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By midlandsmovies, May 22 2019 11:23AM



BIRMINGHAM INDIAN FILM FESTIVAL CELEBRATES 5TH ANNIVERSARY IN THE CITY


Screenings have now been announced for Birmingham Indian Film Festival (BIFF), supported by Birmingham City University and the BFI, part of the UK and Europe’s largest South Asian film festival, opening Friday 21st June until Monday 1st July 2019.


This year marks our 5th anniversary, showcasing a rich assortment of entertaining and thought-provoking independent films that have been winning awards and making global impact, including India’s new wave of LGBTQ+ films.


The Festival is presented by the Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival which is celebrating its own 10th anniversary and is extending to Manchester and Bradford.


Birmingham Indian Film Festival will run across the city for a phenomenal 11 days at existing partner venues: Cineworld Broad Street; MAC Birmingham, Cannon Hill Park; and The Mockingbird Cinema and Kitchen, Custard Factory. This year we welcome new partner venue Centrala based in Digbeth.


Cary Rajinder Sawhney, Executive & Programming Director of the festival said: “The Festival has dynamically opened the UK media and audiences to Indian and South Asian independent cinema in all its linguistic diversity, and that’s something we are extremely proud of. Punching above our weight as always, this year is probably our strongest programme ever with exciting Midland premieres, rarely seen archival masterpieces, and some seriously cutting-edge dramas and documentaries.”


The 5th Anniversary celebrations will open with a sparkling red-carpet event at Cineworld Broad Street, for the Birmingham Premiere of the hard-hitting Article 15, starring India’s hottest male star Ayushmann Khurrana, ahead of its UK and worldwide release later in the month.


FULL LISTINGS BELOW:


Opening Film – Article 15

21 June | 19:00 | Cineworld Broad Street (Red Carpet from 18.30)

Midlands Premiere. 120 mins Hindi with English subtitles. India 2019 Q&A with Anubhav Sinha and others


Closing Film – Photograph

1 July | 19:00 | MAC Birmingham Birmingham Premiere. 110mins

Hindi, Gujarati, English with English subtitles. India/Germany/US. 2019


Satyajit Ray Short Film Award - 22 June | 14.00 | The Mockingbird Cinema and Kitchen


Urojahaj (The Flight) - 22 June | 16:30 | MAC Birmingham

European Premiere. 82mins Bengali with English subtitles. India 2018 Q&A with Buddhadeb Dasgupta


Widow of Silence - 22 June | 18:00 | Cineworld Broad Street

UK Premiere. 85mins Urdu with English subtitles. India 2018 Q&A with Pravin Morchhale


Vivek (Reason) - 23 June | 16:30 | MAC Birmingham Hindi, Marathi with English subtitles. India 2018 Q&A with Anand Patwardhan.


Arishadvarga - 23 June | 19:00 | Cineworld Broad Street Midlands Premiere. 159mins

Kannada with English subtitles. India 2018


Sir - 24 June | 18:30 | MAC Birmingham Midlands Premiere. 99mins

Hindi, English, Marathi with English subtitles. India/France 2018 Q&A with Rohena Gera


My Home, India - 25 June | 18.30 | Centrala Midlands Premiere. 45 mins

English, Polish with English subtitles. India/Poland 2019


#Gadhvi - 25 June | 20:30 | MAC Birmingham

Midlands Premiere. 109mins Hindi with English subtitles. India 2018


Anurag Kashyap in Conversation - 26 June | 19.00 | The Mockingbird Cinema and Kitchen


Bulbul Can Sing - 27 June | 18:00 | MAC Birmingham

Assamese, Hindi with English subtitles. India 2018 Q&A with Rima Das


Saturday Afternoon - 28 June | 18:15 | MAC Birmingham

Bengali, English with English subtitles. Bangladesh/Germany/India 2019 Q&A with Mostofa Sarwar Farooki


Kattumaram (Catamaran) - 29 June | 13:30 | MAC Birmingham

Midlands Premiere. 73mins - Tamil with English subtitles


Chuskit - 29 June | 16:00 | The Mockingbird

Ladakhi with English subtitles. India 2018 Q&A with Priya Ramasubban


Ardaas II - 29 June | 19:00 | Cineworld Broad Street

Punjabi with English subtitles. India 2019. Q&A with Gippy Grewal and others


Useful Links


https://www.twitter.com/weLoveBIFF


www.facebook.com/BirminghamINDIANFilmFestival


www.instagram.com/weloveBIFF




By midlandsmovies, May 21 2019 06:42PM



Depicted Illusion


Directed and written by Jordan-Kane Lewis


2019


Depicted Illusion is a new dramatic character study from young student filmmaker Jordan-Kane Lewis which explores the mind of a serial killer whose victims also become his “art”.


Opening with a Blade Runner-style electronica score, the short begins with a dead body and what looks like a crime-scene photographer taking pictures of a slain woman.


However, this is actually Johnathon, the killer himself who is also a photographer and who uses his gruesome scenarios as the backdrop in his regular job.


The film also uses a voiceover (ironically like Blade Runner’s original cut too) and attempts to blend the disturbing night-time incidents with some more mundane day-time conversations.


The mix of dark lighting and digital sounds echoes some of Nicholas Winding Refn’s work – which seems an influence – and the filmmaker has high aspirations mixing heady religious themes into the protagonist’s murderous intentions.


The filmmaker acknowledges their low budget and short time to plan and unfortunately this is noticeable in a few specific areas. Especially the sound which could do with another pass in the editing studio.


Using mainly on-set audio recording there is sadly a noticeable hum in an unbalanced mix and the voiceover also gets lost in a soundtrack that is at times too loud and also too sloppy.


Some consistency would help in the lighting too but the filmmaker does make a lot of interesting shot choices. Keeping the audience visually engaged, the director – clearly cinematically influenced – adds in “God” shots, drone shots, slow zooms and sequences filmed from a car to tell their story which is to the film’s credit.


As the serial killer drags more bodies around, the voiceover moves into a sermon of the killer’s manifesto of sorts and whilst the acting is a little under-par, parts of it reminded me at times of the blank expressions within Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.


The killer uses photos of his victims in his art – a bit of Lords of Chaos here crossed with Velvet Buzzsaw - and the ending sees a group of white-masked cult members (fans?) coaxing Johnathon to a local pub.


Dressed like the party-goers from Eyes Wide Shut, but filmed in what looks like a Wetherspoons, another location would have added more atmosphere but the film’s strange ambience continues with a macabre and non-explanatory conclusion.


The filmmaker is not short of cinematic inspiration and throws a lot of meaningful ideas into the 15-minute short but it’s slightly undone by the – albeit acknowledged – confines that go with a student film.


However, whilst not entirely successful on the technical side, Depicted Illusion delves deep into the mind of a disturbed individual with some resourceful flourishes despite its low budget limitations.


Michael Sales



By midlandsmovies, May 21 2019 06:45AM



Not content with already being involved with multiple projects, Lee Charlish of Korky Films is beginning pre-production on a new project Wake-Up Call. Launching a new funding campaign, Midlands Movies uncovers more information about this unique horror project.


With tagline “True love cuts deep”, Wake-Up Call tells the story of Ronald Weiss, a plastic surgeon, who en-route to a convention, gets lost and finds an old, foreboding guest house and reluctantly stays overnight. However, he is forcibly coerced into performing surgical enhancements and is drawn into a macabre, psychological dilemma.


Lee Charlish is hoping to get the film made by raising funds and has enlisted the help of Leah Solmaz, a local Lichfield-based producer, who originates from Birmingham. There is also the opportunity for the concept to be further explored and developed into a feature film, but this will be dependent on reception, appetite and, of course, funding.


Lee adds, “The film’s ominous subtext clearly exposes society’s obsession with body image, and delves into the ugly depths which people might sink to in order to abate such perceived inadequacies. Although the ideas explored are taken to the extreme and sometimes the surreal, it’s this original approach to storytelling which will make the movie ingenious and compelling to audiences”.


Leah Solmaz of recently created Luna Kaynak Productions is attached as producer of the project and will oversee the movie written and directed by Lee and, good news to us, will be a joint production of both local Midlands-based film companies.


Leah is Birmingham born and has worked as an actor on several, local productions, including the Midlands Movies Awards’ winning feature, The House of Screaming Death. She also co-wrote/co-directed a feature called "Checking In" which won Best British Film at the London TV & Film Awards. She is currently producing (and starring) in Theosight, a web-series, which will be released soon and continues to write other projects.


Lee Charlish is a Coventry based writer, director, producer and ‘sometime animator’. He is an award-winning director, having won the Midlands Movies Award for Best Animated Film in both 2018 and 2019, as well as the DepicT! British Special Mention Award; at the Encounters Film Festival, Bristol, in 2016 for his surreal, psycho-horror, Pig Dream.


The musical score will be provided by long-time Korky Films collaborator Chris Pemberton who has worked with several high-profile bands and artistes, all over the world, and is looking to establish himself further in the world of film soundtrack composition.


Acting talent already attached includes Adrian Annis, who has worked previously with Lee on the creepy, fantasy thriller – Scarecrow and Stuart Walker, who has provided voice-work on Korky Films’ – The Cold Caller and, more recently – Waxworks Owner Fumes at Closure. Completing the cast is Charlotte Elizzabeth Langley, as ‘The Wife’.


The first port of call for funding will be the British Film Institute (BFI), although other options are being explored to ensure the movie is made. A full, ‘production package’ is currently being put together, to ensure funding applications are robust and realistic.


Although fully-cast, with three exciting actors, Leah is currently engaging with local talent to ensure Wake-Up Call is fully-crewed with a team, fully on-board with the movie’s unique story and required look and feel. It will also help with the funding campaign and will “offer a real sense of collaboration and inclusion from the get go”.


Lee Charlish says,"We know that talent exists in the region, in various roles, and we are looking for dedicated creatives to join us. We actively encourage anybody and everybody to get in touch, there are no prejudices; we just need a willingness to commit and help make this movie the best it can be".


Leah says, "We are nearly there and hopeful we have enough to secure a worthwhile budget which will truly make Wake-Up Call possible and able to fulfil its ambitions".


If anyone is suitably enticed, they should contact Leah at leahsolmaz@gmail.com to get more information, and discuss their experience and skills for consideration.


For more info check out: https://leecharlish.wixsite.com/wake-upcall


By midlandsmovies, May 20 2019 08:45PM



NUNEATON-BORN DIRECTOR BRINGS AWARD WINNING DOCUMENTARY TO THE ABBEY THEATRE FOR HOMECOMING SCREENING


Irene's Ghost follows Nuneaton-born director Iain Cunningham’s search to discover what happened to his mother, Irene, who died when he was three years old. The film was shot in Nuneaton, the area where both Iain and Irene grew up.


And now, Irene's Ghost will screen at The Abbey Theatre in Nuneaton on Wednesday 29th May at 7.30pm and will be followed by a Q&A discussion with director, Iain Cunningham.


The documentary tells a universally affecting story about family, mental health and the bonds of love and friendship, whilst movingly rebuilding a lost life, using a mixture of animation and filmed footage.


The story follows Iain’s search for information about his Mother, Irene, who passed away when he was a young child, and became something of a family secret. Decades later and inspired by the birth of his own daughter, director Iain Cunningham sets out to discover the truth about what happened.


As he pieces together the story in the present day, he encounters long-lost relatives and Irene’s best friend Lynn, and gradually gets to know his mother through the stories they tell, about life in Nuneaton in the 1970s, factory work and living for nights out at the Co-op Hall and holidays.


And as the film builds to a close, conversations within the family begin to open up, and details of Irene’s postnatal mental illness begin to emerge. The reasons for the silence around Irene start to become clear. Irene’s Ghost starts as an emotional detective story, and ends as an uplifting study of maternal mental illness, family, and female friendship.


Irene’s Ghost has been developed and produced with the support of the BFI (awarding funds from the National Lottery) with additional finance from Creative England, Screen Scotland, Wellcome and The Maudsley Charity.


Tickets can be purchased for £5 (£3 concessions) directly from The Abbey Theatre’s website:

https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/abbeytheatre/t-aoxgpx


Together Films brings IRENE’S GHOST to The Abbey Theatre in Nuneaton and the screening is supported by Film Hub Midlands; an organisation focused on creating more opportunities for audiences across the Midlands to engage with the widest range of film in as many places as possible.



By midlandsmovies, May 20 2019 08:36PM



Destroyer (2019) Dir. Karyn Kusama


As a huge fan of Kusama’s The Invitation, my expectations were high for her new crime thriller Destroyer which stars Nicole Kidman as an undercover cop taking out a gang years after she began working on the case.


Kidman plays Erin Bell in a role that’s as good as any she has delivered in the past. Dishevelled, weary and, what looks like, malnourished at times, the glamorous Kidman we've known from Hollywood is nowhere to be seen as she embodies a hard-nosed detective both physically and mentally.


Her character Bell is brought back to a case from her past by the appearance of a dye-soaked $100 bill from a botched robbery she was involved in whilst undercover with her partner Chris (Sebastian Stan). The bill and the death of a man suggests that the gang’s leader Silas (Toby Kebbell) may have returned, so she begins to track down remaining gang members in order to find him.


The film’s narrative jumps from the present investigation back to the past when Erin and Chris were deep undercover. Questioning whether they should in fact become further involved with the crime, Erin and Chris begin a romantic liaison that has serious repercussions later on. Kidman is a tour-de-force here managing to perfectly play her naïve and unknowing cop from the past as well as embodying the rugged and vengeful vigilante version of herself in the present.


Harsh scenes of threats, sexual favours, violence and blackmail all add up to a world of horrid crime and one Erin is trying to protect her wayward daughter from. As each member leads her to the next, she ends up in a firecracker of a scene with lawyer turned money launderer Dennis DeFranco who is played fantastically by a sleazy Bradley Whitford. His spiteful confidence clashes with Bell but he underestimates both her resourcefulness and her lust for revenge.


The whole cast are fantastic but it’s Kidman’s great portrayal of a disparaged and down-and-out cop that has you rooting for her even when she’s aggressively settling scores.


And Kusama’s film manages to mix sadistic and cruel circumstances with intense scenes of emotional vulnerability – Kidman’s absent mother reigns in her most brutal tendencies when dealing with her daughter and her big-headed boyfriend – leading to an outstanding balance of tones and themes.


Narratively, as our protagonist begins to go off the rails, we never once get confused as to her motivations and Kidman says as much with a dismissive gesture and roll of the eyes as she does when delivering verbal take-downs of the city’s villainous crew.


With a tremendous cast throughout and first-rate scenes exploring the consequences of violence, Destroyer is an exceptional thriller from start to finish. But more importantly, it will destroy all preconceptions you had of Kidman as she delivers a superbly astonishing turn in the type of repellent role I’d love to see more of.


★★★★


Michael Sales



By midlandsmovies, May 15 2019 02:06PM



Loro (2018) Dir: Paolo Sorrentino


Stylish. Decadent. Captivating. Loro, the latest film from Paolo Sorrentino see’s the Italian director reunite with Toni Servillo, with whom he collaborated with on The Consequences of Love and The Great Beauty, in a satirical take of Silvio Berlusconi.


Now to describe Loro as a biopic is perhaps a little misleading as the film itself is a fictional account of what might or might not have happened behind closed doors during this period of his return to politics and the breakdown of his marriage, although Sorrentino covers much more than that in this layered yet somewhat confused societal and political comedy. However the fact that the film was released in two parts in its native land, with the UK receiving a combined version lacking an hours worth of material may perhaps explain this.


The film itself is imbued with symbology, for instance at the very beginning a lamb dies in a villa, no doubt a reference to rival Agnelli, which is balanced out by the more explicit, quite literally in some cases, visual excesses which may or may not work on several levels depending on your knowledge of the characters, Italian politics and culture. This unfortunately, like many other foreign releases that do not cover universal themes, means that Loro suffers from a lack of transferability and that layers of meaning are lost.


To further complicate matters, a significant portion of the first act focuses on Sergio, a small-time and unscrupulous business man who seeks to win favour with old Silvio. However as compelling as this story is, Sorrentino appears to lose interest part way through and poor Sergio is relegated to barely even being a supporting player.


If some storylines are seemingly tossed aside in the UK version thankfully the visuals remain consistent in their beauty and alongside Servillo’s perhaps too-charming performance, there is enough for the rest of us to enjoy.


Sorrentino once again delivers excess and style in a high-brow and artistic manner, some of which is certainly questionable but perhaps apt, and while entertaining for the most part, Loro is one perhaps only for his committed fans, Italophiles or those who want an overly sympathetic story of partying Silvio.


★★½


Midlands Movies Marek

@CinemaEuropa



By midlandsmovies, May 15 2019 07:45AM



Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019) Dir: Joe Berlinger


Serial killer Ted Bundy returned to public consciousness with the Netflix series ‘Conversations with a Killer” and this resurgence of interest led to this biopic, based on a book by his former long-term partner Elizabeth Kendall.


As to be expected from the source material the film picks up during the time of Kendall and Bundy meeting and charts their lives from that point on, taking in accusations, courtroom drama and the struggle of fighting for justice.


However it is clear that rookie writer Michael Werwie struggled to adapt the source material, as he fails to grasp or decide what the focal point of this film should be. As a result director Joe Berlinger, on paper a great choice due to his background in true-life productions, struggles to maintain viewer interest over the 110 minute run time, despite managed to create a strong look to the film and benefiting from terrific cast performances.


Due to not knowing what sort of film it wants to be, or even who the underlying story should be with - Kendall or Bundy - Extremely Wicked… fails to fully engage on any level. Not to mention as the events unravel we begin to empathise with the charming and ever hopeful Bundy as he fights against what appears to be one of the great American miscarriages of justice.


Even knowing the reality, it is hard based on the film itself not to start thinking that Bundy is being railroaded by the system into being a patsy for unexplained crimes. This feeling is enhanced by the fact that the crimes themselves are relegated into the background, as is Kendall, for the majority of the film making it easy to separate the handsome, normal man from his heinous and brutal crimes.


Admittedly this is part of the films purpose but one in which it fails to manage in an effective manner. This is no doubt further complicated by Zac Efron’s fantastic performance which is delightful, but one fears that by getting him on board that certain compromises had to be made in order to protect Brand-Efron, and that possibly includes showing as little violence as possible for as long as possible, and that in itself is problematic when dealing with this subject matter.


Featuring big hitters such as the previously mentioned Efron and heavyweight actor John Malkovich, ‘Extremely Wicked…’ was always going to be a competent production but sadly in seeking a wider acceptance, and no doubt a financial return, the film panders to more mainstream tastes than perhaps the subject matter demands while trying to deliver too much content, which ironically results in it delivering very little of substance.


Ultimately Extremely Wicked… is unsure if it wants to be a personal film or simply a factual telling of selected moments and as a result drags and lacks focus.


★★


Marek Turner


@CinemaEuropa



By midlandsmovies, May 9 2019 05:59PM



Kaleidoscope

Directed by Nicole Pott

2019


“Who’s in control now?”


Kaleidoscope is the new 10-minute short from Derbyshire director Nicole Pott showing the preparation of a child’s party by his parents that unwraps a far more sinister side to this suburban family’s life.


We open on a brightly lit day where a child in a dinosaur onesie plays in his room. The camera lightly dances around the boy, Conan, (played by an excellent Harry Tayler) and along with a suitably whimsical piano score brings us into a world of childhood imagination.


As his mum (Cressida Cooper) calls him down to breakfast, he stops playing with his gun and goggles and we see his father (a burley Ian Virgo) arrive with a toweringly big present.


Whilst mother busies herself with phone calls and food preparation, we get scenes of father-son bonding. Conan and his ‘Papa’ pretend to be karate masters before he teaches his son to put on a tie for school and they leave.


Here the film cuts to later in the day with a distinct shift in tone as well. Director Pott subtly moves us from a place of childhood wonder to a darker drama as mother and father begin arguing.


Barbs fly about the father’s drinking habits and Conan moves himself away and retreats into his own world, returning to his steampunk goggles that help him hide from the noisy quarrel downstairs.


However, unbeknownst to the disputing parents, their argument moves into the bedroom he’s hiding in and he witnesses the argument become far more serious.


A verbal assault becomes a physical confrontation between them as their son witnesses the worst of family situations. Musically the audio turns much more melancholic and the film shows some stark realities of domestic violence.


As lonely Conan blows out the candles on his cake, the ending is far darker yet poignant than the frilly beginning. Kaleidoscope therefore leads audiences down surprising yet satisfying narrative paths and the short works tremendously well by contrasting these two extreme elements.


As Conan sees through dark lenses, the film’s kaleidoscopic nature consists of different parts, constantly blurring and fracturing your expectations.


With three strong performances, the actors are very believable during their interactions which move from heart-warming to dark warnings – especially when we get glimpses of a controlling and abusive partner.


Showcasing how domestic violence can be lurking very much beneath the surface of a seemingly fun-loving family, Kaleidoscope exposes a wealth of distorted domestic secrets using a wonderful narrative structure. Skilfully playing with expectations, the short is a great drama showing the unpleasant patterns of cruel perpetrators.


Michael Sales


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