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By midlandsmovies, Jan 27 2020 09:37AM


Lost Identity


Directed by Ruth Holder


2019


Early on in the short, experimental dance film Lost Identity, director Ruth Holder makes it clear she has something to say.


A girl is sat at a dressing table, applying the usual make-up to her face, however her face is one of discontent, an expression that doesn't alter throughout the film.


There is no dialogue, Holder decides to communicate with the audience through dance accompanied by a grand musical score by Osi & The Jupiter.


Staged in a seemingly neglected loft space, only simmers of daylight creep in as our actress performs. Additionally a cold, blue light descends and embraces her literally and metaphorically, as a quiet storm rages inside her body. Holder remains focused on her the entire time, not letting the camera leave her sight.


The choreography proves to be vital and key to the success of the director being able to strongly portray what Lost Identity means. Circular actions are repeated indicating frustration within, and when theatre curtains are introduced our performer carefully wraps these around her neck before fighting and pushing them away. The score soars during these moments, reaching crescendo just as she overcomes the urge to give in.


As mentioned earlier, a permanent look of unhappiness is displayed when applying make-up, as the film proceeds the make-up becomes smeared in a constant battle between leaving it on and taking it off to reveal true beauty.


Lost Identity reminded me of the work Terrence Malick has been doing the last decade. Powerful, evocative images supported by rich, classical music. Traditional dialogue is also not used often in these films, imagery in Malick's case and dance in Holder's is the tool they use to peel back the outer layer of ourselves and society, inspecting even closer once inside.


An experimental dance film is not something I have much experience in regularly watching, it wasn't until the credits starting to roll that I really understood what the film meant to me and what writer and director Ruth Holder was trying to convey. A second viewing is recommended and achievable with the runtime only being five minutes, to truly appreciate what has been achieved.


Not a frame is wasted in the film, similar to the products and processes we sometimes use to create a different identity in life, less is most definitely more.


The brilliant performance, choreography, score and direction make this an absolute tour de force by filmmaker Ruth Holder.


Guy Russell


Twitter @Budguyer

By midlandsmovies, Aug 27 2019 07:25PM


Photo courtesy of Jade Jones-Blackwood
Photo courtesy of Jade Jones-Blackwood

Midlands Interview - Birmingham director Ruth Holder


Midlands Movies editor Mike Sales speaks to Birmingham based Ruth Holder about her latest film Lost Identity as well as her struggles as an independent director and her love of Guillermo del Toro.


Hi Ruth. Can you tell us a bit about yourself? Are you from the Midlands?

My name is Ruth Holder, I’m 19 years old and I’m from Birmingham. Storytelling has been a passion and love of mine since I was very young but it wasn’t until I watched Pacific Rim in the cinema, that I dreamed of becoming a filmmaker and seeing my films on the silver screen. This dream is what motivates me everyday.


And how did you get into your current position in the local film community?

By taking a huge risk. I dreamt of making my own film whilst I was in university so I had two choices - keep dreaming or make it a reality. So I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and make the film despite having no prior experience in doing so, and it’s the best decision I ever made. Now I can finally say that I am a film director, that I have made my own film and to be able to say that still feels so surreal.


Photo courtesy of Jade Jones-Blackwood
Photo courtesy of Jade Jones-Blackwood

That's great. What’s the latest project you are working on?

I recently made my first short film called, ‘Lost Identity’, which I directed, wrote and funded myself. The film explores how we alter our appearance and the way we behave, in order to please other people. By doing so, we put on a fake identity, a ‘mask’ if you will, in order to fit someone else’s perfect image. I wanted to show how this can affect someone emotionally and mentally because I believe this is something a lot of young people can relate to.


And can you tell us a bit about how they came about?

Lost Identity was influenced by my experiences in secondary school. I was hardly ever paid any attention to when I first started, no one even batted an eye at me and I hated it, I hated feeling like I was invisible. So I changed who I was in order to get my classmates attention and yes I got the attention I hoped for, but not in the way that I expected.


I was called ‘bitch’, punched and hit repeated like it was a normality and used by those who I thought were my friends. I knew that what was happening to me was wrong and knew it was unacceptable but I deluded myself into thinking that it was okay because I was finally getting the attention that I wanted.

So I decided to make a film about what happened to me, not only to share my experience and inspire others to stand up for themselves but also to heal. Working on this film made me realise that I'm still hurting from my past experiences and to grow and move on, I knew I had to tell my story.


Photo courtesy of Brandon Humphries
Photo courtesy of Brandon Humphries

As well as the personal experiences, what were the other influences on your film?

In the film, I use coloured lighting to illustrate the different stages that May, the dancer and lead actress in my film, goes through. This idea was inspired by Guillermo del Toro’s use of colour and how he uses it has a medium for visual storytelling in his films. Pacific Rim, one of my favourite films from him, has such a vast colour scheme and you can’t help but be immersed in the film’s visuals because of it. This is something I wanted to achieve with Lost Identity and I believe I did.




Photo courtesy of Brandon Humphries
Photo courtesy of Brandon Humphries

Do you or projects you choose specialise in any genres?

Since I’m just starting out there’s not a particular genre that I want to stick to at the moment. Right now, I’m keeping my options open and experimenting with different genres to see what works for me.


What do you think are the challenges faced by local independent films?

Depending on your audience and goals for your film I think independent filmmaking has its advantages and disadvantages. For instance, if you wanted to reach a mainstream audience that could prove difficult because independent films aren't distributed the way mainstream films are. Most independent films either are seen in festivals or sent straight to DVD, whereas mainstream films are screened in various cinemas internationally.


Since I’m targeting young people I do want this film to go mainstream because I believe the message of the film can impact and change so many lives. So, even though on paper it sounds impossible, I’m going to work hard to make it possible.


And what has been the most difficult hurdle you have/had to overcome yourself?

The most difficult challenge that I’ve faced is doubting myself and my abilities to make a film. To jump into the role of director with no prior experience was daunting. But I had such a great support team, my family and my mentor, Campbell Ex, believed in me and helped and supported me every step of the way.


Do you have any heroes in the industry? Any favourite films?

Christopher Nolan and Guillermo del Toro. I’ve always loved how Guillermo del Toro’s films use colour as a medium for visual storytelling and how Nolan can create such compelling stories on a large scale. It’s these two facets of storytelling that inspire my films. Also they're two of the biggest names in the film industry. This is a standing that I aspire to earn as I continue to make films. There are few young, female directors in the film industry whose names are known worldwide. I'm going to change that.



Photo courtesy of Jade Jones-Blackwood
Photo courtesy of Jade Jones-Blackwood

What has been your greatest achievement or success?

Making ‘Lost Identity’. I honestly didn’t think I was going to be able to do it because of how impossible it seemed. But I had such an amazing cast and crew who worked hard and passionately to help me bring my vision to life and I can’t thank them enough.


Finally, what are your future plans?

At the moment, I’m working on getting my film, ‘Lost Identity’ screened to the public so that’s my number one priority as of right now.


My dream is to have it screened in the BFI IMAX, which is ambitious to say the least but I believe that it’s possible. God had brought me this far and I know he has so much more in store for me. The BFI IMAX is just the beginning and it will happen, I know it will. Just wait and see.


Another ambitious plan of mine is to work with Christopher Nolan and Guillermo del Toro this year, which again sound unrealistic but I will make this dream of mine a reality.


Thank you, Ruth.


Ruth Holder - https://www.instagram.com/ravenblackstudios/

Brandon Humphries - https://www.instagram.com/b.humphriesphotos/

Jade Jones-Blackwood - https://www.instagram.com/wavy.jxde/

May - https://www.instagram.com/mxtb_/

Eduards Caklais - https://www.instagram.com/eduards_caklais/

George Allen - https://georgeallen.eu/

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