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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, Mar 5 2017 09:51PM



Just Charlie (2017)

Directed by Rebekah Fortune


A gifted footballer struggles with her identity as she becomes more and more aware that they are a girl trapped inside a boy's body, while her family and friends also try their best to come to terms with these changes.


When young footballing talent Charlie (Harry Gilby) receives an offer for a trial at his county's football team it would appear that he quite literally has the world at his feet. If he plays his cards right, his future could be sorted.


However, a life of luxury doing what he loves is more daunting to Charlie than one would initially think it would be. Trapped in the body of a boy, Charlie is painfully torn between living up to his father's expectations and following the life he never could, and shedding his ill-fitting skin.


When he unintentionally fronts up to his family, Charlie's action threatens to tear his family apart forever. Just Charlie is a Midlands-based project that takes a look at the story of a young boy who is a young girl at heart. It is a wonderfully made film that sensitively deals with an issue that has recently started to have more and more light shed on it.


I really enjoyed a number of the performances here, although I absolutely must start off by saying hat's off to young Harry Gilby for his portrayal of Charlie here. For a first appearance in a feature length film he did a terrific job. It was a truly brilliant performance that I think showed real maturity on Gilby's behalf. I think a lot of very experienced actors would have to seriously consider taking on a role such as this because it is a very sensitive issue that has only really become something that has started to be discussed publicly very recently.


There is potentially a lot that could go wrong when someone plays a transgender person as there is such a huge number of ways the role could be unknowingly mishandled. For me though, Gilby did a very good job of portraying Charlie, so kudos to him.


Scot Williams played Charlie's dad, and again, this was another blinding performance. Some of his scenes with Gilby were horrible to watch, but this had such an impact on me as a viewer. I cannot begin to imagine the toll that a situation such as the one presented here in the film must take on a family, but if I were to try to, the results would come pretty close to so many of the scenes that the two actors shared here.


As difficult and upsetting as they were to watch at times, they really did the job very well. Williams managed to play Paul in a way that meant you didn't view him as a heartless idiot, but as a man who was grieving in some way, meaning you were able to empathise with him somewhat.


I have to praise writer Peter Machen on the story he created for the film. He managed to write something that covered just a bout all bases of Charlie's life - home, school, football, and everything in between. He also managed to do all this without making the film feel as thought it was trying to be much bigger than it actually was. While it may have branched out and touched upon the issue in a variety of settings, the story still felt personal and intimate enough for you to really be drawn into it.


All in all, Just Charlie is a beautiful film that pulls no punches in delivering it's message, yet still brings everything back round for a happy ending (or should I really say beginning in this case?). The top notch writing covers so many things while the truthful performances do a great job in tying everything together very nicely indeed. This is a touching journey of a film that is definitely worth every moment spent watching it.


Kira Comerford

By midlandsmovies, Sep 16 2016 08:58AM

Midlands Movies Mike checks out new short film GRID from regional filmmaker Dave Hastings which tackles difficult issues in the LGBT community.


After spending last summer on the feature film The House of Screaming Death, Dave Hastings has wanted to focus on short films again in 2016 during the former’s post-production period. With that in mind, and a wish to return to dramatic rolls, Dave has made a film about LGBT subjects and themes, which he says are close to his heart.


Previously directing short film BRINK which dealt with the violent and tragic aftermath of a homophobic attack on a young man, Dave returned to other important issues within the LGBTQ community. And with GRID he hopes that his story tackles difficult issues head on.


Grid is in the mid-1980s with the virus that would eventually be known worldwide as AIDS, has already struck fear into the medical profession as well as the LGBTQ community.


As large numbers of this populace are being unmercifully struck down by this horrid and mysterious/insidious killer virus, in one hospital there remains hope. Nurse Angie Wordsworth (actress Charlie Clarke) meets infected patient Daniel Cole (Steven Salt) who is a patient who has no-one but Doctor Andrews (Ernest Vernon) to care for him.




Having lost a friend to AIDS a very long time ago, Dave Hastings was very conscious of what he was attempting to do.


“We were treating the subject and characters with the respect they deserve, while at the same time hoping that my friend, wherever he is now (and who also just wanted to “make movies” himself), approved of what we were producing on set”, explains Dave.


“Speaking of ‘on set’, just wow, you have some amazing actors to look forward to seeing in GRID. First up is Steve Salt, whom I met through HOSD, and my goodness, he is just one of the best actors I’ve ever had the pleasure to see perform and know as a friend. After Screaming Death, I knew I wanted to work with Steve again, and after presenting the script to him months ago, we met up and discussed the project and I was so happy he agreed!”


Also featuring is Charlie Clarke who Dave describes as “the perfect actress to bring Angie to life. She is simply magnificent”.


Finally the last member of the cast, Ernest Vernon, is an actor Dave has worked with multiple times. Playing Doctor Andrews, Ernest has the difficult task to provide the context for the film’s overall storyline.


Dave says he doesn’t want to shy away from the delicate subject of the AIDS/HIV epidemic, which is still seen as a credible threat despite medical advancements.


“With this in mind, I had to approach the story I wanted to tell (& like any other I would), with care and dignity. Researching all this was not easy though and a lot of times, I had to step away from it, because it overwhelmed me so much. I came across some horrendous stories of gay men who had been abandoned by their families and friends, leaving them to suffer alone. But as well as this, I read the loving stories of nurses working around the clock to tend/comfort patients…and giving up everything to strive to find some kind of cure and quickly before more lives were claimed.”.


Researching everything he could about those troubled early years in the 80s, as well as the current climate, Dave felt that these stories, all these experiences, needed to be told.


Alongside the difficult issues, Dave assembled a “stunning” production crew to tackle the filming in a small hospital suite. This included Joshua Baggott (DOP), Suki Sandhar (1st AC), Kaush Patel (2nd Unit & Photographer), James Hall (Sound) and Dave explained how they were all struck by the emotions being acted out. “Some of us, myself included, had to take in some air between takes as it felt too real at times”.


And if you’re wondering, why call it GRID…? – “Gay-related immune deficiency (GRID) was the name first proposed in 1982 to describe an “unexpected cluster of cases” of what is now known as AIDS”.


More updates about the film can be found by following the news at LightBeam Productions website:

https://lightbeamproductionsofficialblog.wordpress.com

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