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By midlandsmovies, Nov 12 2018 07:12PM

MIdlands Feature - Cinematic Crusade - The Best Robin Hood movies


With Robin Hood, not since Sherlock Holmes has an iconic British legend been turned into so many movie adaptations over the years.


A report from the NME earlier this year says there are 7 Robin Hood films in the works. However, having just reviewed Robin Hood: The Rebellion I think they’ve missed at least one. Well, 7 or 8 is still a huge number for the same brand recognition but one thing is for sure – it’s a legend ripe for the reimagining!


With so many iterations over the years – from 1908’s "Robin Hood and his Merry Men" which marks the first appearance of the outlaw on screen to porn parody “Virgins of Sherwood Forest” – there hasn’t been a genre that the Robin mythos hasn’t been adapted into. But which of the many versions are the best? Well, with ours and Robin’s Midlands origins we attempt to look at 10 of the best Robin Hood films from cinematic folklore. Please read on...





10. Robin Hood (1991) Directed by John Irvin

The first of two 1991 Robin Hood films on our list – take a wild guess at the other – sees Patrick Bergin embody the outlaw whilst an up-and-coming actress by the name of Uma Thurman stars as Maid Marian. Directed by John “Raw Deal” Irvin and produced by John “Die Hard” McTiernan, sadly don’t expect too much in the way of solid action but owing to Kevin Costner’s huge film later in the year, this film has been regularly overlooked and certainly underappreciated. Fighting nobility, the plot uses the same set up as the 1938 film where a war between Normans and Saxons gets things moving but the movie sadly, and unwisely, jettisons the Sheriff of Nottingham (why?) for some new villains. Filmed on location at Peckforton Castle in Cheshire – a non-Nottingham theme we’ll be seeing more of later – the 19-year age gap between Begin and Thurman is a bit icky but it’s well worth checking out as a bit of a curio in the history of Hood on film.


Hood Fact: The use of "Your Majesty" wasn’t used until almost 200 years later, the word “thugs” derives from the Thuggee which Brits wouldn’t encounter for another five centuries, the bloodhound was not a favoured dog breed until the 1500s and when Friar Tuck says he can afford swan's breast in Madeira, the country wasn't actually discovered until 1419 so he would have had difficulty! To be fair, many of the other films on this list commit worse crimes than these nit-picks.



9. Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960) Directed by Terence Fisher

Tagline: “The NEW and Greatest Adventures of Robin Hood... The World's Most Renowned Swordsman!" Sword? Surely bow and arrow? Anyways, a little-seen version, Sword of Sherwood Forest is a Hammer Film Production (them of ‘horror’ fame) and stars Richard Greene – who reprises the role he played in The Adventures of Robin Hood TV series from 1955 to 1959. Hammer stalwart Peter Cushing takes on the part of the Sheriff of Nottingham who has nefarious plans to confiscate a rich estate and, as always, is thwarted by Hood acting on the side of good. Several clumsy sword fights can be forgiven owing to a genuine love for the material and acting heavyweight Oliver Reed appears, but is re-dubbed, as Lord Melton. Unlike a few hammy Hammer sets, the film looks glorious filmed as it was on location in County Wicklow, Ireland – but again not in Nottingham sadly.


Hood Fact: From 1954 to 1967 Hammer Film Productions released three different movies starring the famous outlaw – as well as this there was The Men of Sherwood Forest (1954) and A Challenge for Robin Hood (1967).



8. Robin Hood (2010) Directed by Ridley Scott

Well, it’s not perfect. And then some. Seminal director Ridley Scott – a man known for his visual prowess and epic scale – takes the legend and sadly removes any fun despite a film filled with great actors and impressive locations. Here, Australian Russell Crowe is cast as Robin and is not the first, and no doubt won’t be the last, person to struggle with an English accent. His infamous BBC radio interview had him hopping mad – then walking out – when its authenticity was questioned (click here). Alongside Crowe is one of the best casts in the business, which includes Cate Blanchett, William Hurt, Mark Strong, Mark Addy, Oscar Isaac, Danny Huston, Eileen Atkins, and Max von Sydow. Yet it was the stodgy story and dour delivery that had people turning their noses up. Where’s Robin’s sense of mischief? Where is the adventure? Where is the film’s joy? For all its flaws though, you can still appreciate the fantastic Scott set pieces. Although, when seeing this film for the first time at the cinema I can still remember laughing out loud at the slow-motion sequence of Crowe popping out the sea (sea? In the legendary land-locked Nottingham?) in a shot of such ludicrous “epic-ness” there’s a perverse enjoyment of a film that takes a jaunty tale so seriously. You have been warned.


Hood Fact: The film's budget ballooned from $155 million to $200 million. Scott robbing from the rich film companies to deliver a poor film.



7. Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964) Directed by Gordon Douglas

A 60s musical set in Chicago during the Prohibition where two rival gangs compete for control of the city's rackets seems an unlikely interpretation but with so many films of Robin Hood appearing over the years, it’s these new takes that can standout amongst such a busy marketplace. Written by David R. Schwartz and produced by (and starring) Frank Sinatra, the film sees new mob boss Guy Gisborne (Peter Falk) ordering other gangsters in town to pay him protection whilst “Robbo” (Sinatra) gets together a band of merry men including pool hustler Little John (Dean Martin) and Will (Sammy Davis Jr.). Before long, the gangster ends up robbing from the rich and giving to a poor city orphanage. In a twist however, Barbara Rush as Marian Stevens (Maid Marian) is as duplicitous as they come, playing off both sides and looking out only for herself and stealing tainted money. Mostly a spoof, the film features the rat-pack stars belting out a variety of slick speakeasy hits including "My Kind of Town" which is the centrepiece number and was nominated for the 1964 Academy Award for Best Original Song. A quirky oddity, there’s enough swinging style to give Robin an updated unravelling by jumping into the seedy gangster genre.


Hood Fact: For a legend often containing imprisonments, ransoms and money exchanges, a scene depicting a kidnapping was filmed for Robin and the 7 Hoods but was quickly cut when star Frank Sinatra's son was kidnapped in real life. The 19-year old was released soon after after Sinatra paid the $240,000 demanded.



6. Robin and Marian (1976) Directed by Richard Lester

Before tackling his own American icon in Superman II, director Richard Lester went back to the past heroes of the UK with this period romantic adventure starring Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn. Strangely including comedian Ronnie Barker as Friar Tuck, the film was mostly shot in sunny old Eng—actually in Zamora, Artajona and Orgi in Spain – standing in for France rather than the Midlands at times too. With this suspect geographical anomaly (a Robin Hood film tradition you will see as we continue to go through the list), the movie had big names, a score composed by John “007” Barry and came off the back of Lester’s take on another classic swashbuckler The Three Musketeers (1973). It moves away from the traditional narrative where we get an aging Robin Hood fighting abroad before his return to Nottingham but [SHOCK HORROR SPOILER WARNING] he actually dies at the end. An interesting look at age, legends, love and wisdom, Robin and Marian may be one of the most complex, and interesting, versions of the nostalgic tale to date.


Hood Fact: Connery seems inexplicably linked to the Hood fable from his appearance here to his cameo as King Richard the Lionheart in Prince of Thieves (1991). He also appeared in Time Bandits (1981) which featured John Cleese’s comical Robin Hood. And it doesn’t stop there as his own son Jason Connery would later play Robin Hood in Robin of Sherwood (1984)!



5. Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993) Directed by Mel Brooks

Parodying the Robin Hood myth – but more specifically the 1938 and 1991 film versions – Mel Brooks undoes some of the legend’s classicism and replaces it with the pratfalls, visual jokes and verbal gags seen in Brook’s previous comedies. Cary Ewes plays a solid Robin holding together the chaotic narrative stemming from the eclectic support cast and bit-players which includes Dave Chappelle (in his first film role and clearly inspired by Morgan Freeman’s Moor), Isaac Hayes, Tracey Ullman, Patrick Stewart and even Dom DeLuise. A point-of-view shot following an arrow’s impossible journey around a forest (in the trailer only no less) is another direct reference to Prince of Thieves and whilst it pokes fun, it respects the story’s heart and never feels like a direct dig at the tale. Favourite line? “Unlike other Robin Hoods, I can speak with an English accent”. With this and some actors interacting with the crew on screen, Men in Tights takes a swipe at a number of past performances whilst warmly acknowledging the history of Hood on film into the bargain.


Hood Fact: As mentioned several times already, the geography of Great Britain is again suspect here – maybe intentionally so given the film’s parodic nature – but at the end of the movie when the camera is zooming out the castle is shown to be around Milton Keynes. Tut Tut.



4. Robin Hood (1973) Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman

Can humanoid cartoon animals portray historical characters better than Russell Crowe? You bet your ass they can! Disney’s box office success found fans owing to its excellent voice cast, fun animation and catchy tunes and although it may have aged a little worse than its initial box office suggested, the movie’s biggest draw is its entertaining and light-hearted take on the hero. Languishing in development hell since the mouse house’s Snow White (1937) the tale is inspired by Reynard the Fox – a medieval fable featuring a trickster red fox character. This version’s Little John shares eerie similarities with Baloo from The Jungle Book (1967) who was also a bear that had been voiced by Phil Harris and classic sequences are incorporated from the traditional Robin Hood narrative. One such take is the cordial tree-crossing in which Robin Hood and Little John wander over a fallen tree which bridges a river – this twists their usual legendary fight at the same location.


Hood Fact: The famous gap on Terry-Thomas' teeth was incorporated into the design of the character he voices, Sir Hiss (a snake) – and it makes a handy opening for his forked tongue to dart out from.



3. Robin Hood (1922) Directed by Allan Dwan

As the first film ever to have a Hollywood premiere, held at the now legendary Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre, Robin Hood was also one of the most expensive films of the 20s with a one-million-dollar budget. Douglas Fairbanks stars in this black and white silent movie as Earl of Huntingdon/Robin Hood and with sword fights, castles, horse chases and a feather in his hat, this much-lauded classic help set up many of the tropes we know from the films today. A massive film for its time, its use of over 1200 extras can be seen in spectacular battle scenes in huge Hollywood scale with some of its impressive sets being designed by architect Lloyd “Hollywood Bowl” Wright.


Hood Fact: Alan Hale, Sr. made such an impression as Little John in this film that he reprised the role sixteen years later in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) opposite Errol Flynn. Then he played the character again in Rogues of Sherwood Forest in 1950, 28 years after his initial performance in this original.



2. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) Directed by Michael Curtiz

Considered by many to be the definitive Robin Hood interpretation, the film is most known for Errol Flynn’s magnetic performance of Robin but director Curtiz (of Casablanca and Mildred Pierce fame no less) should be equally lauded for helming this legendary production. As well as Flynn, superstar Olivia de Havilland stars as Lady Marian Fitzwalter (Maid Marian) whilst Basil Rathbone takes the role of Guy of Gisbourne. Melville Cooper’s take on the High Sheriff of Nottingham is underrated and once again a film company (this time Warner Bros.) made their most expensive film ever with its budget being a richly $2 million. With its adventure spirit, a host of dramatic yet charismatic performances and fantastic fights, this film is rightly held as the pinnacle of chivalric swashbuckling on film and won Academy Awards for Art Direction, Editing and Original Score from celebrated composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold.


Hood Fact: James Cagney (of Curtiz’s earlier film Angels with Dirty Faces) was originally cast as Robin but walked out on his Warner Bros. contract and the filming was postponed three years, as a result – but paved the way for the role to go to Flynn.



1. Prince of Thieves (1991) Directed by Kevin Reynolds

As I have mentioned before on this site 1991 was a brilliant year for film which saw Terminator 2, Silence of the Lambs and JFK having huge critical and commercial success but it was Bryan Adams’ soundtrack song to Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves that takes me back to that infamous year. Spending what felt like 16 years atop the charts at number one (it was in fact a record-breaking 16 long WEEKS) the song’s cheesy love lyrics also earnt it an Academy Award but was the perfect accompaniment to a film that was (and still is to me) one of the guiltiest pleasures of the nineties. Costner’s intense and dodgy-accented New Orleans attorney in JFK from the same year was left behind for the dodgy-accented outlaw in a film which balanced both folk tale fun alongside serious issues of history, honour and guilt. Stealing the show of course is Alan Rickman’s BAFTA winning turn as the Sheriff which cemented his career playing legendary villains. It was also Rickman who brought in friend Ruby Wax to improve the Sheriff’s scripted dialogue. Also in on the act is a superb support cast including Morgan Freeman, Christian Slater and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio who all give a bit of a depth to the characters we’ve seen dozens of times before. The brilliant rousing music score was composed by Michael Kamen and was subsequently used on Walt Disney trailers and gives me chills each and every time I hear it. The movie contains a split arrow sequence that nods to Flynn’s 1938 archery contest scene, a Sean Connery cameo as King John (who else, huh?) and lots of laughs and action that entertains to this day. Having kept the VHS of this film – I think it was the first one I ever bought – I’ve always had a soft spot for it and although it’s so cheesy it should be served with crackers, the film’s tone is the perfect adventure mix of silly and serious.


Hood Fact: Everyone always dismisses the film’s geography – land in Dover, get to Hadrian’s Wall then enter Nottingham by nightfall on foot but…..if the cliff is just a cliff and the wall just a wall then you can land in Grimsby at 5am in Summer and get to Loxley near Sheffield in 62 miles which is just kinda possible. And that’s what I’m sticking to.


Michael Sales

By midlandsmovies, Nov 11 2018 09:54AM



Robin Hood The Rebellion (2018) Dir. Nicholas Winter


Back in 1991 two Robin Hood films were released with Kevin Costner’s infamous Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves going head-to-head in an archery competition with the lower budget Robin Hood starring Patrick Bergin. Now in 2018 we have a similar experience with the Hollywood blockbuster Robin Hood and this low budget UK film.


Here, the background of the merry men coming together is jettisoned, as a coda at the start gives us a few lines to set up the story – which to be fair, would be well-known by the majority an audience familiar with the often-told legend. We are then thrust into a fight scene showing the current brutality of the Sheriff of Nottingham’s men against the band of outlaws hiding in the forest. Some good drone shots and authentic location work set up the period well, alongside solid costume design. At least here we don’t get the blockbuster “reinvention” which (at the time of writing and only the trailer out) looks on initial viewing like a CGI mess.


In summary, the story has Maid Marian (Marie Everett) being kidnapped by the Sheriff (James Oliver Wheatley) forcing Robin (Ben Freeman) to rescue her. Sadly the solid beginning and competent shadowy and fire-lit cinematography is undone by some rather bland story-telling. The stirring music is almost constant throughout, which gives the film no light or shade. About 25 minutes in we get our first shot of a stone castle but this is the first major location change. It comes far too late and a forest is only so interesting to look at and the woods give the movie the unfortunate tone of a fan-film. Again, same music. Same locations. Same action.


The film reminded me of the worst excesses of Zak Snyder – it looks the business but slow-motion is used when not needed and every line of “lofty”, but too expository, dialogue is delivered with so much emphasis it comes across as pantomime-like. When these “trailer” lines (“we MUST fight”) are so commonplace, development is difficult as no-one has regular conversations that enlighten their character.


It could do with a huge dollop of light-heartedness too (the best Hood tales for me have an abundance of camp fun) and the film reminds me of the rather dour Ridley Scott version from a few years back. And a much-needed OTT cameo from Prince of Thieves-starring Brian Blessed is too little too late.


Sadly then, although the filmmaker has done well with a low-budget, the story just isn’t there to maintain the required interest and the dialogue instils little empathy with the characters. Especially with Robin himself seemingly quite murderous in this version. So despite some great location work and cinematography, those two fantastic elements alone cannot overcome the film’s flaws so it’s difficult to recommend despite its honourably good intentions.


5/10


Michael Sales

By midlandsmovies, Oct 4 2018 08:59AM



Midlands Spotlight - Mayhem Film Festival


The Mayhem Film Festival was founded in 2005 by filmmakers Steven Sheil and Chris Cooke and screens the best in contemporary horror, science-fiction and cult cinema from around the world right here in the Midlands.


And their forthcoming 2018 festival is no different. Featuring premieres, previews, masterclasses and international special guest filmmakers - as well and unique live cinema events - the festival has developed a reputation as one of the most innovative horror genre festivals in the country.


Running from 11th October to 14th October the event is based at Nottingham’s Broadway – one of the UK's leading independent cinemas and creative hubs.


Festival Co-Director Chris Cooke has an illustrious career by writing and directing Film 4/BFI funded comedy feature One For The Road whilst fellow Co-Director Steven Sheil is also a screenwriter and director. His first feature film, the microbudget Mum & Dad (2008) was described by Total Film as 'one of the defining British horrors of its generation'.


And with something for every fright fan, please check out the full line up for the 4-days below!


THURSDAY 11 OCTOBER

7.30PM - ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE + Q&A // Dir. John McPhail

10PM - NIGHTMARE CINEMA // Dirs. Joe Dante, Mick Garris, Alejandro Brugués, Ryûhei Kitamura & David Slade


FRIDAY 12 OCTOBER

2.15PM - THE WHITE REINDEER // Dir. Erik Blomberg

3.45PM - PIERCING // Dir. Nicolas Pesce

6.15PM - NIGHTSHOOTERS + Q&A // Dir. Marc Price

8.30PM - PUPPET MASTER: THE LITTLEST REICH // Dirs. Sonny Laguna & Tommy Wiklund

10.30PM - MANDY // Dir. Panos Costamos


SATURDAY 13 OCTOBER

12PM - ONE CUT OF THE DEAD // Dir. Shin'inchiro Ueda

2PM - PROSPECT - UK Premiere // Dirs. Chris Caldwell & Zeek Earl

4PM - NUMBER 37 - UK Premiere // Dir. Nosipho Dumisa

6.45PM - SHORT FILM SHOWCASE // Dirs. Various

9PM - THE DEVIL'S DOORWAY + Q&A //Dir. Aislinn Clarke

11PM - DEMONS + CHOWBOYS (UK Premiere) // Dir. Lamberto Bava


SUNDAY 14 OCTOBER

12PM - INUYASHIKI - UK Premiere // Dir. Shinsuke Sato

2.30PM - THE FIELD GUIDE TO EVIL // Dirs. Ashim Ahluwalia, Can Evrenol, Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz, Katrin Gebbe, Calvin Reeder, Agnieszka Smoczynska, Peter Strickland & Yannis Veslemes

4.45PM - THE WITCH IN THE WINDOW //Dir. Andy Mitton

6.15PM - The Flinterrogation in Cafébar

7.15PM - THE NIGHTSHIFTER //Dir. Dennison Ramalho

9.30PM - WHAT KEEPS YOU ALIVE // Dir. Colin Minihan


Check out the festival's official website here:

http://www.mayhemfilmfestival.com


By midlandsmovies, Jun 16 2018 08:21AM



Songbird (2018)


Directed by Sophie Black


Written by Tommy Draper

Produced by Laura C. Cann.

Triskelle Pictures


Starring Janet Devlin (from ITV’s The X Factor), Songbird is an enchanting new short following a female singer who encounters a wicked stranger set on stealing her talents.


A folktale that jumps swiftly between reality and fantasy Songbird comes from Nottingham filmmaker Sophie Black and her Triskelle Production company who has already seen success with the 2016 film Night Owls.


With a feathery familiarity, here our red-headed heroine is Jennifer (played with a subtle vulnerability by Devlin) who is dropped off near a forest at the film's beginning. But as she holds up a writing board which says “Thanks for the ride”, we get the impression that all is not as it seems in the woods today.


Heading into the countryside, the eerie sounds are well edited as the crunch of leaves by Converse-wearing feet introduces us to the tone of the film which mixes a modern hipster vibe with fairy tale folklore.


Cutting to 3 weeks earlier at an open mic in a local café, a chattering and chirping audience isn’t paying a great deal of attention as Jennifer plays a soft rhyming ballad with her acoustic guitar. A wonderland of poetical lyrics sends us down an aural rabbit hole complimented by Black’s potent cinematography with its dreamy visuals and hazy glow.


As the audience warms to her soaring vocals we cut to a set of crusty finger nails drumming on the bar to reveal an evil dark-eyed woman. Whilst Jennifer is spotted by a local producer, all looks well but she is soon confronted by the ominous lady in an alley outside the venue. As a strange powder is blown over her by the old crone she awakens at home, yet an uncomfortable phone call reveals her inability to speak. Black invites the audience to ask if this is a medical condition, but a visit to the doctor finds nothing wrong and her frustration kicks in with her vocal wings wholly clipped.


However, a handwritten book of spells and rune symbols is discovered and we are migrated back to the film’s opening as Jennifer begins collecting frogs and mushrooms to concoct a potion that perhaps can release her from this spell.


Black alludes to well-known fairy-tale myth from Sleeping Beauty - as Jennifer passes out - to Devlin’s auburn hair which plays to the imagery of Little Red Riding Hood’s adventures in the woods. As well as this, Therese Collins is excellent as a classic villain keeping her victim in a state of bondage with her incantations. She mixes a dash of Helena Bonham Carter witchcraft with fellow vocal-thief Ursula from The Little Mermaid as she incubates her stolen voices in jars amongst the trees.


2018 has had a fair share of similar cinematic encounters with fantasy voices, from the silent creature in Guillermo Del Toro’s aquatic fable The Shape of Water, as well as Duncan Jones’ Mute. Black tackles some parallel themes using well-shot special effects, gothic make-up and a superb choral score at its conclusion to deliver a bittersweet fairy tale.


Like all good fairy tales though, the film could be interpreted with having a number of symbolic undertones including an allegory of stage fright. As a musician myself, the fear of losing one’s voice can be difficult to swallow and here the film showcases a strong female trapped in a cage of insecurities.


Songbird is a tremendous short that shows the importance of voices and how they can truly transform and heal when you are filled with doubts and a lack of confidence. Sophie Black demonstrates a skill for the craft of filmmaking and, others take note, has created an artistic short with a raft of narrative to keep an audience captivated. With a selection of thematic and emotional beats, Songbird therefore takes flight with a magical trip from the mic stand to wonderland.


Midlands Movies Mike


By midlandsmovies, May 27 2018 09:44AM



Midlands Spotlight - Summer Nights Film 2018


Summer Nights festival as it is now in its eighth year and returns to its Midlands origins (as well as many more new venues throughout the country) with another spectacular line-up of outdoor cinema events in luxurious and fun locations in the region.

Highlights include a screening of IT (2017) at Calke Abbey on August 4th and Wollaton Hall on August 24th as well as Wayne’s World at Wollaton Hall on August 23rd. Party on!

Tickets can be purchased at the early bird price of £12.50 until the 1st June when they will increase to £15.50.


For the full line-up please see dates, films and venues below:


East Midlands


Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire – Fri 20th DUNKIRK & Sat 21st July MOULIN ROUGE


Bradgate Park, Leicester – new venue! Fri 20th THE GREATEST SHOWMAN & Sat 21st July DIRTY DANCING


Calke Abbey, Derbyshire – Thu 2nd PRETTY WOMAN & Fri 3rd THE GREATEST SHOWMAN & Sat 4th IT Sun 5th August THE GREATEST SHOWMAN


Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire – Fri 17th THE GREATEST SHOWMAN & Sat 18th August DIRTY DANCING


Wollaton Hall, Nottingham – Thu 23rd WAYNES WORLD Fri 24th IT Sat 25th THE GREATEST SHOWMAN Sun 26th THE DARK KNIGHT RISES - Mon 27th August BEAUTY & THE BEAST


Belton House, Lincolnshire – Fri 7th THE GREATEST SHOWMAN & Sat 8th September GHOSTBUSTERS



West Midlands:


Baddesley Clinton, Warwickshire – Thu 26th BEAUTY & THE BEAST Fri 27th TOP GUN & Sat 28th July FOOTLOOSE


Attingham Park, Shropshire – Fri 31st August DIRTY DANCING & Sat 1st September DUNKIRK


There are further dates and venues throughout England includng Surrey, Yorkshire and Cheshire


More information about these screenings and the festival can be found online here: www.summernightsfilm.co.uk





By midlandsmovies, Dec 5 2017 06:12PM



Random Acts and Rural Media - Part 3


In our third and final part we cover 4 more filmmakers who are part of the region’s Random Acts and Rural Media partnership. From all across the Midlands, please read below to find out more of the young talent the area has to offer.


For the previous blogs - Part 1 please click here and for Part 2 please click here.


Body Language (Nottinghamshire)

Michael Mante’s film shows a krump dancer performing amidst the ills, filth and degradation of his urban environment in a surreal art exploration of gentrification, classism and racism. Michael is an aspiring filmmaker, both directing films and writing screenplays with his creative ambition to use film to speak to audiences, ask them questions, and encourage viewers to ask themselves questions. Michael adds, “Visual literacy is the world's most poignant language and I try to use that to communicate the things I see in everyday life.”





Everyday Choreography (Shropshire)

Everyday Choreography is a charming short dance film by Caldonia Walton following Gerrard, an overworked 45-year old man on his way home from a tiring day at the office. He puts his headphones in to forget about his worries and finds himself amongst amusing interactions with two people who alter his outlook on life. Caldonia is a 23-year old dance performer and choreographer from Shropshire who creates dance work that links with theatre, text and film, using clear narratives about the world we live in realised through physical movement and a touch of comedy.




Yellow Wallpaper (Warwickshire)

Inspired by the short story ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by Charlotte Gilman(1892), this short film from Hayley Egan uses dance to portray the claustrophobic and cruel consequences of how ‘rest cure’ kept 19th century women compliant, which resulted in an increase in mental health problems and feelings of confinement and frustration. Through dance movement, our female protagonist will find solace in the yellow wallpaper, yet is driven to exhaustion by her frustrating predicament. Hayley Egan is young filmmaker/producer from Coventry now working in London.




Taking Up Space (Staffordshire)

Emily Mulenga’s animation covers the notion that time and space in the art world and academia are not often dedicated regularly to people of colour, most notably women. Emily grows to Godzilla proportions and takes over the city in this thoughtful short from this young talented visual artist from the West Midlands.









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 15 2017 02:03PM



Midlands Spotlight - Witchfinder General screening

 

The National Civil War Centre is screening Witchfinder General in the fantastic chilling atmosphere of its authentic Tudor Hall on Halloween night. With a great night promised the night has been arranged by the Palace Theatre and National Civil War Centre on 31st October in truly unique surroundings.


A horror evening awaits at the National Civil War Centre on Halloween night as the Tudor Hall plays host to one of cinema’s most horrifying cult classics, Witchfinder General.


Set during the anarchy and chaos of the Civil War, the 1968 film follows witch hunter Matthew Hopkins (horror icon Vincent Price at his malevolent best) as he conducts a vicious reign of terror in puritan East Anglia. But his persecution of an innocent village priest sets in motion a trail of revenge that escalates to a brutal, bloody denouement.


The sinister old world ambience of the Tudor Hall is the ideal setting for this 17th century fright night. Having stood through the turbulence of the Civil War when Newark was a melting pot of mayhem and violence the building is also said to be haunted by the ghosts of Lady Ossington and ‘the boy in the dorm’ and, during restoration work, a suspected witch bottle was unearthed from its foundations.


This unique and ominous atmosphere paired with the film’s unnerving horror is sure to be the perfect cocktail for a blood-curdling Halloween night. 


The screening begins at 8pm with the bar open from 7pm and will be introduced by Civil War historian and film aficionado Adam Nightingale. Tickets, costing only £5, are limited for this exclusive event so make sure to book early.


You can book online by clicking here or phone for tickets on 01636 655755.


Please note - This film is rated 15 so ID may be required and entry will be refused to any underage guests


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