luke Roeg’s little boy character imagines animals that have been shot coming back to life. All Nic Roeg does is play the film backwards, and suddenly they stand back up.”
In other instances, Jenkin only realised that there’d been an unconscious influence on his work later. “It turns out that I’ve stolen some shots from ‘Stigma’, which I didn’t realise until I watched it again. And I use some of the same shots from Haunters Of The Deep as well. So it’s quite nice. The DNA is real – it’s stuff that I saw when I was young and has obviously gone in.”
In another case, it took others to point out the similarities. “I saw Jeanne Dielman  a long time ago, probably when I was at film school, then in reviews from Cannes two or three critics mentioned it. I went back and watched it, not thinking it’d had any influence on me, and was going, ‘Oh my god, this is incredible.’ Sometimes you don’t know what you’ve done until somebody else tells you, and then I’m quite happy to go, ‘Oh yeah, that’s where that came from!’”