Seventh Row presents a 2020 holiday gift guide tailor made for the film lover in your life, from books about film to ebooks read by actors.
It’s the time of year again to start panicking about what to get your loved ones for Christmas! We can’t help you with all of them, but if there’s a movie lover in your life that you want to treat, we’ve put together a list of gifts you can’t go wrong with — some from our own store, and some from other creators we love.
Our top holiday gift guide recommendation: books about filmmaking
Ebooks about filmmaking are our flagship content at Seventh Row, and they’re online only, so they make for a perfect last minute gift (no shipping deadlines!). Included in our library of 12 books are the first books ever written about Céline Sciamma and Joanna Hogg, as well as books on Canadian cinema, documentary cinema, and more. Prices range from $19.99 to $26.99 CAD. Browse our books >>
If you’re feeling extra generous, you can gift a year of Seventh Row membership, which includes one ebook. Price: $39.99 CAD. Find out about membership >>
For fans of women in horror, we wrote an ebook last Halloween called Beyond empowertainment: Feminist horror and the struggle for female agency, an ambitious and illuminating 24 chapter book full of essays and interviews. Price: $26.99 CAD. Find out about Beyond empowertainment >>
You might also be interested in Women Make Horror (approx. $35 CAD) and Scared Sacred (approx. $43 CAD), two essay books featuring writing from Valeria Villegas Lindval and Andrea Subissati, who both appeared on our Women in Horror Month podcast.
For fans of Mike Leigh and Peterloo, there are two excellent books that would make good companion pieces. One is our ebook, Peterloo in process: A Mike Leigh collaboration ($24.99 CAD), which features interviews with Leigh and many of his key collaborators, in order to paint a picture of Leigh’s creative process. While Peterloo in process provides plenty of historical context about the Peterloo massacre, the graphic novel Peterloo: Witnesses to a Massacre (approx. $16 CAD) provides that context with beautiful illustrations.
For fans of Sally Potter, or anyone who likes reading about acting, Potter’s book Naked Cinema: Working with Actors is an absolutely essential read. It’ll make you appreciate how skilled and smart Potter is even more. Price: approx. $25 CAD. Find out about the book >>
This year we launched our first pieces of Seventh Row merch, and they’re absolutely gorgeous. Check out all our merch here >>
First came our mugs, which celebrate two of our favourite arthouse filmmakers, Kelly Reichardt and Céline Sciamma. Price: $29.99 CAD.
We also just launched a tote bag and poster full of inspirational filmmaking quotes, which is the perfect gift for the filmmaker in your life. One of those quotes might be just what they needed to hear to help them along their latest project. Price: $29.99 to $39.99 CAD.
Last up is our shirt celebrating Kelly Reichardt’s First Cow. Buy it for the friend in your life who’s desperate to join Cookie and King-Lu’s Baking Company. Price: $39.99 CAD.
DVDs aren’t always the best gift for a cinephile, since they might have seen the film already, plus you can get most films on streaming platforms anyway. We’ve chosen these four DVDs because they’re films you might only be able to access on DVD.
Conversations with Other Women is our top suggestion, because there are two versions of this wonderful film, and the best one is only available if you buy the original DVD from 2006. The film was originally shot and edited entirely in split screen, and it works beautifully, as we discussed a few months ago on the podcast. But the film didn’t hit with audiences, and the studio decided to rectify that by re-editing the film to remove the split screen. Now that’s the only version you can find on streaming services and VOD. Blasphemy! Trust us when we say that this film is essential, and the split screen is part of what makes it essential. Price varies. You’re probably best off trying eBay to find it. Check out the image below to see what it should look like.
We also recently chatted about the brilliance of Debra Granik’s Down to the Bone on a recent podcast episode. It’s not available on any streaming platforms in a lot of the world, including America, so a DVD might be the only route to watch it. Price: $29.74 CAD. Buy the DVD >>
Audiobooks read by actors with soothing voice
In the last few years, audiobooks, and the most popular audiobook service, Audible, have really taken off. One tried and true method of picking great audiobooks is picking ones read by actors with great voices — especially when coupled with excellent texts. Here are four audiobooks we love, read by some of the best actors of their generation with the very best voices.
Rosamund Pike’s readings of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility are two of our absolute favourite audiobooks. Pike does all the voices for these eminently re-readable books. Price: $5 to $34 CAD.
Few actors have a voice as gorgeous and expressive as André Holland to the point that we’d gladly listen to him read the phone book. Fortunately, he’s recorded one audiobook to date, the crime thriller Darktown by Thomas Mullen. The book is fortunately good and deals with systemic racism among the police, but it’s Holland’s reading that’s the real draw. Price: $30 CAD.
Ben Whishaw’s voice is probably best known as the voice of Paddington bear, a gentle soul performed ever so gently by Whishaw. His beautiful voice is certainly a big part of his appeal as an actor, and there could be no better match between actor and material than Whishaw and E.M. Forster’s Maurice, a gay romance across class lines that dares to end happily. And who doesn’t want a bedtime story read to them by Paddington? Price: $22 CAD.
Tech to enhance your movie-watching experience
At Seventh Row, we’re always talking about the importance of sound in cinema, but few people have a home cinema setup that is as dedicated to sound as it is to image. If you’ve got a stereo, we highly recommend connecting it to a television. If you don’t, or watch films on a laptop, or live in an apartment, a great pair of headphones is essential for your movie-watching experience. On the high end, we love Sony’s WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones which will kill the background rumble of your fridge and ventilation and deliver a crisp, detailed sound. They’re also terrific for music. Price: $299.99 CAD. Check them out >>
These days, so much of what we want to watch isn’t necessarily available through a TV — whether it’s indie streaming services, online film festivals, or national broadcasters like the BBC, CBC, or SBS. So it’s essential to have a way to connect your computer to your television. The old-fashioned way to do this is with a wire. New computers will need a HDMI to USB-C wire. But if your computer is a few years older, you may be looking at an HDMI to Mini-Displayport wire. Make sure you have a spare HDMI cable for the job. Price: from $13 to $16 CAD.
Another way to connect your TV to your television is with an Apple TV (from $229 CAD) or Chrome Stick ($124.37 CAD) for Chromecast (many smart TVs actually have Chromecast built in). Chromecast is the cheaper option, but Apple TV is great for Apple devotees, and especially useful as a backup for when Chromecast fails, which we find happens with certain streaming services.
Finally, no film lover should be without a good VPN service — both to protect your browsing and let you potentially access streaming content in other countries. We use NordVPN, which we find hugely reliable, fast, and which has servers in over 30 countries around the world. Price: $78 CAD/year. Purchase NordVPN through our affiliate link >>
Our friends over at The Film Stage have hosted regular Cinephile Game Nights throughout the pandemic, using the highly entertaining Cinephile card game. Price: $32 CAD. Find out about the game so you can play along >>
The Slamdance Film Festival just announced that, if you purchase it before the end of December, you can get an all access, online festival pass for free. Talk about a cheap gift >>
Looking for a gift for the theatre-lover in your life? Here are some recommendations for streaming theatre and books on theatre.
Surprise the theatre-lover in your life with a £10 ticket to watch the encore screening of The Old Vic’s In Camera production of Lungs starring Claire Foy and Matt Smith. We adored this production during its live run back in June, and can’t recommend it enough as a way to spend 90 minutes watching actors at the top of their form in an innovative theatre recording. Price: $17 CAD. Buy a ticket >>
The National Theatre pioneered recording theatre with high production values and multiple cameras in the English-speaking theatre world through its NT Live program. For years, it was impossible to catch old productions that were no longer screening in cinemas. This month, that changed, with the launch of National Theatre at Home, the National Theatre’s subscription service to watch NTLive productions and archival recordings. The current offering includes NTLive recordings of Nicholas Hytner’s Othello (with Rory Kinner and Adrian Lester) and Julius Caesar (with Ben Whishaw), Carrie Cracknell’s Medea (with Helen McRory) and Josie Rourke’s Coriolanus (starring Tom Hiddleston). Plus, the NT has opened part of its archive, starting with the Lucy Kirkwood-penned Mosquitoes starring the two preeminent Olivias (Colman and Williams). Price: $144 CAD/year. Give a gift subscription here >>
Marquee.tv, another recorded performance subscription service, has been around a bit longer, and is the place to catch up with Royal Shakespeare company productions (including I May Destroy You’s Paapa Essiedu as a wildly charismatic Hamlet), the Donmar Warehouse’s all-female Shakespeare productions starring Harriet Walter, plus British opera and ballet. Price: $107 CAD/year. Give a gift subscription here >>
Books on theatre
To mark the end of his decade-long tenure as artistic director of the National Theatre, Nicholas Hytner published a memoir, Balancing Acts, about the challenges of the role, which is full to the brim with great behind-the-scenes stories. One of our favourites is of Hytner directing Dame Maggie Smith in The Importance of Being Earnest, which led her to take him to meet one of the originators of the production to discover what he was doing wrong. Price: $5 CAD. The book is great both as an audiobook and a hardcover book >>
Richard Eyre’s book of interviews, Talking Theatre, is a great oral history of British theatre, as he talks to actors, directors, and craftspeople about their experiences working in theatre, stretching back over 50 years. It’s also got some great gossip and stories. Price: from $11.71 CAD. Get a copy >>
You could be missing out on opportunities to watch great films on VOD, virtual cinemas, and festivals.
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