icons-03 icons-02 icons-01 MM Logo

blog

Movie news, reviews, features and more thoughts coming soon...

By midlandsmovies, Jan 11 2018 07:09PM



Birmingham horror festival scares up international movie showcase


A macabre menu of dark delights from around the world will be served up on 28 January, when the Birmingham Horror Group hosts its second annual 'Mini-Movie Marathon'.


The event, in aid of the charity Diabetes UK, is being held at the Victoria pub on John Bright Street and has already attracted spinechilling submissions from film-makers as far afield as India, Brazil, Australia and the Russian Federation -- plus a "fear few" from the West Midlands!


"The horror genre embraces everything from psychological thrillers and bizarre monsters to supernatural terror and twisted comedy," said festival organiser Steve Green, "and we plan to reflect that full range in those films we'll be screening."


The event launches at 6pm and tickets are £3.00, bookable online via Eventbrite by clicking here.


Further details of the event are available via the group's website www.birmingham-horror.co.uk



By midlandsmovies, Dec 30 2017 10:12AM

The Hot List - Midlands Films to Look Out For in 2018


With 2017 nearly at an end Midlands Movies spotlights a number of local projects due for completion in 2018 which have us excited for the region’s filmmaking as we head into the new year. Please check out each of these individual films using the links provided as we highlight 7 of the most anticipated films coming up from the region in the following 12 months.




Songbird by Sophie Black

Described as a ‘modern fantasy for music lovers’ this new film from talented Nottingham director Sophie Black is an exciting new short starring musician Janet Devlin. Songbird comes from multi-award-winning screenwriter Tommy Draper (Stop/Eject, Wasteland) and tells the story of a shy open-mic-night singer called Jennifer, who has her voice stolen by a an ancient creature called The Collector. Also a film for music fans the short is set in the world of the underground music scene and features brand new songs by Janet Devlin herself. As a group of experienced, passionate, award-winning and slightly eccentric filmmakers based in the East Midlands, Songbird will be coming next year with high expectations from filmmakers who have consistently delivered. Catch their latest news at https://twitter.com/sophieblackfilm



The Return of the Ring by Abdulrahman Ugas

This unique take on the world of Tolkien is set right here in the Midlands as new fan-film ‘The Return of the Ring’ is a movie based on Peter Jackson’s critically acclaimed film trilogy ‘The Lord of the Rings’. In a unique twist on the genre, the story has moved its fantasy world to modern day Britain where it will follow a resilient Elf who finds out the Ring has returned and sets out to re-claim its ownership. With the film planned to be released in early 2018, Abdulrahman hopes his exciting new project can bring the tales of Tolkien back to their roots in the West Midlands. Follow here for updates https://twitter.com/AbdulrahmanUgas




Patient Zero by Pathogen Films

After meeting up at a Business networking event, the 4 members of Stratford-upon-Avon’s Pathogen films have combined their talents to begin producing their own film web series. Their forthcoming set of zombie shorts follow a group of survivors who become involved in a deadly game of betrayal in an attempt to stop a maniacal group bent on turning what's left of humanity into mindless mutations. With their first film Patient Zero: Dead at the Gates premiering in Autumn 2017, the crew are now deep into production on the follow up titled “Semper Protegens”. Follow their updates and future crowd-funding campaigns at https://twitter.com/Pathogen_Films





UK Superhero by Rotunda Films

Rotunda Films is an experienced and creative film and video production company who have over fifteen years experience in production and who are now tackling an original superhero series in the region. The Birmingham filmmakers feel the UK deserves its own superheroes as they launch a new project to create a series of films featuring a unique range of characters. With a new selection of local superheroes in their own shared universe, they are starting this ambitious project with their film Mystic Highway, where they will be creating the first characters in this exciting new world. Follow the production here: https://twitter.com/rotundafilms




Brumville by Grant Murphy

Described as a film full of local people and local locations, Birmingham’s Grant Murphy hopes to utilise the West Midlands and Back Country’s pool of talent for his upcoming film Brumville. With filming recently concluded, Grant is not only writer director and producer on the film but will be playing the lead role of Connor as well. With a passion to give local actors more opportunities, the film will show just how bad it can be when friends are mixed up in drugs. The shooting of Brumville began in March 2017 after self-funding and crowd-funding campaigns and you can keep informed of their progress and release plans at https://twitter.com/brumville




The Law of Noir by Duaine Roberts

The Law of Noir started production in September and we cannot wait to see what's in store for this upcoming law-drama story. After the success of Graycon (review here) which saw Duaine Roberts branching out into sci-fi, the Birmingham filmmaker is getting back to basics with his this new drama short. Telling the story of a young law intern who is tasked with defending a client accused of human trafficking, the filmmaker is another trailblazer who is passionate in promoting Birmingham’s acting and production talent. Follow updates at https://twitter.com/CarmaFilmUK




Dead Quiet by Alex Withers

This forthcoming horror drama is another survival film where the last person on earth struggles to stay alive and attempts to hold onto his humanity. Produced in Nottingham the film is written by Dan McGrath who will explore the “importance of the sounds we create and experience as humans in order to connect with each other and the world around us”. Director Alex Withers and a team of talented filmmakers are bringing this unique world to the life on the big screen and wrapped production in August of 2017. Both a “disturbing horror and a bittersweet drama” follow the film here to get updates on its impending release https://www.facebook.com/DeadQuietFilm


Midlands Movies Mike


By midlandsmovies, Nov 20 2017 09:34AM



Sundance Film Festival award winning director comes to Birmingham


A Sundance Film Festival award winning director, who filmed her experience living with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, has come to Birmingham to showcase her critically acclaimed documentary Unrest.


Jennifer Brea’s documentary Unrest which won the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Editing at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was shown at the Mac, as part of the third Screening Rights Film Festival.




Unrest follows her experience living with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis which is more commonly known as chronic fatigue syndrome, and she started documenting her life after showing her doctor a video she recorded on her phone of one of her symptoms.


“I had been trying for eighteen months to explain my experience in words, millions of people have been trying for decades to explain their experiences. Words fail because people translate them to what is familiar to them and there is something about the visual image that is different.”


The documentary also follows the online community of chronic fatigue syndrome patients, and the co-director believes that it was important to give an insight into the daily lives of people from around the world, by bringing a virtual reality experience to the festival.


“I thought if we could take people into our homes and bedrooms into these spaces and moments that they never get to witness, then maybe that would have to start to change the conversation."


“I chose to create a VR experience as I think the kind of internal experience that ME patients go through is very hard to convey.”




One of the Screening Rights Film Festival’s organisers Dr Michele Aaron, said that Unrest: “Tells a personal story that has not been told within mainstream culture before, and it tells of the power of activism in this process.”


Rebekah Smith


@rebekahsmithy


By midlandsmovies, Nov 20 2017 09:20AM



Interview with Screening Rights Film Festival organiser Michelle Aaron


Film festival organiser Dr Michele Aaron gives an insight to Rebekah Smith on what inspired her to set up The Screening Rights Festival and the process in selecting independent films for it.


Now in its third year the week long Screening Rights Film Festival, which was hosted at the Mac in Birmingham, was the most successful yet.


Warwick University lecturer and one of the festival organiser Dr Michele Aaron said she established the festival after spending."In many years writing about the inadequacies of the depiction of human adversity in mainstream film culture as an academic I wanted to do something more immediate and more concrete about it as well. I wanted to bring films to Birmingham that wouldn't normally come.”


This year’s festival was held between 26th October and the 1st November, with the Birmingham film festival priding itself in showcasing independent films from around the world and aims to create debate on the potential of film to affect personal, social and political change.


“The festival is all about creating a platform and space to engage with pressing issues of contemporary society in a different way to mass media, bringing films that 'come from' the people most affected by these issues themselves is crucial", adds Michelle.


This year’s festival featured international critically acclaimed documentaries about online censorship, Syrian refugees and the Aramean genocide, alongside guest panels. She hopes to incorporate British independent films into the programme during future festivals.


“There were some especially powerful events the films chosen are always important and moving but this year we were lucky to have special guests, panels and audiences that took the films' impact to another level.”


“These films do not usually make it to Birmingham but there is definitely an audience for them.”


Check out Screening Rights Festival here https://screeningrights.org/


Rebekah Smith


@rebekahsmithy



By midlandsmovies, Nov 6 2017 02:28PM



Forget Me Not – The inspiration behind a short-film on depression


Screenplay writer, Stacey Duah, gives an insight to Fahima Khatun on what inspired her short-film on depression and her fight on the stigma attached to depression.


Over a period of 12 months, ten film makers and 6 actors/actresses came together, starting May 2016- May 2017, to create a short-film ‘Forget Me Not’, which was shared on YouTube on 2nd October 2017 and had generated over 600 views in two weeks.


It tells the harrowing story of a teenage girl, Sephora, whose suffering from depression, while her best friend Cain – consumed by a life of his own, doesn’t spot the early signs of her depression. Fearful of the stigma attached to mental health, Sephora hides her condition. Isolated and withdrawn from those closest to her, she’s left with only a few options: keep on fighting, alone? Seek help or, find another way out?


The screenplay was written, co-produced and starred by Stacey Duah. Her passion from reading and writing her own stories from a young age grew when moving to study in Birmingham, mixed with the connections she made while at the BFI Academy in 2013 she started making independent films continuously working on and developing her craft.

The film was originally a story the 20-year-old had written at school, during her creative writing class, while googling different kinds of flowers. “I stumbled on the Forget Me Not flower and I was instantly intrigued by its significance and its meaning – it’s a flower of remembrance. I wrote a story about two star-crossed lovers almost like a modern-day Romeo and Juliet adaptation but in my story, only one of them dies – the girl.”


Five years later, after a conversation with her best friend and younger sister, she explored the idea of writing her own screenplay encapsulating depression and mental health, from her own personal experiences and from others she knows.


The screenplay writer who studies at University of Birmingham was facing her own mental health issues while studying. “My first year at university (in Birmingham) was one of the most challenging moments of my entire life. When you go to university you’re on your own – especially if it’s in a city completely different to where you were born and brought up in prior. I no longer had the distraction of family and friends (while at university) – I sort of came face to face with my “demons” and there weren’t really many people to talk to besides my best friend over the phone who studies in the opposite end of the country. Although, I faced many challenges during my first year of university, I also discovered myself.


Despite the film being set and filmed in London, it was a culmination of her Birmingham experiences that inspired and drove the film.


“Birmingham is one of the greenest cities I have been in, and whenever I felt like things were getting too much I’d take frequent walks in the parks nearby just to vent and clear my head. On one occasion, I was going through serious writers’ block for Forget Me Not and decided to take a walk in a nearby park (in Selly Oak). A few strides into the park I came across a patch of flowers – I’m not sure what they’re called but they were a bluish-purplish colour and they reminded me of Forget Me Nots and I was instantly filled with all these different ideas of where I could take the story. For that reason, I’d say that Birmingham – particularly my university experience, was definitely my muse.”

And the film had a main purpose to lessen the stigma attached to mental health. “The films’ purpose was to help tackle mental health amongst young people and try to decrease the stigma, as well as inform my peers about the issue as a whole."


With the help of her producer Tia Philips, production designer Conor Powell and director Riad Ahmed, she finished her script in three months, but it was The Noughts and Crosses trilogy by Malorie Blackman that was the backbone of the portrayal of two protagonists in the film – Sephora and Cain. “Sephora (Stacey Duah) – the main character in Forget Me Not represents the plight of the voiceless in society and for those people who feel as though their voices don’t matter or that they’re all alone.


Cain (Ishmel Bridgeman) and Jenk (Janel Ince) – I talk of the two collectively because they’re sort of a microcosm for society’s ignorance and disbelief when it comes to matters regarding mental health, a lot of the time. We live in a fast-pace world and everyone is so busy doing things that we often miss vital signs, especially when it comes to people in need such as our loved ones. I definitely wanted Cain and Jenk to sort of represent and reflect society’s absent-mindedness regarding mental health and the stigma surrounding it.


Samantha (Molly Wilsher) – one of the nicer girls on Sephora’s doorstep (a later scene in the film), represents hope because there are actually people in society who are advocates for tackling the stigmatization of mental health. Some people do actually care, and I think that Samantha reflects this balance really well.”




With it being a small-scale production Duah took on three different roles, having to face challenges with each role. “Writer – essentially if there’s no writer then there’s no script, and if there’s no script then there’s really no film. So, I felt a huge lot of responsibility on my shoulders, people were counting on me to sit down and write the script and deliver the story in an authentic way".


"As an actress, well, the acting part for me wasn’t too stressful, as I use to act before I got into filmmaking. The most challenging part for me was probably trying to separate my own life and experiences from that of Sephora – the character I was playing. Although Forget Me Not was partly inspired by my own experiences, my goal was to make sure that it wasn’t a replica of my life – because it’s not my life, it is Sephora’s life and her story and she’s a character in her own right".

 

"And finally I’m quite an organised person, so I feel as though producing is something I’m quite good at. I mostly produced in pre-production and post-production (alongside my producer of course) but then I had to stop producing completely, as the director wanted me to focus on getting into character. One of the hardest things was being on set and acting in a scene, seeing something – technical wise and feeling the urge to say something as a “co-producer”, but then remembering that I’m now the actor and that I need to trust my producer and the rest of my team to handle the situation".


Currently in her final year of university, the young screenplay writer has more ideas developing but is now co-writing an extended short film/screenplay called “I’m Fine” with Sanchez Roberts. Another film on mental health but from a different angle and will be much longer – with more “fleshed out” characters and room for character development and exploration.


To see more of her upcoming work follow her on Twitter https://twitter.com/dramastacee or on Instagram @staceyduah



Fahima Khatun

Twitter: @screen_shock


By midlandsmovies, Nov 2 2017 09:23AM


West Midlands short All Bad Things


All Bad Things is a new Midlands short that has been written and directed by Chrissie Harper, from an idea by producer and former Solihull News reporter Steve Green.


The two began collaborating on reports for local channel Big Centre TV (now Made in Birmingham TV) last year, and have since begun developing a raft of drama projects.




This particular film features actor Liam Woon as book agent Mike Daventry who becomes increasingly frustrated when one of his top authors fails to turn up to a business meal. Things turn even stranger when a mysterious young woman (Demelza O’Sullivan) arrives in her place.


Written (and directed) by Chrissie Harper, the short was filmed in Solihull at the Rajnagar International Restaurant, which is soon about to celebrate its 30 year anniversary after years of serving award-winning cuisine.


The shoot involved a team of 18 and restaurant owner Dr. Moula Miah turned up to wish the cast and crew and everyone involved with the production good luck. "The film is set in a high class restaurant, so having the use of the Rajnagar was a dream come true”, says Steve Green.


“Dr Moula Miah and his staff really put themselves out for us, and it was a terrific boost to get their support."




With even more surprises on the menu for Liam Woon's increasingly bewildered agent Mike, the film got its first public screening on Halloween at the Gunmaker’s Arms in Birmingham with more plans in the pipeline!


Watch the film’s trailer on the YouTube link above.


To find out more about the short and the production follow on Twitter here:

https://twitter.com/Network23UK


And please check out the cast and crew on social media at these links

https://twitter.com/ChezChrissie

https://twitter.com/SteveGhostwords

https://twitter.com/lwoon

https://twitter.com/DemelzaO





By midlandsmovies, Nov 1 2017 04:46PM



BAFTA Award winning director comes to Birmingham


Debbie Isitt, the BAFTA-award winning Director of the Nativity! films, and Director of Nativity! The Musical at The REP in Birmingham, will be coming to Midlands this month to discuss her work as part of a Q & A evening.


The acclaimed director will be in conversation about her prolific career with Roger Shannon, Film Professor and former Head of Production at the BFI on 9th November.


Birmingham-born Debbie grew up in nearby Coventry and so is Midlands through and through, but it’s also a great chance to listen and speak to a successful director for local budding filmmakers.


The REP (or to give it its full title, The Birmingham Repertory Theatre) is based in the centre of Birmingham on Broad street and is a leading producer of quality theatre works alongside a whole host of arts-centred partnerships.


With a mission to help the audience “make their own special 'moments' memorable”, the theatre has been going since 1913 when the elegant 464-seat Repertory Theatre in Station Street was built (now known as The Old Rep).



The theatre rapidly became home to one of most exciting repertory theatre companies in the country, helping to launch the careers of an array of great British actors, including Ralph Richardson, Edith Evans and Laurence Olivier.


In 1971 the company moved to Broad Street to a newly built theatre with a stage of epic proportions and an auditorium with no balconies, pillars or boxes. More recently, from 2011 to 2013, the theatre underwent redevelopment as part of the Library of Birmingham project.


Tickets for the night are from just £5.00 and include a glass of wine and Debbie will be talking about her two Christmas comedy films Nativity! and Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger as well as the musical spin-off. Her other works include a Bafta award winning teleplay The Illustrated Mum, the stage play The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband and the feature films Nasty Neighbours and Confetti.




Nativity! was Isitt's third feature film and starred Martin Freeman and became the most successful British independent film of the year. The sequel, and her fourth film, Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger, starred David Tennant, and was an instant box office hit, making twice the amount at the UK box office as the original film. Isitt has now completed the trilogy with Nativity 3: Dude, Where's My Donkey?.

For tickets and further info please click here: https://www.birmingham-rep.co.uk/whats-on/spotlight-on-debbie-isitt.html#event-datesTimes

And for more information on all the events at The Rep please check their official site here:

www.birmingham-rep.co.uk


Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Centenary Square, Broad Street, Birmingham B1 2EP

By midlandsmovies, Oct 30 2017 04:48PM


Graycon (2017) Dir. Duaine Carma Roberts


A young couple who attempt to care for their virus infected daughter opens this brand new sci-fi drama from West Midlands filmmaker Duaine Carma Roberts.


After the young girl’s bloody cough turns worse, not even a pill administered by her father Joe (Andre Pierre) can save the poor child’s life, despite being convinced he has found a possible cure. The couple subsequently play the blame game before the background of the pill becomes a point of contention and although the mother attempts to move on with life, the father still questions why the cure failed.


In a parallel story, we are then introduced to the murky background of the virus and medication and are told that Joe’s friend Jordan (April Nerissa Hudson) is also attempting to save someone she loves. However, Jordan has betrayed murky businessman Ryan (James Edge) in her attempts to save her infected brother and the consequences of her decisions could be fatal to all involved.


As the antagonist Ryan, James Edge channels Tom Hiddleston-levels of evilness in an OTT performance that’s a joy to watch as he threatens more repercussions on the two scientists. Dressed in a trench-coat wardrobe, he delivers a fun role of ticks, stares and menacing hand gestures that balances the more serious dramatic turns from the talented Pierre and Hudson.


Soon a steam-punk time travel “device” called Graycon is introduced that Joe hopes can save his daughter in the past but both he and Jordan are increasingly troubled with the issues in the present. As Ryan tries to track them down he not only wants to get his hands on the device but to halt further development and make himself a rich man from any cure.


On the technical side, a simple piano score is effective and compliments the drama whilst also allowing a suitable level of tension to rise with its repeated musical motifs. If there was just one criticism it would be that the sound mix had a few volume “jumps” and the fighting, although well choreographed, could have utilised some stronger ‘punch’ noise-effects to go along with the brutal visuals – but both these are minor points in a top notch short.


The handheld camerawork maintained a sense of unease and moved in for close-ups when the drama’s intensity exploded into raised voices and fist fights yet it is the strong performances that are the film’s main draw throughout.


Both leads are first rate with Andre Pierre’s intensity as a father searching to correct past mistakes helping to centre the film and April Nerissa Hudson is given emotional scenes as a vulnerable sister trying to do right by her brother. Her poignant style is sensitive and strong and outstanding support also comes in the form of Adaya Henry, Romayah McCalla, Ackeem Gibbs and Nisaro Karim.


Overall, Roberts has provided a tight script with lashings of drama and action to help create an effective time-travel journey. The obligatory bouts of exposition – as are the norm in such sci-fi fare – are kept to a minimum but when they are required, Roberts uses exciting scenes, excellent performances and quirky dialogue delivery to keep things moving when information is being passed on.


A suitable open-to-interpretation ending is the perfect note to conclude the short with, and Graycon confirms that the best stories are ones where an audience can identify with well-rounded characters. And it hugely helps that Roberts has secured such high-quality actors to inhabit these roles. So with all the right elements in place, Graycon is a solid success which consistently delivers a satisfying drama and captures the imagination one moment at a time.


Midlands Movies Mike

RSS Feed twitter