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By midlandsmovies, Nov 13 2017 05:06PM


Loose Cannon (2017) Dir. Howard-Smith


Director Howard Smith presents Loose Cannon, a short film that follows recently discharged soldier Baz Locke (Simon Hawkins) as he struggles to adjust to civilian life.


We first see Baz travelling home on a train, face pressed against the window, calling his former partner Em (Lorren Winwood). The call doesn’t go as planned; Baz is keen to meet up however Em is not pleased to hear from him. The audience can only assume that Baz being in the Army was one of the factors as to why this relationship hasn’t worked.


After Em brushes Baz off on the phone we see the first example of his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) come to the fore. A flashback of his dismissal causes him to lash out at the passenger opposite him. Before he’s even step foot in his hometown the warning signals are everywhere.


Whilst in town we see Baz visit his old friend and former soldier himself Jack (Gary Rogers), who offers advice on how to readjust now out of the army. Jack warns Baz off chasing Em down, saying she’s moved on but Baz is agitated however and bounces an idea off Jack.


Filmed on location around Birmingham, Loose Cannon benefits from this style of shooting as it gives the film a grounded reality. Something the audience can believe and really engross themselves in.


A reporter they both knew from the past might be interested in a story that’s been covered up by the government for years. A spate of suicides at Longmarsh Barracks were never investigated properly, Baz is adamant this was a cover up and teases to know why. And as events spiral out of control for Baz, he attempts to locate Em and expose a government cover up.


Shot and edited by Howard Smith himself, he uses several techniques early on to accompany Hawkins portrayal of a former soldier living with PTSD. An example of this appears early on in the film when on the train, Baz’s memory of being dismissed surges over him. This is edited in a frantic way, sounds are amplified and the colour is awash with a dark grade.


Loose Cannon reminded me of seeing Sly Stallone’s First Blood for the first time. A story about a man who has fought for his country, seen awful things during war, only to be discharged and seen as an unwanted nuisance in a peaceful town. Both Baz and John Rambo have fought for their freedom, only to be let down by their respective governments triggering their PTSD.


Whilst watching Loose Cannon, I made a comment to myself to look up whoever composed the score to see if their material was available online. To my surprise, the director here has used John Debney’s score for Sudden Death, a flawless choice which was used well in all the right place.


Overall Loose Cannon is a well-made 17-minute short film and another welcome addition to Smith’s previous work. Constructively I would like to see this film done as a feature if the chance ever arose so as to expand on the story more and explore the character Baz Locke better and his relationship with Em.


Some of the best feature films began their life as a short so maybe director Howard Smith is onto a winner.


You can watch the full short online on Vimeon here: https://vimeo.com/225168790


Guy Russell

Twitter @BudGuyer

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 09:31AM



Okja (2017) Dir. Bong Joon-ho


After the fantastic Snowpiercer – a train-based sci-fi dystopia that got bogged-down in UK release legal limbo but was our 3rd favourite film of 2014 – the South Korean director returns with an excellent tale of animals and social responsibility.


Bringing along Tilda Swinton from Snowpiecer and adding Paul Dano, Steven Yeun, Lily Collins and Jake Gyllenhaal, the real star(s) of the show are child actress Ahn Seo-hyun and her oversized gene-spliced pig-walrus pet Okja.


Swinton plays Lucy Mirando whose shady corporation are conducting a ‘superpig’ breeding competition around the world and, after many years, select a winner. This happens to be Okja who is based far away in the countryside with Seo-hyun’s Mija. And from frolicking around woods and streams, Bong pulls at the heart-strings from the outset. The two have a chemistry that carries beyond the screen, which is quite the feat given the animal’s CGI rendering, but warm personality shines from both the loveable pet and its protective owner.


The corporation attempts to take Okja to be crowned in New York City but are intercepted by the Animal Liberation Front (led by Dano) who aim to expose the abuse the company inflicts on animals. With truck chase action and a thrilling sequence with Okja causing public destruction in a brief escape, Bong adds excitement and intensity to the film’s moral conflicts. Jake Gyllenhaal plays a mad scientist called Wilcox and steals the show with a pantomime performance as he tests, breeds and tortures poor Okja in horrific scenes made all the more harrowing by his disturbed control freak.


The film questions the meat industry by shining a light on shady practices and slaughter-house gruesomeness and my only gripe that – and as a meat-eater I take full responsibility for my choice – he wears his position so visible on the film’s sleeve that it becomes slightly ‘preachy’ towards its conclusion.


That said, even this old carnivore was made to think about the responsibilities and moral justifications about an industry that prioritises mass culling over individual animal rights. And I think many others will feel that too in a fantastic drama about ethics and culpability. And if you don’t fall for and root for the adorable Okja then you may already be dead inside.


7/10


Midlands Movies Mike


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

By midlandsmovies, Sep 28 2017 08:58AM



The Beguiled (2017) Dir. Sofia Coppola


Based on the novel of the same name, Sofia Coppola was only the second female to win the Best Director Award at Cannes for this film set at a girl’s school in the Deep South during the American Civil War. With only teacher Edwina Morror (Nicole Kidman) and five students left at the school house, they find and take in Colin Farrell’s injured corporal soldier where the the ladies tend to him in a locked room.


Copolla fills her plantation location with lots of moody silences but these later turn to screams as the repressed women deal with the soldier’s attentions. Cleaning Farrell’s wounds in a scene of sexual/religious tension, the film plays with ideas of femininity and sexuality and its natural light gives the movie authenticity but this results in it being under-lit at times. As a chamber piece, it uses the technical staging of Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon by using windows and candles to provide the only in-house lighting, but again, sometimes to a confusingly dark fault.


Critic Tim Robey surmised Barry Lyndon by saying audiences and reviewers railed “against the perceived coldness of Kubrick's style, the film's self-conscious artistry and slow pace” and I’d argue the exact same accusations can be leveled here.


The mesmerising framing shows Copolla's fine artistry and the cast deliver the melodramatic lines with grace but everyone’s done far better historical/literary work elsewhere. Also, the snail’s pacing hindered my own engagement despite Dunst and Farrell’s explosive scenes – which are great but few and far between.


With more drama and conflict, the film does improve in its second half and can be seen as a complimentary (or development) venture to Copolla’s own The Virgin Suicides (1999). The themes and female cast (especially Dunst’s repeat appearance) echo the director’s previous literary foray into a woman-filled and prison-like house.


Measured and controlled, the lack of narrative thrust and extremely long set-up, despite its short runtime of 93 minutes, sadly makes The Beguiled a rather ponderous affair. This is ultimately frustrating given its many positive performances and interesting representations of control, seduction and temptation. Charming but deceiving.


6/10


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Aug 30 2017 10:49AM



Midlands Spotlight – Catharsis


With a successful cast and crew premiere at Nottingham’s Broadway Cinema in August, Midlands Movies discovers more about local short film Catharsis from filmmaker Jay Martin.


Writer/director Jay Martin hails from Mansfield in Nottinghamshire and studied at the Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies in 2015 where he began to develop Catharsis, his directorial debut.


The story follows Sandra (local actress Olivia Newton) who descends into drink and drugs after the loss of a child and the film is the culmination of a year and a half of dedication and commitment from a mostly local cast and crew.



Mark Jarvis (seen in a previous Midlands Movies film series we’ve covered called Let’s Bring Back Sophie) plays Isaac in the film and the regional focus of the movie meant it was made solely in and around greater Nottinghamshire.


“It's difficult to put into words the tremendous amount of love, respect, and gratitude I have for the entire cast and crew”, explains Jay. “A seventeen year old, first-timer, had no business working with such incredible talent!”


He adds, “With no producer on our backs hounding us for deadlines, we took the time to intricately develop every aspect of this film, and I truly believe that you see our love, and attention on screen. Every hardship we faced, we faced as a team”.




Although it is Jay’s first dramatic short, he has been involved with many previous projects which have included music videos ‘ABSORB - #PTFAD’ and ‘The Age of Stella – Lucilla’. And as production came to an end on Catharsis in May 2017, the director began developing his next short film project under the working title 'After Dark'.




Once completed, Catharsis was subsequently first shown at the 'Celebrate Short Film Festival' in Nottingham where not only did it have a tremendous reception, the dramatic short was awarded the converted 'Best Short Film' prize as well as a 'Best Director' win for Jay.


With a trailer soon to be released online and upcoming announcements on festival appearances and general release dates, Catharsis looks one to watch from an exciting and talented young filmmaker.


For more information check the film’s social media and IMDB accounts below:


Website: http://www.jaythefilmguy.com/


Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jaythefilmguy/?hl=en


Twitter: https://twitter.com/jaythefilmguy


IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6509956/?ref_=fn_al_tt_2

By midlandsmovies, Aug 27 2017 04:47PM

The Short Cinema 2017 - Part 2


For Part 1 of The Short Cinema showcase 2017 please click here:

http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/The-Short-Cinema-2017---Part-1/11214523


After a much needed beer break, I headed back into the main screening room for the second part of the excellent Short Cinema 2017 to discover even more great films from the region’s talent...




Ultrasound – Kon-Tiki by Andrew Rutter

This successful music video (and ultimately eventual winner of The Short Cinema 2017 Main Competition) is directed by Andrew Rutter using a track by the group Ultrasound to launch a whirlwind coming of age story mixing surreal visuals with the band’s catchy melodies. Tackling serious subjects of inner conflict – the young protagonist begins on a bike yet behind closed doors dresses in high heels and nail varnish – the film does so in an entertaining way without ever poking fun at the teenager. With a healthy dose of nostalgia, the film’s most successful images are the most strange and dreamlike ones from an “astro” love-making session to personal reflections on a lake. In the end, Rutter has high ambition and more than achieves his aims throughout the video which itself ends on an explosive climax.

Watch the full video here: https://vimeo.com/192961828



A Broken Appointment by Kaleb D’Aguilar

A 3-minute short about same-sex relationships, A Broken Appointment showcases the complicated issues of closeting and hiding feelings in the gay community. Mixing tender and violent emotions, the film condenses a lot into its short run time from the first touching of hands to the complexities faced by a mixed-race gay couple. Dark yet offering a glimpse of optimism, the film’s sensitive narrative is a dramatic slice-of-life exploring marginalised groups in a responsible and delicate manner.

Find out more information here: http://caribbeantalesfestival.com/project/a-broken-appointment/



Girl A by Jess O’Brien

Reviewed by Midlands Movies earlier this year, Girl A still packs a metaphorical and physical punch on a third watch as young filmmaker Jess O’Brien doesn’t flinch from her story of a bully from a broken home. Using strong language and flashes of violence, the solid story and great performances from a teen cast help infuse the film with believability, as we see a troubled pupil lash out at school owing to problems at home. With some great tracking shots and an open ended finale the film is a local success from a strong young filmmaking voice.

Read our full review here: http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Feature-Review---Girl-A/11098121



Vandella Day by John McCourt

Actor Kieron Attwood reappears on our list in this darkly comic short from Leicester filmmaker John McCourt. Alongside Lois Cowley, Attwood plays one of two people holed up in a confined space where we find there is just one bullet left in their gun as they think the unthinkable. With the noise of attackers approaching and with no apparent way out, the gun is raised to their heads but malfunctions at the most inopportune time. The intense 1-minute short sets up its characters, cramped location and desperate motivations in mere seconds and filmmaker McCourt turns the tables when an accident with the firearm leads to less than pleasant consequences. A brief but forceful short, Vandella Day’s in-your-face extremities will hit you like a bullet in the head.

Find out more about Vandella Day here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6483644/fullcredits/



Betty by Jordan Handford

Another film reviewed by us earlier in 2017 is this drama from Jordan Handford about the effects of dementia. Set on a park bench the film slowly pans around Betty’s distant face before she is joined by a man who regales her with a story from his past that connects to her own. A subtle film on a sensitive subject, the story had personal connections to me after my own mother lost her battle against dementia in May of this year. “Betty” tackles the issues with a finely tuned script that is masterly delivered by John Ghent as Eric, who uses the well-written dialogue to capture the spirit and memories of the past whilst acknowledging the difficulties of the present.

Read our full review of Betty here: http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Midlands-Film-Review---Betty/11160736




The Last Drop by Sascha Zimmermann

Written by Nottingham-based screenwriter Tommy Draper, this new short had a true international flavour having been made in Germany. Der Letzte Tropfen (The Last Drop) concerns itself with a self-help group who are experiencing problems with drink dependency with some attendees less than pleased with being there. The group’s advisor tries to maintain some civility as each member explains (or doesn’t) the problems with their addiction. As a first-time stranger joins the group the film goes into overdrive as it switches genres right before our eyes in a spectacular but satisfying “rug-pull”. With a tremendous script and brilliant turns by the German cast, the film is a superb collaborative effort that audiences can get their teeth into.

Find out more here: http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Midlands-Spotlight---Nottingham-writer-Tommy-Draper-heads-to-Germany/11200733



The Inuring by James Hughes

With another tale this evening of childhood abuse, The Inuring looks at a teen who is a victim of bullying who confronts a sister about their past. An astonishing Emily Haigh plays troubled teen Aleish who has been bullied yet keeps many private thoughts to herself. Locking herself in a room, her sister (Sarine Sofair as Claudette) places herself on the other side of the door in an attempt to get her sibling to talk. Haigh’s performance shows the systematic breakdown of a put-upon victim and during their awkward interactions, dark secrets of the past are revealed which raises the stakes in their important conversations. With a bleak and gloomy tone and great cinematography the film is not for the faint of heart but winning performances make this short a satisfying drama of angst, regret and childhood ruin.

For more info click here: http://www.theinuring.com




Retrograde by Eve Wills-Wilson

This 10 minute experimental film uses varying film stock and images to cover issues of the past, present and future as well as celestial bodies and the movement of the oceans. The archive sound drones in the background as an abstract series of repeating motifs are shown. Not to my personal tastes – the backwards clock being a cliché crime – the film nonetheless has its roots in contemporary art and would suit an installation in a modern gallery where its ethereal imagery could be studied and discussed. With lots of random footage and film speeds, I would liken the short to a visual version of The Beatles’ “Revolution No. 9” – i.e. some will consider it a disorganised collage whilst others will see intellectual gifts within. Take your pick.

Watch the short here: https://vimeo.com/200670585




Bless You by Daryl Grizzle

Three videogame-playing friends sit in a front room in this short from Daryl Grizzle who uses the situation to discuss the history of one of the most used phrases of all time. As one of the pals does a particularly large sneeze, his friend gives him a courteous “bless you” before each of them in turn explains their version of the origins of the custom. From the plague and saving angels to keeping the devil at bay, the trio of chums lull the audience into a false sense of security with their banter before a jump-scare filled conclusion. Moving from a lightweight discussion to a darker ending the short is an off-kilter blessing in disguise.

Find out more info here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6867424/




Loyal to War by Parang Khezri

Made by award-winning Iranian filmmaker Parang Khezri, Loyal to War was one of the shortest and strangest films of the night. With middle-eastern imagery and a boy looking into a mirror (actually cleverly played by two actors through a frame), the film is a surreal look at nature and life. With some filming shot backwards and the images of petals and mirrors, the short asked the audience to reflect on its ideas but provides very little context as to meaning. An intriguing visual statement, the film is baffling in many ways but portrays a very mysterious aura and an enigmatic puzzle to study long after it ended.

Catch Parang’s previous 2010 short TABU: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zke-4oogD60




Upgrade by Mike Doxford

The final film of the night is another Random Acts funded project called Upgrade, where we are shown a night watchman who heads into a building to see a number of random youths hooked up to different technology. This tech seems forbidden, hence the security, but we notice they are listening to old headphones and playing old handheld video-games. The guard then presses play on an vintage tape recorder which plays some funky brass-filled salsa music. After a bit of head nodding the guard (played well by James Bartholomew) gets “into the groove” and begins dancing around the building. Linking the physical dance with the analogue tape player – the film presents a tangible world which stands in stark opposition to the passivity of modern day digital technology.

Find out more here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6394702/


In conclusion, with 22 varied films from different genres this year seemed more than just a showcase of film but acknowledged the huge work done by the community. In these films’ reflection and representation of different stories and narratives, the emphasis was on art and in the face of funding issues throughout the industry it was even more impressive to see the quality on show at the festival.


For more info on the Short Cinema please click here and a big thank you to all the organisers including the magnificent Alexzandra Jackson for such a tremendous 4-day event.


Midlands Movies Mike


Below are some photos from the evening.




By midlandsmovies, Aug 27 2017 01:12PM



The Short Cinema 2017 - Part 1


It comes around so quickly! Last night was another hugely successful showcase of regional talent as the final Main Competition night was held for The Short Cinema 2017. A full screening room at Leicester's Phoenix Square Independent Cinema were hugely receptive to a whole host of shorts, dramas, comedies and more from the best filmmakers in the area. With the largest programme of films I've seen yet, this show was spread over two screening sessions so I headed down to catch the judge's best films chosen from this year's Short Cinema entrants.


(Click here for part 2)




Multi Story by Kieran Chauhan

Given the big task of opening the evening, Kieran Chauhan had a huge job on his hands being the first film of the night but the bar was set high with his dark drama Multi Story. Set mostly in an eerie car park, the phrase “What Brings You Here?” is echoed throughout as the audience are encouraged to ask the same question of the protagonist. A car-park purgatory of sorts, a man investigates his wife's death but with surreal twists and turns. Its imagery echoes everything from the elevator from Inception to the visions of Jacob’s Ladder and the short is great at unsettling the audience. Adrian Bouchet is superb as the haunted detective whilst Izabella Malewska is feisty and mysterious in an excellent support role with director Chauhan demonstrating his outstanding eye for troubling images and peculiar sequences.

Find out more here: http://kieranchauhan.com/sample-page/shortfilms



Headspace by Stuart Peters

With influences from Spike Jonze’s sweeping camerawork in his “Weapon of Choice” and “Kenzo World” dance-music videos, this short showcases the dance talents of Danni Spooner. Contrasting the sunny tap dancing around Leicester’s Castle Park with a Gene Kelly-esque tit-for-tat dance off with her own spotlighted shadow, the short encapsulates the dreamy world of the dancer and accents all the right beats in its attempts to ‘click’ with the audience.

Watch the short here: https://vimeo.com/groups/459498/videos/213422967




The Last Barman on Earth by Brian McDowell

Brian McDowell’s film of two heavily armed survivors of a post-apocalyptic earth who head into a bar was certainly a highlight from the evening. Mixing great special effects with a tongue-in-cheek steampunk tone, the two leads’ banter contrasts with the appearance of straight-talking android barman. Channelling Martin Sheen in Passengers and a huge dose of Michael Fassbender’s ‘David’ in Prometheus, the star is Kieron Attwood whose electronic movements are a perfect physical manifestation of a machine. The monotone automaton has aims as dark as Ash in Alien and the film concludes with a suitably twisted ending. A satisfying sci-fi success.

Watch the short here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBV6VENAQpQ



The Past Whispers by Jane Hearst

A short which tackles the sensitive subject of sexual abuse and bullying was not the last of the night but this film highlighted the struggles of an abuse survivor as well as the dark memories that continue to haunt victims. The film used a great concept of “blacking out” the perpetrator as a way of trying to forget past trauma but the use of personal photos were clear that the acts were committed by a close family member. The female lead has her memories collated in what initially looks like a fun scrapbook but the shadow of her tormentor burdens her thoughts throughout. An intriguing and delicate story, the film was created through the “First Acts” short programme in partnership with Rural Media – a grouping which again would appear more on the night.

Find out more here: http://randomacts.channel4.com/post/162079637751/the-past-whispers-by-jane-hearst-a-survivor-of



Hands by Michael Lane

An experimental film in which 4 hands are shown against a black backdrop is an arty conceptualisation of a number of themes which are open to interpretation in Michael Lane’s “Hands”. The fleshy appendages are shown in stark contrast to the dark background and the movement of digits hinted upon everything from communication, birth, blooming flowers and togetherness. With great music from Vladimir Konstantinov, Hands is not for everyone as the film’s abstractness may turn off some viewers but its collaborative creation encapsulates the minimalist words seen on screen at the end: A Dance. A Meditation. Hope.


Recovery by Daniel Purse

One of the first straight ahead (or so it seems) dramas of the night, Daniel Purse’s “Recovery” sets itself up as a tale of drunk driving and regret. However a literal left-turn (or was it right?) gives the short much more depth than at first glance. As a mysterious figure watches a grave, the film is superb at setting up a well-known narrative only to switch focus towards its conclusion. With the ringing of a red phone box and a symbolic red book, all signs point towards a bloody ending but a hint of time-travel (believe it or not) help turn a seen-it-before story into something much more intriguing.

Find out more about Recover at http://danielpurse.com/recovery/




Si by Steve George, Ryan Sibanda

A film by Steve George, Ryan Sibanda, Joshua Baggott and LJ Greenwood from the University of Wolverhampton, “Si” was nominated for the Undergraduate Short Feature award at the RTS Student Television Awards 2017. The short is an amazing comedic sketch from one of the strangest points-of-view this reviewer has ever seen. Telling the story in voiceover, the “star” of the film is a ‘Caution: Wet Floor” sign, nicknamed “Si”. Yes, that’s correct. This high-concept idea is delivered with huge laughs and an understated voiceover reminiscent of Ralph Brown’s Del Preston from Wayne’s World 2 (or Danny in Withnail & I if you prefer). Witnessing office romances, terrible toilet incidents and more, the sign hilariously comments on the various events and the short won the audience over from the outset. Si is a winning demonstration of how a great concept, executed well, can result in an even greater success for any short filmmaker.

Watch the short here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpbjApLefgI




FAG by Danni Spooner

An abstract concept of a film, FAG is described as a “rebellious reflection on the cis-gendered society we exist in”. With three individuals shown at the start from the feet up, FAG plays around with stereotypes, expectations and political correctness. The high heels mixed with masculine “marching” mixes gender concepts and as the short progresses, there are tasteful shots of stubble, breasts and smoking – again, combining aspects of what the audience may expect from male or female bodies. With an inherent playfulness, the film brings up important issues but does so in a fun, (partially) explicit yet no-nonsense way that is accessible for all.

Watch the short here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REpNwEOYUys




The Gift by John Quarrell

Husband Michael arrives at the posh residence of a call girl with embarrassment and trepidation in this dramatic film from John Quarrell. Yet, initial thoughts of a cheating spouse are put aside when it’s revealed this is part of a ‘gift’ provided by Michael’s wife, who is debilitated by Multiple Sclerosis. Gregory Finnegan delivers a great performance as he weighs the moral quandary he’s facing whilst Natasha Pring as his disabled wife shows the daily struggles she faces. All red-dress and sly glances, Alex Childs is amazing as she delivers a sultry performance as the call girl who gives depth to what could have been a straight forward supporting role in the film. With 3 strong actors delivering minimalist but thoroughly satisfying dialogue, The Gift gave its audience a superb present of extraordinary pleasures.

Find out more about The Gift here: https://www.johnquarrell.com/




My Jedi Powers by Rhys Davies

A modest little short from Leicester filmmaker Rhys Davies, My Jedi Powers continues with the themes from the filmmaker’s previous efforts embracing family connections between young and old generations. In this Star-Wars influenced film, a boy (in a Stormtrooper outfit) and his grandmother (brilliantly attired Audrey Ardington as Darth Vader) are attempting to get to the cinema but are beset by unforeseen ‘forces’ including a broken-down car. What a piece of junk! The two connect over talk of “Rebels” and, with the help of an old man, continue their adventure and cross rural rivers to get to the bus stop. With their new hope ultimately dashed as the bus fails to arrive, the short ends on a high with their journey itself being celebrated as a success. And again, My Jedi Powers shows how director Davies uses his masterful skill to tackle the quaint and peculiar hobbies that bring families together.

Find out more here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6225146/




Barfly by Mike Yeoman

“Mike Yeoman walks into a bar”. Barfly is a short but sweet sketch from Mike Yeoman and his FlipYou comedy collective and takes the age-old “bar joke” format and twists it with a swift punch-line. Less than a minute long, it continues Yeoman’s quick and funny Fast Show-paced skits that cut out the fat for big dollops of sharp laughs. Mixing the amusing with the absurd, the film left the audience in high spirits as the break approached and showed the group’s talent for well-observed, yet intelligently silly, humour.

Follow updates from Flip You comedy here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCD8Slh-Kc2LHWcjC0h8-fuA


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Midlands Movies Mike

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