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Essay Film Festival Presents: Elizabeth (Katharine Meynell 2016)

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Birkbeck Cinema

43 Gordon Square

London

WC1H 0PD

United Kingdom

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Elizabeth, 23 minutes, directed by Katharine Meynell, 2017

Elizabeth concerns the life and work of typographer Elizabeth Friedlander. The film takes an essay form, describing what is known of her life, using archive footage interspersed with landscape and speculative images and text, probing the practical and political life of women surviving on wit and skill in early twentieth century Europe.

Friedlander, calligrapher, typographer and graphic designer, trained at the Berlin Academy, and was the only woman of her generation to have designed a Western typeface. Her font Elizabeth, commissioned in 1928, is still in use in digital form. Friedlander left Berlin in 1936 with her mother’s 1703 Klotz violin and her portfolio. Navigating Europe as a refugee, she lived in Milan and then fled again, working in London for many years before retiring to Kinsale. Accounts of her are sparse but reveal a quiet, determined and highly sociable individual, befriended by the Toscanini’s, Noel Coward, the Lord Mayor of Cork, Elizabeth Bowen, Stanley Morison and many other people associated with the design field. Friedlander worked for international publishing companies including Penguin, Mondadori and Thames & Hudson. During WW2 she worked for the Political Intelligence Department in London, where amongst other things she forged Wehrmacht and Nazi Party rubber stamps.

I liked it very much indeed - cinematically and in terms of its subject matter Elizabeth’s roots in German modernism, her involvement with a modernist craft, her exile in the UK, the familiarity of her anonymous designs - so as often, her achievements have had to wait for a feminist storyteller!” – Laura Mulvey

Following the screening the director Katharine Meynell will be in conversation with Esther Leslie.

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Birkbeck Cinema

43 Gordon Square

London

WC1H 0PD

United Kingdom

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