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By midlandsmovies, Oct 4 2018 09:02AM



Student filmmaker tackles dark drama in new short film Terminal


Ben Evans is a student filmmaker studying in Derby who has created a new short film project called ’Terminal’ which he has written and also directed in 2018.


Starring Sophie Bloor from BBC One's 'In the Dark', the film is a short drama about the mental health of a young character towards the end of her life.


A tough uncompromising look at illness, ‘Terminal’ tells the story of Ellie (Sophie Bloor) who is diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis at the age of eight. With her father soon walking out on her, the story is picked up eleven years later. And he returns to find Ellie on her deathbed hoping to be part of her life again.


Joining Sophie will be Alix Ashurst as Helen, David Castleford as Mark, Tom Hendryk as the doctor and actress Ellie Jackson as a young Ellie.


Crew wise Ben is excited to have Jon Altham from SoundWave Studios on board to compose music on 'Terminal' and has just released the official poster for the film to the public (see above).


And with the filmmaker currently deep in post-production, Ben has high hopes for his short and is already looking at entering the film onto the festival circuit later in 2019.


Check out the full information about the film over on IMDB here:

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8570308/?ref_=rvi_tt


And for regular updates follow the film’s social media at Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/Terminal-Short-Film-1513325858777724





By midlandsmovies, Oct 4 2018 08:59AM



Midlands Spotlight - Mayhem Film Festival


The Mayhem Film Festival was founded in 2005 by filmmakers Steven Sheil and Chris Cooke and screens the best in contemporary horror, science-fiction and cult cinema from around the world right here in the Midlands.


And their forthcoming 2018 festival is no different. Featuring premieres, previews, masterclasses and international special guest filmmakers - as well and unique live cinema events - the festival has developed a reputation as one of the most innovative horror genre festivals in the country.


Running from 11th October to 14th October the event is based at Nottingham’s Broadway – one of the UK's leading independent cinemas and creative hubs.


Festival Co-Director Chris Cooke has an illustrious career by writing and directing Film 4/BFI funded comedy feature One For The Road whilst fellow Co-Director Steven Sheil is also a screenwriter and director. His first feature film, the microbudget Mum & Dad (2008) was described by Total Film as 'one of the defining British horrors of its generation'.


And with something for every fright fan, please check out the full line up for the 4-days below!


THURSDAY 11 OCTOBER

7.30PM - ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE + Q&A // Dir. John McPhail

10PM - NIGHTMARE CINEMA // Dirs. Joe Dante, Mick Garris, Alejandro Brugués, Ryûhei Kitamura & David Slade


FRIDAY 12 OCTOBER

2.15PM - THE WHITE REINDEER // Dir. Erik Blomberg

3.45PM - PIERCING // Dir. Nicolas Pesce

6.15PM - NIGHTSHOOTERS + Q&A // Dir. Marc Price

8.30PM - PUPPET MASTER: THE LITTLEST REICH // Dirs. Sonny Laguna & Tommy Wiklund

10.30PM - MANDY // Dir. Panos Costamos


SATURDAY 13 OCTOBER

12PM - ONE CUT OF THE DEAD // Dir. Shin'inchiro Ueda

2PM - PROSPECT - UK Premiere // Dirs. Chris Caldwell & Zeek Earl

4PM - NUMBER 37 - UK Premiere // Dir. Nosipho Dumisa

6.45PM - SHORT FILM SHOWCASE // Dirs. Various

9PM - THE DEVIL'S DOORWAY + Q&A //Dir. Aislinn Clarke

11PM - DEMONS + CHOWBOYS (UK Premiere) // Dir. Lamberto Bava


SUNDAY 14 OCTOBER

12PM - INUYASHIKI - UK Premiere // Dir. Shinsuke Sato

2.30PM - THE FIELD GUIDE TO EVIL // Dirs. Ashim Ahluwalia, Can Evrenol, Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz, Katrin Gebbe, Calvin Reeder, Agnieszka Smoczynska, Peter Strickland & Yannis Veslemes

4.45PM - THE WITCH IN THE WINDOW //Dir. Andy Mitton

6.15PM - The Flinterrogation in Cafébar

7.15PM - THE NIGHTSHIFTER //Dir. Dennison Ramalho

9.30PM - WHAT KEEPS YOU ALIVE // Dir. Colin Minihan


Check out the festival's official website here:

http://www.mayhemfilmfestival.com


By midlandsmovies, Oct 1 2018 08:03AM



Aura (2018)


Directed by Steve Lawson


Written by Steve Lawson (based on an idea by Jonathan Sothcott)


Hereford Films


Aura is a new film released by Hereford films and directed by local Leicester filmmaker Steve Lawson and tells the spooky tale of an ancient entity that can be exposed via a person’s aura.


Kirlian photography has appeared as a fictional element in numerous media and here the concept – a photography technique used to capture the phenomenon of electrical coronal discharges – is refigured to show a person’s supernatural “aura”. The idea of these strangely-coloured emanations has been used in past horrors including the 1975 film The Kirlian Force, re-released under the more sensational title Psychic Killer.

We open this film in a dark room as a mysterious stranger takes photographs of a girl tied to a chair and so Aura begins with a very intriguing concept repurposed for the horror genre.


Cut to the present day and we get Shane Taylor as Mitch who, along with his girlfriend Diane (a superbly vulnerable Janine Nerissa), undertakes the most cliched of horror tropes by moving into a new house.


As they settle, Mitch uncovers the photos in a basement and speaks to his mother – a fantastic Jane MacFarlane as Elaine – who explains the tormented origins of the family’s past engagements.


Lawson has raised the quality of his film once again with Aura. From Killersaurus via Survival Instinct to his last film Essex Heist, Lawson has moved leaped and bounds beyond his zero budget roots but here he continues to tackle the terror genre with a few neat additions thrown in.


To find out more about the paranormal phenomenon, Mitch goes to visit psychic Rula Lenska as Ada. Lenska is a fine face from the past to give the film a bit of gravitas in a role that is typical of the genre and one that Blumhouse have built a company from - see Ouija, Inisidious et al.


Yet Lenska is also one of a number of the actors to use an American accent with Taylor himself appearing to deliver his lines using the voice of a 1930s New York street thug. Although there is a USA muscle car as well, the film is as American as Lawson’s previous Midlands film Essex Heist is from Essex.


However, despite that small personal annoyance, the actors do very well with their roles and Lawson uses off-kilter shots and Dutch angles to add to the film’s weirdness. As we move forward with the narrative it is uncovered that one of the children used in the photo experiments, Karen, voluntarily committed herself to a psychiatric ward. Mitch takes her home and it is here where the movie kicks up a gear.


The second half of the film ditches the table-based expository scenes – which to be fair provide useful backstory but fail to scare with their broad daylight location – and this is despite Jane MacFarlane’s excellent delivery of the soliloquies - and provides some much-needed chills


What is far creepier though are a smattering of horror scenes at night now that the disturbed Karen is released back into the couple’s care. Midnight wandering, nightmare visions and a demon-summoning séance gives the audience the scary thrills it has been building to. Throw in some Exorcist-infused possession and the film delivers some fearful sequences that fright fans will lap up.


Another huge step forward for the Leicester director, Aura has great acting and fantastic Hollywood cinematography. Sadly, the story is as old as the hills with its plot points of demon possession and a matriarchal psychic we’ve seen 1000 times before. However, with this and Nottingham feature Outlawed, we are now seeing feature films from the region that have the blockbuster sheen and weighty ambition that will see filmmakers like Lawson move even higher in the echelons of the industry.


Mike Sales



By midlandsmovies, Sep 28 2018 02:33PM



Leicester animators involved in National Animation Competition AniJam UK


The public can now vote for their favourite animation created as part of AniJam UK, the first ever nationwide 48-hour animation challenge, which includes two groups from Leicester.


This summer, teams across the UK took up the challenge to create a short animation in a weekend, based on the theme ‘Together’. More than 100 animators took part, and now the shortlisted teams are battling it out to claim exclusive prizes and special trophies.


The competition is brought to you by Anim18 and WONKY Films. Anim18 is a UK-wide celebration of British animation led by Film Hub Wales and Chapter (Cardiff), with the BFI Film Audience Network and a wealth of project partners.


The series of AniJams takes inspiration from previous events delivered in the South West of England since 2012 by WONKY and Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival. This year they are extending nationally and the challenge will culminate in a prize-giving event at Manchester Animation Festival.


Each of the seven regions approached it from a different angle and were created over the summer in Belfast (with Nerve Centre), Bristol (with Encounters), Cardiff (with CHAPTER), Glasgow (with Glasgow Short Film Festival/World of Film Festival), Leicester (with Phoenix), London (with Rich Mix & Young Fan), Manchester (with Manchester Animation Festival) and York (with Aesthetica Short Film Festival).


You can help to decide the winner of the Public Choice award with voting closing on the 31st October 2018 by clicking here http://anijam.co.uk/latest-jam


Animators aged 18+ competed for free in teams of up to 5 people, creating an original film based on a theme that was kept secret until the challenge kicked off. The short films are in a range of animation styles, from 15 to 90 seconds in length.


As well as the Public Choice Award, there will be a Grand Prix selected by a panel of industry experts, including representatives from key UK film and animation festivals, studios and organisations such as BAFTA Cymru and the BFI. Prizes include bespoke trophies created by Animation Toolkit, delegate tickets to key UK festivals, and distribution by ShortsTV – ‘the global home of short movies’.


AniJam UK aims to inspire and showcase new work from emerging and established talent and the regional heats took place in cities around the UK hosted in the Midlands by partners including Derby QUAD and Leicester Phoenix.


Hana Lewis of Film Hub Wales says, “We are thrilled that an eclectic range of UK exhibitors, from venues to film festivals, are coming together to develop new animations during Anim18, merging film watching, making and understanding as part of one celebratory programme.”


Two of the local films can be seen below:


‘Together’ by Kino Bino, Leicester was made by Mair Bain, Oz Durose, Steff Lee and Jack Ross






Together’ by Tender Morsels, Leicester was created by Tim Greengrass, Claire Larkin, Alex Morgan, Mark Spokes and Steve Umanee






By midlandsmovies, Sep 28 2018 02:31PM



Midlands Review – Voice of Belief


Voice of Belief (2018)


Directed by Alastair Railton


Fresh AIR Films and Media


“Good evening. An attack in Central London tonight has claimed the lives of seven”.


And so opens new film Voice of Belief from Grantham born Alastair Railton who directs and writes this new political thriller about freedom, oppression and belief.


Inspired by Charlie Chaplin's speech in the Great Dictator, the film attempts to create a modern take on the subject matter and give it a more relevant and up-to-date context.


The story follows anarchist revolutionary Jason Argyll (Simon Crudgington) who captures negotiator Ellen Turner (played by Astrid Bellamy) before his planned political speech to be broadcast around the globe.


The film sets up its world with Matrix-esque electronic codes alongside images of wealth in the form of wine and dollar bills. Voices in a variety of languages show this is a global issue as we are told of terrorist atrocities against the "1%ers" on the streets in a violent campaign from the “Argyle” movement and its network of followers.

Argyll’s hostage is tied to a chair which is an image ripe for the local film scene right now – see Sheikh Shahnawaz’s Witness and GM Finney’s Thursday – before they engage in a war of words over the group’s global goals.


As they discuss the world’s infection by “corporate elites”, we get an update on Chaplin’s speech including nods to modern technology such as the hacking of government databases, alluding to the recent tactics of groups such as Wikileaks.


The great cinematography from Adam Hudson uses cinematic colour grading and extensive silhouette work which gave the film a sheen of quality. However, the beige warehouse exterior needed some more texture and depth.


The above wouldn’t be as much of an issue but the film has an awful lot of dialogue. And I do mean a lot. Ditching the old adage about showing not telling, almost the entire first half of the film’s 28-minutes is expositional conversation as the two leads discuss their ideologies back and forth.


Unfortunately then, it begins to tie itself up in some cod-philosophical platitudes which dance around vague concepts. “Every society needs leadership”. “I agree”. Maybe it’s my own political leanings but it’s difficult to get on board as many of the themes are far too widely drawn.


The second half feels much more coherent though. The back and forth diatribe and talk of political machinations are ditched for a more intriguing tone featuring gun standoffs, tension building and heightened passions.


As well as this, we get some new visuals in the form of a day-dream and the dialogue shows more variation in what is being talked about.


Here it could be said Railton is figuratively depicting Chaplin’s speech when it references the “Kingdom of God is within man”. Although technically a woman in this case, Ellen Turner imagines the green rolling fields of her own Eden as she contemplates her future.


As the film builds to its crescendo, the balaclava-wearing supporters get their guns at the ready as an attack on their compound is imminent. Argyll starts to deliver his sermon direct to camera in a scene eerily akin to today’s terrorist messages.


And a sermon it is. Here the dialogue came across a little preachy and you could argue that this man sounded like every other hate preacher. With the two extreme viewpoints in opposition throughout – violence for getting what you want or blindly accept the status quo – the film doesn’t exactly sit in the grey area it alludes to.


Simon Crudgington does his best to raise some sympathy with his impassioned delivery and ends his vocal calling with a wry smile suggesting a glimmer of hope.


It has been said that bad men often come along promising easy solutions to complex problems. The lead here does somewhat the same and the film would have benefited from some more self-awareness. “I think it's better to have ideas. You can change an idea. Changing a belief is trickier”, someone once said. As so it goes.


Despite all this, I can’t help but recommend the film. With two performers busting under the weight of lofty dialogue the film at least attempts to tackle complex subject matter whilst not always hitting its mark. And although you have to wade through the first half to get to the drama, the film will certainly make audiences think about wider issues. Taking international themes, Railton uses a local cast to create a new adaptation of a cinematic classic that will have you questioning your own beliefs. Which is no bad thing at all.


Mike Sales


Voice of Belief will be showing in Grantham at the Guildhall Arts Centre on Saturday the 13th of October from 2:30pm


Check out the film’s Facebook page to follow the latest updates and screenings

https://www.facebook.com/Voice-of-Belief-1591952617567805/


By midlandsmovies, Sep 24 2018 06:08PM



Derby QUAD celebrates 10-Year Anniversary


On Wednesday 26th September 2018, Derby QUAD will be turning 10 years old and we take a look back over the past decade of some of its highlights and why it plays a pivotal role in the region’s film community.


QUAD is a long-established creative hub that connects people and businesses to art and film and creates opportunities for entertainment, education and participation.


Originally Metro Cinema was Derby's only independent cinema with screenings at the Playhouse theatre until the cinema opened on Green Lane in January 1981, at the original site of the Derby Central School of Art.


Metro then moved at the end of 2006 to a temporary home in The Heap Lecture Theatre at the University of Derby on Kedleston Road before the projection equipment was then removed and prepared for installation in QUAD.


And QUAD has been booming ever since. As a registered independent charity, it also receives funding from a variety of sources including Derby City Council and Arts Council England to help create and support exhibitions and outreach work. And also provides creative opportunities for thousands of people every year.



A notable highlight at QUAD of course is the annual Derby Film Festival which we have covered a number of times since its inception. With amazing guests & fantastic film previews, the Derby Film Festival (DFF) has been running in QUAD since 2010. The festival’s prestigious patrons are actor David Morrissey and Anwen Hurt and it has seen many famous film faces arrive as guests over the years.


These include actor Simon Callow, actress Julie Peasgood, Sir Ben Kingsley, actor Jenny Agutter, directors Peter Sasdy and Jake West, director Mark Herman and historical consultant Dr. Jacqueline Riding, Puppeteer Marcus Clarke, directors John Hough, Waris Hussein and Michael Armstrong, actor Sir John Hurt, Monty Python’s Terry Jones, Brian Blessed and Paddy Considine.

https://derbyfilmfestival.co.uk/festival-history


In addition to that is QUAD’s Fright Club where a mix of brand new terrors from home and abroad are enjoyed alongside the pick of the archive classics. Every month, Cult Film Historian Darrell Buxton introduces some of the best horror films around for Midlands horror afficianados. Read more by clicking here.



There’s also 5 Lamps Film screenings which run every two months and showcase aspiring local filmmakers. As well as those regular events they also host their annual 24 hour film-making challenge at the end of the Derby Film Festival. It sees participants of any experience produce a short film of three minutes over the course of 24 hours before they are screened to the public with awards given to 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. Click here for more




There’s also the Summer Nights outdoor film calendar to thank QUAD for as well. Starting in Derby but now spreading to stately homes and grand venues throughout the UK, they have given the chance for audiences to enjoy the great outdoors for a unique cinematic experience. Read our thoughts on The Forces Awakens screening in the Midlands here.




And to celebrate the last 10 years, QUAD also has two exciting events coming up before the end of 2018.


First up is a free outdoor screening of ‘The Greatest Showman’ at Derby Market Place starting at 8:15pm on 26th September 2018 and will include subtitles for those who are D/deaf or hard of hearing. Attenders are advised to bring their own camping-style chairs to sit on!


If the outside isn’t your cup of tea, then QUAD’s “The Best of 10” ten-film season includes ten titles chosen from each year that the venue has been open and takes place between August and December 2018. Alongside the ten films, QUAD asked the public to vote for their favourite film shown at the venue, which will be shown as the final, eleventh choice.


But we haven’t even mentioned the film clubs, education and quiz nights so please go to https://www.derbyquad.co.uk to get involved in many more creative events.


So Happy Birthday QUAD! With a comprehensive cinematic schedule running throughout the year with events catering for all tastes, ages and backgrounds, we wish all the staff, crew, films and filmmakers all the best for another decade of fantastic film feasts.


Mike Sales



By midlandsmovies, Sep 24 2018 11:23AM



“OCD: Can You Hear It Too?”


Directed by Laura Ray


A new short documentary surrounding Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) comes from Birmingham-born director Laura Ray in “OCD: Can You Hear It Too?” which aims to spread the awareness of this mental illness in the hope to help others across the UK who are suffering in silence.


Laura Ray began directing plays and writing scripts from a very young age, until finally making it her ambition to make a full time career in the future as an aspiring screenwriter. But for nearly 4 years, she has also been trying to educate herself during her own battle with OCD.


Contemplating why she thought the way she did and why she acted in particular ways, Laura approached her film by trying to find other sufferers willing to speak about their experiences.


“I wasn’t there to be in control of it”, explains one sufferer as the film breaks down the various ways OCD can take hold of a person’s life. The film uses interviews to explore the multiple facets of people’s daily lives and even how the beginnings of OCD can start at a young age.


Another person, quoted only as Jess and silhouetted in the dark, shows how sufferers even want to hide what they perceive as a sometimes shameful issue, despite films like Laura’s which attempt to highlight that they need not suffer in silence.


The film also draws attention to the “completely insane” actions (as one person describes it) but the utter awful inability to be able to stop.


Panic. Poison. 24/7. Therapy. False memories. The complexity of OCD is explained by those experiencing the condition and Laura Ray simply lets those in the talking heads sections speak for themselves. With little intervention from the filmmaker, this makes their plight all the more relatable.


The film also depicts how managing to live with the day to day consequences is sometimes the best sufferers can expect. And despite therapy sessions, and even medication, those with OCD take small steps to alleviate their frustrations.


Going further, Laura Ray doesn’t plan for this to be her last OCD documentary either. By next year she aims to create an even deeper, honest account of OCD but this time through the eyes of the people surrounding the person suffering.


But by showing the options for support – friends, doctors, online forums – we see the strength of her current documentary. It provides a tangible plan of action and suggests that by joining a group to share experiences can be incredibly useful.


“Even at your lowest point. It does get easier”. A tender and sympathetic portrayal, Can You Hear It Too doesn’t break any documentary genre tropes but its simple delivery helps make the complex and sensitive issues understandable for any audience.


Mike Sales



By midlandsmovies, Sep 23 2018 05:40PM



Fahrenheit 451 (2018) Dir. Ramin Bahrani


Based on the classic Ray Bradbury dystopian novel, Fahrenheit 451 stars Michael Shannon as officious Fire Captain John Beatty who “protects” society with his clan of authoritarian book-burners.


Michael B. Jordan is idealistic Ministry recruit Guy Montag whose growing doubts question whether destroying art is really for the benefit of its citizens. In a new twist, the book’s ‘Phoenix from the Flames’ allegory is brought to scientific life as bird DNA is actually encoded with the words of elusive texts to preserve them forever.


Sofia Boutella as Clarisse McClellan, Khandi Alexander as Toni Morrison and Lilly Singh as Raven round out a fine cast – and as fine as these heavyweights are, it’s with a sad heart that none of the actors can raise this by-the-numbers (or should that be ‘letters’) adaptation.


Going through the motions with fine sci-fi ideas that fail to truly engage, Fahrenheit 451 could be held as a timely reminder of the growing power of government on art, words (and today’s journalism) and the media.


But rather than a full exploration, we get the York Notes version of a complex novel, water-downed into a brief summary with added 21st Century special effects and a few contemporary anxieties.


5/10


Mike Sales


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