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By midlandsmovies, Jun 3 2017 11:04PM

Shaun Barker: One More Time (2017)

Dir. Ashley Carter

Big River Pictures

“Worst team in Premiership history” says actor Jack O’Connell as he introduces us to this football documentary which follows Derby County Football Club player Shaun Barker.

O’Connell himself is a Derby-born success story seen in This Is England, ’71 and Money Monster and he shows his own local passions for Derby FC which matches the other interviewees featured in this sporting documentary.

The film follows the up and down career of Shaun Barker, a professional footballer who was involved in a serious collision with Nottingham Forest striker Marcus Tudgay and Derby goalkeeper Frank Fielding.

One of the strongest aspects of the documentary is the focus on the local. The story is intrinsically entwined with the area as Barker was born in the Midlands, played for Derby and his injury occurred during a match with a local rival. Yet it is also the local community that rallies around to support Shaun.

Ruled out for the remainder of the season with a dislocated kneecap, the problem had “career threatening” written all over it and Barker faced an agonising 16-month recovery from injury.

Barker used this support to help him with his lengthy period of serious rehabilitation even just to get walking again – which involved metal pins in his leg and many setbacks along the journey.

The documentary interviews a number of past football coaches, managers and players as well as more personal family members and technical staff as they throw their support behind Shaun who was still struggling to run even after 18 months.

Through periods of depression, Barker talks candidly about his own struggles to the camera and with injuries and time becoming an issue, Barker speaks openly about his doubts and the effect on his health, his mind and the fallout on his family.

Technical wise, the documentary uses an almost constant stream of interviews and voiceover without narration. This gives it a more personal feel as we only hear the stories from Shaun and those around him.

However, I found the constant slide-guitar and country-rock music a bit off-putting. Sometimes overpowering the audio from the interviews, it didn’t feel that it was a particularly good fit for the topic either. A few more different styles of music – like the switch to the Stone Roses’ “I am the Resurrection” towards the film’s conclusion – would have helped with the pacing and giving each part of Barker’s life a different tone.

That said, the story provides enough positive moments to capture the positivity of Shaun and his endless determination. Derby’s passionate fan base are also well represented and despite their absence from the top league, the full stadiums and community support for the club and its players shines through.

Barker finally rejoins training for Derby before a testimonial game leads to a move to the nearby Burton Albion team where he is allowed an opportunity to play again – this time against his former club – as a last minute substitution.

Midlands football fans will lap up the details of the documentary but passing fans may find the 2-hour run time as lengthy as Barker’s rehabilitation. Jokes aside though, I am sure most will appreciate the inspiring tale of an individual’s personal journey to overcome seemingly insurmountable barriers. Even now his legacy remains with his own charity being set up to help those in a similar position, and so the film ultimately rewards those who stick with it and provides a comprehensive overview of a local hero. Taking the documentary full circle, the worst team 'ever' beginning, concludes with the most satisfying happy ending anyone could ask for.

Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, May 25 2017 12:34PM

Family Portrait (2017)

Directed by Kelly Holmes

From Derbyshire filmmaker Kelly Holmes comes this short 14 minute film about time, inheritance and the changing dynamics in a family who have entered a precarious position.

Opening on a zoetrope of a horse as well as seeing a woman (Line of Duty’s Allison McKenzie as Margaret) reticent to sign a legal document, Family Portrait throws us straight into a world of upper-crust Britishness after the loss of her husband.

Filmed in a beautiful blue hue, the film has a gorgeous look of an older era with great costumes and the old stately home location carrying the ghosts of the past in its rooms and furniture.

After the death of said father, Margaret wants her daughter (In Plain Sight’s Kate McLaughlin as Louise) to maintain control of the family affairs whilst at the same time, the whole family have to tolerate the rigmarole of a family portrait.

The family surprisingly include the corpse of the father into the photograph, with the irony of the necessary “stillness” of the archaic process not lost on the film’s creators – “It would look more real”, says the photographer as he asks the family to pose in certain ways around the cadaver.

The dark tone of the screenplay by Nils Gustenhofen is sparse but gets straight to the major points and themes of the piece and allows enough ambiguity about death, possibly murder, and the future without explicitly stating in the dialogue. In addition, the score is at times gentle AND intense which gives a sense of dread as the story unfolds. This emotional music is expanded upon with ticking clocks and echoing footsteps which again show the passing of time and movement.

Time, image and movement are therefore the big themes Holmes has brought to the forefront throughout, with the rattling zoetrope alone emphasising the illusion of motion alongside the fixed nature of the images.

In summary, Family Portrait is a fantastic powerful short that captures the images of life from a bygone period. The film works on many levels and even displays its own themes via a sequence of images which show the progressive phases of motion during a family’s attempt to “move on”.

Midlands Movies Mike

For more information about Kelly Holmes and her films please go to www.kellyholmesdirector.com

By midlandsmovies, May 23 2017 09:59PM

Derby QUAD announce new Patron

A new festival Patron have been announced following the fourth Derby Film Festival, which ran at QUAD Derby from 28th April to 7th May. The ten-day festival included sell-out events, special guests and film previews from well know, lesser known, local and international film-makers.

DFF Film Previews included Oscar nominated animation My Life As A Courgette, war epic Fires On The Plain, vibrant teen-drama Spaceship, sumptuous animation The Red Turtle, family drama After The Storm, Finnish deadpan comedy The Other Side Of Hope, the new documentary David Lynch: The Art Life and Mindhorn a surreal comedy starring The Mighty Boosh’s Julian Barratt and featuring Steve Coogan, Simon Callow and Kenneth Branagh.

DFF Special events included The Phantom Of The Opera screening with live organ accompaniment at Derby Cathedral as well as Special Guests Michael Jayston, Alan J.W. Bell, Norman J. Warren, David McGillivray, Lesley Megahey and M. R Carey.

One of the sell-out events, which closed the festival on Sunday 7th May, was A Tribute To Sir John Hurt. Derbyshire actor Sir John Hurt was a Patron of QUAD since it opened in 2008 and Sir John’s widow Anwen Hurt came to QUAD and took part in a moving Q & A with Tony Earnshaw, discussing the actor’s extensive career and links to Derbyshire.

A film-reel of highlights of Sir John’s film career was followed by a premiere screening of The Journey (12A), which featured one of Sir John’s final performances.

QUAD’s Cinema One was renamed Sir John Hurt Cinema at the event and Anwen Hurt has announced she is to become Derby Film Festival’s Patron.

Adam Buss QUAD CEO and Derby Film Festival Director said “Once again we were delighted by the reactions of audiences to some of the key events and film screenings at Derby Film Festival. The brilliant Derby Cathedral played host to the incredibly atmospheric live musical accompaniment to Phantom of the Opera".

"Our tribute event to Sir John Hurt which included contributions by his widow Anwen, was on one of the most touching we have ever hosted. Anwen Hurt has agreed to be joint patron of Derby Film Festival with our existing patron David Morrissey, both of whom are committed supporters of helping us bring the best in cinema and events to Derby.”

The festival will return in 2018, full details will be found on http://derbyfilmfestival.co.uk

By midlandsmovies, May 7 2017 09:21PM

Midlands Spotlight - The Wasteland

Midlands Movies catches up with Stuart Wheeldon and his new film The Wasteland which is a modern-day mystery thriller scheduled to be shot in the Derbyshire Dales in July 2017.

Production company Nine Ladies Film launches into their new project The Wasteland which follows the journey of Laurence, a loner with a hidden past, who arrives in a small village on the offer of work from a local farmer named Frank.

As he takes the job of rebuilding a field boundary stonewall, Laurence becomes intrigued with the mysterious figure of Holly, the wife of Frank. Her own troubles both with depression and possible mental domestic abuse, lead Laurence on a new journey which he may or may not be happy to be on.

The film is written and directed by Stuart Wheeldon who is a Wirksworth (Derbyshire) based filmmaker and he is joined by Nick John Whittle as producer.

The film itself stars Paul Dewdney, a London based actor who has won the 'Best Supporting Actor' at the Long Island Film Forum for his role in 'Crossroads'. More recently the actor has also won the 2016 'Best Actor' award for the lead role in 'The Inquiry' at the Burning Reel film festival. He is also up for nomination for Best Actor at the upcoming Nice International Film Festival.

Also in the film is Johanna Stanton who has recently played the lead in feature film ‘Injustice’ – a hard-hitting thriller. Johanna has also just played Ruth Ellis in the docu-drama ‘Inside’ recently screened on Channel 5 and next up she will be filming the comedy series 'King Of The Gym'.

Completing the main cast is Bern Deegan, an Irish actor whose experience spans from feature film, award-winning short films and touring theatre. Bern plays the lead role of 'Peter Nash' in Big Ideas Films ‘Point of No Return’ which also stars Paul Ronan, Don Wycherley and Steven Berkoff. The film was directed by Kevin Glynn and is currently in post-production and Bern has appeared in the films local Midlands films ‘In Limbo’ and ‘The Telephone’ as well.

The Wasteland will feature original music by Michael Walters who is the founder and Director at Storm Force Winds. Michael's catalogue of concert music is published globally and he has been fortunate to receive three Royal Premieres (Regius Adventum 2006, Centuries 2010, Viginti 2014).

His famous music has also been broadcast on the BBC Radio 3 Concert Series (Zygonic De/regeneration 2012, Seven Minutes of Contrarian Zygonicity 2013) and this year, Michael has joined the emerging talent roster at acclaimed Film and TV composer agency SMA Talent.

With such an acclaimed cast and crew, the film gets underway with a crowd-funding campaign launching in May and more details of which can be found at the film’s official website here: www.wastelandshortfilm.com

Follow updates and news at the film’s social media page on Facebook www.facebook.com/thewastelandshortfilm.com

By midlandsmovies, Mar 25 2016 12:01PM

Derby Film Festival 2016

The third edition of Derby Film Festival arrives in just over a month with another exciting full festival line up for the region. From April 29th to May 8th Derby Quad will be bringing ten days of brilliant preview screenings and guest events as well hosting fantastic one-off events at Derby Cathedral and Derby Museum.

A small number of highlights are picked out below. Please take a look at the full festival line up on the website at: www.derbyfilmfestival.co.uk


Florence Foster Jenkins (Meryl Streep) is a New York heiress who has a single dream, to become a famous opera singer, and is not going to let a small matter like her terrible voice stand in her way. Director Stephen Frears (Philomena, The Queen) brings a lightness of touch to this true life tale of perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds.


As part of this year's thematic strand of 'Journeys' the DFF present a screening of a classic romantic comedy. This screening takes place at Derby Museum where the exhibition Joseph Wright And The Lure Of Italy, running March 19th to June 12th, looks at a nation that has long been a place of artistic pilgrimage.


The atmospheric Derby Cathedral provides the setting for this timeless Cathedral film, famous for Lon Chaney’s classic performance as Quasimodo – the deaf, half-blind bellringer of the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Live accompaniment for this special screening will be provided by Donald Mackenzie, organist of the Odeon, Leicester Square, who will be playing Derby Cathedral’s 1938 Compton organ.

MUSTANG (15) - PREVIEW Sun. 1st May 6:00pm & Mon. 2nd May 8:15pm

In a remote Turkish village Lale and her four sisters are walking home from school, playing innocently with some boys. Their conduct is viewed as scandalous by the village elders and they are confined to their home whilst their grandmother starts to arrange their marriages. The five girls, who share a common passion for freedom, resist and find new ways of asserting their independence. First time director Deniz Gamze Ergüven drew upon her own adolescent experiences for this much-lauded drama which was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Oscars.


Simon Callow made his cinema debut in 1984 in the critically acclaimed Oscar winner Amadeus. He was then BAFTA nominated for his role in A Room With A View and is now in the fourth decade of a hugely successful career that has taken in appearances in some very popular films including Four Weddings And A Funeral and Shakespeare In Love.

FANTASTIQ 6th May to 8th May

The Fantastiq Festival Of Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror returns for Derby Film Festival's second weekend. This year's Fantastiq Guest Of Honour will be actress Barbara Shelley who became known as "The First Lady Of British Horror" in the 1960s after appearances in films including Dracula: Prince Of Darkness, Quatermass And The Pit and The Gorgon. Fantastiq will also feature fantastic retrospective screenings as well as previews of great genre movies including Intruders (15), The Call Up (15). Green Room (18).


Festival Pass: £80 - Allows entry to all events across the full ten days of the festival

Weekend Pass: £50 - Allows entry to all events at the festival Friday April 29th to (Bank Holiday) Monday May 2nd.

Fantastiq Pass: £50 - Allows entry to all Fantastiq and Derby Film Festival events Friday May 6th to Sunday May 8th

By midlandsmovies, Feb 5 2016 08:00PM

In Limbo (2016) Directed by Stuart Wheeldon

Nine Ladies Film

Shot around Derbyshire in the Summer of 2015, this is the first feature from writer/director Stuart Wheeldon and is a dramatic horror story which covers a local legend of the 'black eyed children'. The film begins with a spooky monochrome palette as an unknown girl is followed by a hooded brood and Wheeldon takes these initial point of view shots and cross-cuts them with a lecturer who fills in some back-story in an attempt to explain this urban myth.

He tells how the Black Eyed Children (or BECs for short) are a horrific manifestation of a dream-like limbo and the black and white cinematography showcases the darkness that is about to unfold. Subsequently we cut to a car where Victoria (Rebekah Bowman) attempts to explain her dream to a couple of friends Sarah and Jake (Rachel Prince and Bernard Deegan) before the group of three decide to enter the nearby woods. It is here I noticed a suitably first rate and chilling score which combined an eerie mixture of melancholic pianos with tension-building strings.

The story edits between this adventure and the “lecturer” (Nigel Barber as Bill Parks) who is trying to answer a question about how these beings manifest themselves. Switching back to the group, the traditional horror trope of lost mobile phones occurs (also recently seen in local film Survival Instinct) as they trek into the unknown and are unable to make contact with anyone for help.

The idea of the ‘unknown’ is a running theme through the movie as the cross-cutting attempts to create a mysterious narrative as each sequence tries to illuminate the one previously as we delve deeper into the world of the woods.

However, in spite of its good intentions the film does somewhat force the viewer to stick out for the entire duration until the very end as many of the sequences do not make a whole lot of sense without the context of the film’s conclusion.

Some great shots help keep the film interesting with the inclusion of peculiar landscapes where rock formations help illuminate this strange rural experience. The filmmakers have captured huge valleys and chasms to show the confusion of characters as their mystified minds try to make sense of the dream-like world.

Despite these impressive aerial shots atop cliff faces, the film becomes more perplexing as the stories of the group splitting up and rambling in forests start to frustratingly mix up. The disused railways track attempt to steer the protagonists back to familiar paths but maybe not so much the audience.

The rural locations are great as Jake and co stumble through branches, fields and small rivers but I was bamboozled by the story which got a bit lost amongst its subject matter. Although viewers do not need everything spelt out, some more information about motivations and why they were heading to these puzzling locations would have been enlightening for the viewer and created further engagement with the feature's abstract ideas.

Without wanting to spoil the film’s ending, the movie comes full circle by hinting heavily on a link between dreams and being ‘in limbo’ but I found it frustrating as the film has some great visuals and ideas but fails to bring them to a cohesive story. The dream allegory is a tricky balancing act so the audience doesn’t feel cheated and In Limbo walks a very fine line with this narrative device.

That said, with an accomplished cast, great cinematography and a focus on the local rather than the sensational, In Limbo is a multifaceted terror that combines nightmares and visions in an effort to hypnotise the audience.

Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Jan 29 2016 01:28PM

Feature Review – Crossing Paths (2016)

Directed by Ben Bloore

Derby filmmaker Ben Bloore has released a new dramatic short called Crossing Paths which has taken a year of hard work to make and will soon be premiering in the Midlands this Spring. At seven minutes, the short is brief but packs a powerful punch in an ambiguous tale of tragedy, trauma and grief.

The film opens on a bright summer day with interspersed shots of spider webs on branches and ducks in a pond showing a vast array of life and energy in this environment before bringing focus to a solitary lady on a wooden bench.

This is Alison (played by Michelle Darkin-Price) and she waits there for a beat before being joined by a mysterious suited man who asks if the seat next to her is taken. Perhaps offering a new dawn to Alison, the man says he’s there to help. This enigmatic opening sets up the intrigue about how these two came together and there is some brilliantly gorgeous cinematography in the film. The summer trees pop from the screen in glorious greens as the film cleverly cuts between its stories using smart dolly shots and camera moves by Neil Oseman.

We cut to from this to an ill woman called Lorraine (played by Tina Harris) who is bed bound and refuses her morning dose of pills. The scene begins with curtains opening to again reveal luminous sunlight – echoing the brightness of the opening and suggesting a positivity at odds with the heart-breaking circumstances. Here we see the man from the park (the character ‘Matthew’ played delicately by Phil Molloy) as a frustrated husband faced with the pain of a loved one.

Although back in the ‘present’ Matthew claims it’s “never too late”, director Bloore gets across a sad inevitability through his characters’ dialogue and the sensitive gaps between the dialogue.

Crossing Paths continues with these back stories as it cuts again but this time to a violent encounter. A pregnant woman (Alison again) is shown being beaten to the ground by her partner Sean (played by Mark Tunstall) before running from her house and into trouble. Here the film begins to hint upon past lives bringing us to the same points in our journeys as well as some figurative and literal representations of the human spirit.

Bloore ‘suggests’ more than he explains and the short is all the better because of it. Scenes are brief but to the point with an excellent use of colour and costume reflecting the characters’ state of mind at the time. Themes are repeated and echo throughout thus giving the film a circular nature but also a hope of positivity which fights the damaging events shown on screen.

Mourning their losses, a melancholic sense of despair permeates the short but even the briefest of smiles suggests how the soul may move on. The film ends on a haunting guitar ballad with an outro track that is a tender and strangely prescient nod to the film’s emotive issues (“Love Is a Deadly Thing” by Annabelle Bartram).

Written by Ben Fowkes, the film is emotional and poignant and does not provide a definitive answer as to why or how these two traverse but Bloore has criss-crossed his regretful stories with fine editing to show a great but brief narrative of intersecting life-cycles.


Midlands Movies Mike

Crossing Paths is having its premiere on 26th March at 11:00am – 12:00pm on screen 4 at the Broadway Cinema in Nottingham. For information about the screening check the event’s Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1530286923938232/

The Broadway Cinema is at 14-18 Broad Street, NG1 3AL Nottingham, Midlands and the film is followed by Q & As with the cast and director.

By midlandsmovies, Jan 2 2016 06:39PM

Midlands Movies Mike finds out about In Limbo, the new short film from Nine Ladies Film.

Shot in Wirksworth in July 2015, In Limbo stars such well known actors as Nigel Barber (Mission: Impossible 5 and Spectre) Bern Deegan, Rebekah Bowman and Rachel Prince. The story itself focuses on three friends who decide to go away for the weekend but none of them count on encountering the urban myth that is the Black Eyed Children.

Their dreams are invaded but they fight to save not only their physical bodies – which have been frozen in a trancelike state – but also their souls that wander alone trapped In Limbo. The film is written and directed by Stuart Wheeldon, who is based in Wirksworth (in Derbyshire) and he is joined by Director of Photography Geraint Owen. The film features music from local bands Blue Wallpaper Inc who play a mix of acoustic and funk fusion as well as Frank – an indie band signed to Soundhub records.

The film played at The Northern Light Cinema on the 4th 5th and 6th of October and accompanying those screenings was a 30 minute documentary about the making of the film by Chris Lobley. Followed by a questions and answers session the nights were a great success and brought attention to both the film and this independent boutique cinema that is tucked away in the Derbyshire Dales. www.thenorthernlightcinema.co.uk

The film In Limbo is the first film in a series by Nine Ladies Film with the company already having a second film scheduled for filming in January 2016. This film, “Visitant”, will be a horror film which explores the poltergeist hauntings in a rural townhouse. The film promises to show a newly married couple that move into an inherited house that are forced to battle their own personal demons as well as the Visitant that inhabits the house. “The film draws from real life experiences and promises to be both a narrative and visually challenging film”, says Stuart Wheeldon

Visitant will once again be written and directed by Stuart also and he is joined by the same production crew that worked on In Limbo. More information can be found about both films at www.nineladiesfilm.com

The trailer for In Limbo can be seen below:

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