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By midlandsmovies, Sep 17 2017 10:54PM



Midlands Professional - Film Event Organiser John Currie


Midlands Movies speaks to event manager and festival organiser John Currie as part of our Midlands ‘Professional’ series. In this latest feature John talks to us about his experience and career arranging one of the best festivals in the Midlands film calendar - the Beeston Film Festival.


At age 53 and the father of 5, Beeston Film Festival director John Currie is originally from Liverpool but has lived in Beeston now for the best part of 20 years and (in his words) now very much regards it as his home. Firstly, alongside raising his children, John explains that far from being solely local, his festival is now both local AND global with entries from 37 different countries.


“At our last event we ended up screening films from 22 countries and we have an award panel from America, Africa, Asia and Europe! The point of the festival is to connect, to reach out and bring global stories to Beeston and in return celebrate filmmakers and honour them with B’Oscars”.


Inspired to set up the BFF when he attended the Dublin International Short Film and Music Festival, John was there for the screening of the first film he produced called ‘Go with God’.


“And guess what? It was an international short film festival held upstairs in a pub! A model we’ve replicated at the White Lion thanks to our awesome host Sergio”.


And what has been the most difficult hurdle John’s overcome as the organiser?


“We have overcome so many problems but the biggest problem was finding a venue. Unsurprisingly Beeston doesn’t have a cinema of the scale of Showcase, Cineworld or even Broadway (in Nottingham City centre). Luckily one of our friends mentioned that Sergio at The White Lion was interested on setting up a cinema in his upstairs function room. The room has a wonderful retro feel with lush red velvet chairs and benches surrounding the room. Getting the projector and sound to good standard was challenging on a low budget but proved to be successful. Not only has the festival been hosted their but many other events adding to the joy of Beeston”.



In the past John has hosted a number of other film events such as showcase nights, taking part in the D H Lawrence festival and Scarlarama as well but is more than happy to pass on his experiences with others.


“Clarity of vision and determination to succeed [are skills needed] plus the help of loads of talented filmmakers otherwise there would lots of people staring at a blank screen”.


“We are also blessed by finding some great partners such as the B’Oscar sponsors, who are local Beeston businesses; the fabulous review team of Beestonians who review entries and make selections; our awesome global award panel who decide B’Oscar winners; Sergio at The White Lion and of course the students from New College Nottingham who volunteer their hard work enthusiastically to make audience and filmmakers as welcome as possible. So appreciation of those who share your vision is vital”.


John goes on to explain that there are two keys challenges faced by film festival organisers:


“You need to appeal to filmmakers and appeal to the audience, without these people excited by what we are doing there would be no festival. For filmmakers we offer a platform, an audience to industry judges, and of course the chance to win a coveted B’Oscar. For the audience we need to provide an exciting programme, in a convivial atmosphere rubbing shoulders with as many filmmakers as we can attract”.


And how does John balance the financial aspects with the creative side?


“Well, we are self-funding, and get great support from local businesses, so each year to grow the scope of the festival to ensure that we are sustainable. We are also aware that festival audiences are looking for surprises! Short film festivals are the platform for filmmakers to take risks, develop their skills and surprise the audience! So far we have had plenty of surprises and that’s why our audience numbers keep on increasing year on year”.


And what advice would John give to like-minded people thinking of setting up their own festivals?


“Ensure you clarify your vision, be certain sort your festival should be, so once that is honed, work incredibly hard to make it happen because it is an amazingly rewarding process”.


“For us, in 2018 we are expanding by adding a section dedicated to Women’s Voices. This is a very open definition: films made by men but tell a woman's story in a good way, with a great leading female actor, can still be considered; as long as the film has a good mix of women and men working on the crew, and as long as they tell a good woman's story, it can be submitted”.


In the festival’s first year they screened 70 films over two days and in 2018 John plans to run the event over 4 days with hopes to screen 130 films making it the biggest international short film festival in the Midlands.


Finally, we ask John if he has any final words to give to fans/organisers of regional film festivals. “Well, a short film festival offers 2 hour programs that are constructed from a mosaic of cinematic genius rather than a single overarching storyline. This provides a platform to emerging filmmakers from Beeston to Bangkok and enriches the lives of everyone involved”.


Big thanks to John Currie for his time and check out the Official Festival website here and also our coverage of 2017’s event.





By midlandsmovies, Sep 14 2017 11:14AM



Flickerama - A film festival, that's an actual festival!


Flickerama is taking film festivals to a whole new level, bringing the vibe of a summer outdoor festival and making it all about movies. Think a mini-Glastonbury that's all about film. 


Regional film fans will be able to enjoy films on a large outdoor Arena Screen or in the comfort of a specially designed indoor marquee with three fantastic film events taking place over one weekend.


Over 15th, 16th & 17th September you can head to Umberslade Farm Park, just 30 minutes from Birmingham and be "transported to a film paradise".


With three unique events over the three days, there are indoor and outdoor screenings (with rain protection!), 16 classic films, two Labyrinth Masquerade Balls, Harry Potter After Party with Alex Baker (Magic Radio/Kerrang), a Quidditch Tournament and more!


There will also be the Ghostbusters car, a Kids Make & Take Craft Tent, Kids & Adult Cosplay (win a private cinema screening!), a Back To The Future Exhibition, Film Poster Sale, Conjurer's Kitchen, Kids outdoor games.


And that's not all! Other attractions are the Big Grey circus performer, Film themed Mini-Golf, Forza 6 Hotlap Tournament, Minecraft Creative competition. Phew!

 

The organiser's claim there is "something for everyone" and boy are they right!


For further info please click here http://flickerama.co.uk and check the film screening listings below:


FLICKERAMA - LABYRINTH MASQUERADE BALL:

15th September - DOORS OPEN 7PM

7.30pm Themed cocktail reception

8.30pm Labyrinth (U)

10.30pm Labyrinth Masquerade Ball


FLICKERAMA - CULT AND COMIC DAY:

Saturday 16th September - DOORS OPEN 11.30AM

OUTDOOR SCREEN

12.15pm Guardians Of The Galaxy(12A)

2.45pm Edward Scissorhands (12A) 100 mins

5.15pm Ghostbusters (12A) 103 mins

8pm Harry Potter & The Philosopher's Stone (PG) 150 mins


INDOOR SCREEN

12.30 Adam West Tribute - Batman: The Movie 1966 (U) 103 mins

3pm Amaryllis (15) TBC mins

5:30pm Deadpool (15) 104 mins

7:15pm Adult cosplay competition

8:30pm The Room (18) 99 mins


FLICKERAMA - FAMILY FILM DAY:

Sunday 17th September - DOORS OPEN 11.30AM

OUTDOOR SCREEN

12.30pm Safety Last (U) 76 mins

2pm Frozen singalong (PG) 108 mins

4.15pm Kids cosplay competition

4.45pm The Goonies (12A) 113 mins

7pm Back to the Future (PG) 115 mins


INDOOR SCREEN

12.45pm The Lego Batman Movie (1h 45m)

3pm Matilda (PG) 94 mins

5pm Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (U) 96 mins

7.30pm Labyrinth (U) 98 mins

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


Click here for Part 2...


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Aug 17 2017 08:40AM



Midlands Spotlight - The Short Cinema 2017 in Leicester


Leicester's amazing The Short Cinema is now under a week away and they have a full programme of loca, national and international films to showcase over their 3-day festival line up.


Check out the full programme below:


THE SHORT CINEMA LAUNCH PARTY Wed 23 Aug, 6.30pm

To celebrate the eleventh edition of The Short Cinema, we’re launching the festival with a get-together, to give us a chance to highlight some of our partners and supporters and allow our makers to meet before their screening night. Join us for a drink from Langton Brewery and finger food from exciting, new, vegan caterers The Mystery Booth to celebrate another year of excellent short film. We will also have music from the talented Les Hayden and an outdoor screening in partnership with The British Silent Film Festival (weather dependent). This event is followed by our Opening Gala screening of our 2017 International Programme in Screen 2 from 8:45pm. Please note you will need a separate ticket for this event.

 

THE SHORT CINEMA OPENING GALA: INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMME Wed 23 Aug, 8.45pm

Opening Gala: The International Programme has expanded! For the first time this will be showcased in one of our main screens following the launch party.

 

ARTIST MOVING IMAGE: THE LACEY RITUALS: FILMS BY BRUCE LACEY Thu 24 Aug, 6.45pm

This delightful programme showcases the playful, physical sense of humour and irreverent sensibility of great British artist and eccentric, Bruce Lacey.

 

THE BEST OF IRIS: QUEER FILM NETWORK SCREENING Thu 24 Aug, 7pm

A chance for audiences to watch the Best of Iris LGBTQ+ Film Festival Shorts. A post screening discussion will be hosted by Connor Winterton. [LIMITED AVALIABILITY]

 

THE SHORTISH CINEMA Fri 25 Aug, 8pm

Screening for its third year, the festival has expanded with The Shortish Cinema, a screening of Midlands-made films which need slightly longer than our usual 15 minute limit to tell their story.

 

FAMILY SHORTS: Sat 26 Aug, 10.30am

Presented in partnership with Flatpack Assemble: Join us for a morning of family friendly short stories told on the big screen.

 

THE SHORT CINEMA CLOSING: MAIN COMPETITION Sat 26 Aug, Doors 7.30pm – Screening 8pm

Now in its eleventh year, The Short Cinema is an annual short film festival showcasing established and emerging talent from across the world with a strong focus on Midlands makers.

 

More info can be found at http://www.theshortcinema.co.uk/




By midlandsmovies, Jun 19 2017 01:43PM



Europe's Largest Indian Film Festival returns to Birmingham this month with 11 independent films, 2 music documentaries and a host of talent over 10 days in 3 cinemas.


The Bagri Foundation Birmingham Indian Film Festival (BIFF) returns to the city this summer in partnership with the citywide USTAV celebration of South Asian culture. Sister to the Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival, (LIFF) it is regarded as Europe’s largest Indian film festival and will run from Friday 23 June until Sunday 2 July 2017.


The festival opens on Friday 23 June at Cineworld Birmingham, Broad Street with a glittering red-carpet Birmingham premiere of the historical epic, The Black Prince by Kavi Raz, a powerful UK-produced film launched at Cannes. It stars Punjabi singer Satinder Sartaaj, who will be guest of honour on the opening night, iconic actress Shabana Azmi (The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Fire), Jason Flemyng (Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, X-Men:First Class) and Amanda Root (Jane Eyre). The film dramatises the true but little-known story of the last King of Punjab who was abducted by the British Raj to be mentored by Queen Victoria.


Back into the 21st Century for the closing night, on 2 July, mac Birmingham will screen the surreal Malayalam road-movie thriller Sexy Durga directed by Sanal Kumar Sasidharan. Winner of the prestigious Tiger Award for best film at Rotterdam International Film Festival Sexy Durga set in Kerala tells the tale of a hitch-hiking couple who try to escape a road to hell after accidentally getting into a car of deranged gangsters.



The acclaimed festival features new and exciting cinema featuring cutting edge films that reaffirm the festival’s position as the ‘punk-rock of Indian cinema’ and is an edgy tie-in, to UK-India Year of Culture and complementing the BFI’s India on Film programme,


Further screenings include the regional premieres of Tamil comedy, Ticket - The Movie (Raaghav Ranganthan, 2017), anarchic Bollywood comedy Badman (Soumik Sen, 2017) and N Padmakumar's inspirational Mumbai drama A Billion Colour Story (2016). The festival experiments for the first time with horror with the disturbing Hide and Seek (Vishal Furia, 2016), plus the Regional Premiere of Pakistani gangster thriller, Whirlpool (Harune Massey 2017).


The Bagri Foundation Birmingham Indian Film Festival will also host an exclusive ‘In Conversation With’ including Bollywood Director, Ashutosh Gowariker who directed Bollywood superstar, Aamir Khan in the Oscar nominated Lagaan: Once Upon A Time in India (2001) and the epic historical romance Jodhaa Akbar (2008) starring former Miss World, Aishwarya Rai.


Cary Rajinder Sawhney, LIFF & BIFF Director, says: “We are delighted to bring Birmingham audiences a carefully curated selection of the very best new Indian and South Asian independent cinema; all films are English subtitled, offering a rare window into over a billion South Asian lives. This year's selection includes premieres of new comedies, gripping thrillers, shocking horror and insightful true-life documentaries as well as bringing together UK previews of major award-winning films from the world's greatest film festivals."



New venue partners for this evolving festival continue to help it serve a broader diverse audience and this year the festival is delighted to welcome The Mockingbird Cinema and Kitchen, based at the Custard Factory in Digbeth. The festival’s long-term venues include Cineworld Birmingham Broad Street and mac Birmingham.


The films screened are in a wide range of South Asian languages to reflect the linguistic diversity of Birmingham’s Indian and South Asian communities and all films are subtitled in English.


Check out the event's official websites to purchase tickets and find out even more information about this exciting Midlands event: www.birminghamindianfilmfestival.co.uk




By midlandsmovies, May 21 2017 09:05AM



Derby Film Festival 2017


By Guy Russell


A little under two weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending the 4th annual Derby Film Festival. Hosted by QUAD the festival kicked off on the 28th April followed by ten days’ worth of screenings, talks, short films and competitions.


Each year the festival has a different theme and the films listed in the programme reflect that theme in some way. Last year’s festival had the theme of “Journey”, this year’s however was “Habitat” and as the festival organisers describe it, “the environment that films take place in can vary hugely and create a massive impact on the narrative and the characters”.





Mindhorn (2017)

On the opening night of the festival the audience was treated to a preview of the upcoming comedy Mindhorn starring Julian Barratt of The Mighty Boosh fame. Directed by Sean Foley and written by Barratt and Boosh collaborator Simon Farnaby this plays a lot differently than what we’re used to seeing Barratt do.


Instead of eccentric and odd humour however we’re treated to the sad, self-deprecating comedy which Will Ferrell and Steve Coogan have excelled at for years. Barratt plays it just as brilliantly as Richard Thorncroft, a former 80s television detective who longs for a comeback on the screen but instead finds himself being asked to assist the police in apprehending a real life murderer.


Mindhorn will draw obvious comparisons to Steve Coogan’s Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa that was released in 2013 as Partridge found himself thrust into real action as a hostage negotiator. Coogan actually stars in Mindhorn also as Thorncroft’s former co-star Pete Eastman who is now a star in his own right. Accomplished actors Kenneth Branagh and Andrea Riseborough also feature.


It was a pleasure to know the film was shot on location in the Isle of Man, the sleepy location played a part in the film and looked glorious on the screen. I really enjoyed Mindhorn and I am fairly confident the rest of the audience did too as the screening was filled with laughter. This British comedy delivers plenty of laughs wgich is sadly something that isn’t too common in British cinemas right now. It was also refreshing that the film is completely original and not only commissioned because of its ties to an already established television show (Alan Partridge, The Inbetweeners). I hope to see more Mindhorn films from Barratt in the future.


You can still catch Mindhorn showing at the QUAD in May.



David Lynch: The Art Life (2017)

This documentary about David Lynch’s life and work as a filmmaker was an advance preview as part of the Fantastiq element of the festival.


Directed by Jon Nguyen and Rick Barnes this intimate look inside Lynch’s youth, his persona and his “art life” couldn’t come at a more relevant time. Twin Peaks, arguably Lynch’s most recognisable title in his resume is weeks away from being revived, so an expose into the mind of one of the most enigmatic directors around today is satisfying to watch. Narrated by Lynch through a vintage microphone speaker he guides the audience through his awkward life affirming adolescence right through into his adulthood giving the viewer an idea about how his mind works and why he is such a vivid and eccentric director.


Last year’s Derby Film Festival screened Wild at Heart (1990) and whilst I wasn’t the biggest fan of the film I understood why Lynch has a massive legion of fans. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this documentary as much as I did but with a sleek running time of only 90 minutes I found myself wanting to hear Lynch talk more about any subject! Nguyen and Barnes do a great job in keeping the films pace light and swift, never letting the film sag or outstay its welcome.


Whilst I’m a firm believer of “less is more” when it comes to knowing a film or filmmakers secrets I am guilty of seeing filmmakers quizzed on their films or their career, making sense of the subtleties they have placed in their films. This documentary is a must see for any David Lynch fan or film fan.


Whilst this was an advance preview as part of the Derby Film Festival, viewers can catch this documentary when it hits cinemas in July 2017.



Ace in the Hole (1951)

Directed by legendary filmmaker Billy Wilder, this long unappreciated noir film was a new watch for me and was screened during the festival and fitting perfectly with the theme of habitat.


Ace in the Hole stars Kirk Douglas as Chuck Tatum, a cynical, libellous, cruel adulterer who has been caught on previous occasions creating fake news to further his career as a reporter. We find out early on that Tatum has been fired from every newspaper from New York to Chicago and has now found his way in Albuquerque, New Mexico offering his services to small town paper The Albuquerque Sun-Bulletin.


Tatum is a classic noir protagonist, a flawed, greedy individual who only looks out for himself, a familiar trait in a lot of people in the modern world today. Frustrated at the lack of “big news” in his small town, Tatum is sent to a nearby rattlesnake hunt to report on when he stumbles upon local man Leo Minosa (Richard Benedict) who has been tragically caved in whilst scavenging in an old Indian cave. Tatum virtually rubs his hands as he sees the tragedy as a way to write “big news” again, instead of getting Minosa out as quickly as possible Tatum slyly delays the rescue effort so his story can grow.


What follows is a massive media circus surrounding the cave, tourists from different states camp out, hot dog vendors at every turn, carnival rides and even a band performing and selling a song they have written for Leo. Tatum, along with Leo’s estranged wife make a huge windfall whilst Minosa is trapped.


Wilder through the characters and brilliant cinematography by Charles Lang, scathingly attacks the American people’s obsession over tragedy, no surprise then when Ace in the Hole flopped at the box office only finding its appreciation in the last two decades. Wilder famously spoke of the poor box office performance saying “Americans expected a cocktail and felt I was giving them a shot of vinegar instead”.


Ace in the Hole fits ideally within the theme of habitat as the location creates a massive impact on its central characters. Without the Indian cave trapping Leo there would be no circus, no story. As I mentioned earlier this was a first watch for myself, and I enjoyed it thoroughly, I can see this becoming a favourite on my shelf for years to come.


To find that it didn’t find an audience when first released is disappointing, the film was definitely before its time and I would gladly recommend this film to anyone!



The Truman Show (1998)

Moving on from Ace in the Holes attack of the public’s desire for tragedy is The Truman Show, a film attacking the publics obsession for drama. Directed by Peter Weir, The Truman Show stars Jim Carrey as Truman Burbank who since birth has been the subject of a reality television show about his life. Adopted by Christof (Ed Harris) who serves as the show’s creator and executive producer Truman is unaware that his whole life has been scripted, materialized just for ratings.


Unlike Ace in the Hole, The Truman Show was a huge commercial and critical success even though both films criticise human natures worst aspects. Originally The Truman Show was written as a thriller set in New York City however when Weir approached the project the film was developed as a comedy, attaching the world’s biggest comedy star Jim Carrey as the lead. I believe this is one the reasons the audience accepted a filmmaker’s critique of them as Weir masks his attack with comedy.


Truman’s entire life has taken place inside a giant production dome in Hollywood, designed to create the image of the beautiful, fictional Seahaven Island. When films stay in our mind long after the film has finished sometimes it’s not the plot or the characters that makes our minds revisit the movie but because visually we can’t get the films “look” out of our head.


The matching cottages, porches and white picket fences seem too perfect to be real, some of the shots by cinematographer Peter Biziou almost resemble some fantasy films like Brazil (1985). Similar to Mindhorn, The Truman Show was shot on location in the aptly named Seaside, Florida, a fact not many people can believe, many believing the look was achieved on a soundstage in Hollywood.


I’m sure most people had already seen The Truman Show when it was screened on the penultimate day of the festival, however like myself I’m sure they enjoyed seeing it on the big screen with an audience laughing with them. If you’ve not already seen Truman, then I would highly recommend this film!


Guy Russell


A big thank you to Kathy Frain at Derby QUAD

By midlandsmovies, May 16 2017 08:47AM



New Midlands Film Festival Hopes to Leave you Feeling Good


Midlands Movies Mike introduces a brand new film festival for the region that is looking for submissions from talented filmmakers for their first ever event.


West Midlands-based Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers are about to launch their first ever ‘Film Fest’ and are encouraging filmmakers from the area to get involved.


They are hoping the region’s talent will submit films (no longer than five minutes) on the theme of ‘Feel Good’. Films will be screened at a special event at Highbury Theatre Centre on the big screen, at 2pm on Sunday 16th July.


Seeing the event as a celebration of local film, it will also be an opportunity for people to meet other filmmakers informally, as well as allowing film makers to invite friends and family to see their films in a cinema setting.


Committee member Debbie Daniels explains, “We originally had the idea as Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers make films mainly for competitions and we wanted an event that was celebratory in nature”.


“We will have films from our club, and hopefully other clubs, but we are very keen to involve any lone filmmakers out there, or young people who are making films, for example”, Debbie adds.


Tickets will be available to the general public for just £2 and with their film theme of ‘Feel Good’, Debbie and her team are aiming for their audiences to leave very much ‘feeling good’.


For details check out the organisation at www.suttoncoldfieldmoviemakers.org.uk where there is also a link to more information about Film Fest.


In their first year they are hoping to share this event out to a wider audience of movie makers and it complements the already exciting calendar of film festivals in the Midlands.


By midlandsmovies, Mar 31 2017 03:39PM



Jam-packed: Ten things to do at Flatpack Film Festival


With this year’s Flatpack Film Festival leaving us spoilt for choice yet again, it’s not a question of if you’re going, it’s more a question of how you’re going to fit it all in. If only someone could write a handy guide of the Top Ten events to help you get ‘packing…


Ordinary Heroes. The Victoria, Saturday 8th April

A selection of real life stories with a feelgood factor. Featuring Fish Story, which reeled in the audience at the Flatmates Taster. Centred on an old Gran’s tale, Charlie Lyne’s story investigates the opening of an Anglesea marina where there’s something fishy about all the guests.


Off the Beaten Track, The Electric, Friday 7th April

An animated series of surreal shorts where there are no rules. Highlights include the brilliantly bizarre Bloop’s Birthday from Julian Glander and the amusing yet bitter-sweet Victor and Isolina, where Director William Caballero juxtaposes his grandparent’s account of their break up with clay-mation renditions of their antics.


Hyperconnected. The Electric, Sunday 9th April

Shining the lens on our digital selves and our infatuation with friends, followers and filters. In particular, Peter Huang’s 5 Films about technology aims satirical silliness at our obsession with gadgets and devices and flips the camera’s gaze onto our own behaviour.


Cassette: A Documentary Mixtape. BMI, John Lee, Friday 7th April

Director Zach Taylor’s look at the emergence and the resurgence of the humble C90. With talking head interviews from Henry Rollins and Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore as well as inventor Lou Ottens, this is a must for anyone who remembers (or wants to know) why the cassette and the pencil are inextricably linked.


Aural Aesthetics. BMI, John Lee, Sunday 9th April

This assortment of sonic shorts features a packed playlist, including a mesmeric promo for Bonobo’s No Reason and a Bowie homage in the form of a reworked The Man Who Fell to Earth from Finnish visual artist Mika Taanila. If you feel that the music video is a lost art, then this could be the screening to restore your faith.


The Art Life. The Electric, Sunday 9th April

Over 90 minutes, Lynch recounts pivotal moments from his childhood and his highly influential career whilst also indulging in his pursuit of painting. Sure to be of interest to both the obsessed and the uninitiated, this documentary helps to uncover the mystery behind the man.


Eraserhead. BMI Lyttleton, Saturday 8th April

The Lynchian weirdness continues with the iconic Eraserhead. Forty years after its initial release, Lynch’s debut feature can be seen and heard like never before. A live reworking of the score by French synth duo Cercuil promises an alternative aural perspective for those familiar with the original.


Eyes without a face, The Old Rep, Saturday 8th April

Highly influential even today, this is the 1960 story of a scientist whose mission to restore his daughter’s beauty forces him to take extreme measures. Surgically removing the faces of other beautiful women, French director Georges Franju’s Eyes without a Face brings shock and gore to the festival.


Happy Together. Patrick Centre, Saturday 8th April

This family-friendly collection of shorts is perfect for the miniature film fan. Suitable for those 4 and above, this series focuses on friendship and colourful characters. Quack Fat, in particular offers something retro for the parents too, featuring a complement of come-alive cassettes, a Walkman and VHS tapes moving to the music.


Bunch of Kunst + Q&A. The Electric, Thursday 6th April

Christine Franz's debut feature follows Nottingham Punk Hop duo Sleaford Mods on the road as they garner mainstream attention and are catapulted from playing the pubs of Notts to the John Peel Stage of Glastonbury. For Franz, this is a homecoming screening and the former Birmingham student will hold a Q&A session after the film.


If you make it to any of the above, be sure to let us know what you think. Flatpack Film Festival runs from the 4th till the 9th of April and full details are available at http://flatpackfestival.org.uk/festival/programme/


Robb Sheppard



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