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By midlandsmovies, Jul 16 2018 10:19AM



Dark Days


Directed by Daryl Grizzle


A Grizzle and Steele Film


We open on a regular street as a lady leaves her suburban house to stretch before going for a run but there’s nothing regular about this new film from West Midlands director Daryl Grizzle.


As we track her in the park jogging, seemingly enjoying a pastime passion, the film uses narration to explain to the audience how difficult life is living with a mental illness.


Having previously created short film Bless You, which we saw at Leicester’s Short Cinema festival in 2017, the director here provides a portrait of a dark personal journey. With sequences of narration delivered direct to camera in small interview-style segments the film doesn’t sugar-coat the awful aftermaths of actions like self-harm and explores the difficulties of living with depression and its stigma in today’s society.


The film stars Jade Samuels as the protagonist who, as is explained in a coda at the film’s end, is actually performing a recreation of a real interview conducted in 2017. An interesting concept for sure but for me I would have preferred for this context to be given at the start of the film in order for the real truths to hit home from the beginning.


Our protagonist’s testimony continues as the tragic consequences of deep cuts that require stitches, and sometimes even surgery, are explained and delivered by Samuels in an honest portrayal throughout.



A bit more creative flair would set the film apart from the crowd as although the technical elements were first class - especially the park-based tracking shots, the serious themes were slightly undermined with a standard mix of handheld camera work in her house and some VERY long shots which pushed away from the much-needed intimacy.


However, the few minor flaws don’t distract from the story as a whole and we are told how she joins an athletics club before acts of divorcing parents and changing schools became a trigger during a difficult period.


Add to this peer pressure, bullying and name calling and we discover she gives up her hobby which is recounted as the thing that made her most happy. With some solitary bathroom shots there was also a small echo of recent local film HIM (click here) which covers similar subject matter and is worth seeking out as well.


The film is good at leaving some threads open to interpretation however and questions how these childhood events shape and sometimes control us.


And with the disease of depression becoming more fully understood by society as a whole, it is admirable that this film shines a light on a real victim and the very truthful troubles they have been through.


More of a monologue than a full exploration, Dark Days does hold on to the thought that although a positive outlook will not cure the struggles faced by sufferers, there is light at the end of this dark tunnel. Leaving the audience then with a message that sufferer’s journeys will be a marathon and not a sprint, it successfully focuses on how understanding and awareness will help guide people’s efforts in the right direction.


Midlands Movies Mike


By midlandsmovies, Jul 9 2018 09:30AM



The Second City Provides Instant Entertainment


Birmingham-based talent company Instant Entertainment has recently announced the signing of Bruce MacDonald of Boomtown Films. If you recognise MacDonald’s name, it’s no doubt down to his direction of The Perfect Wave, the 2017 true-life drama which gave Scott (Son of Clint) Eastwood his big break in Hollywood.


Also on MacDonald’s horizon is the September 2018 release of Samson, the religious/historical epic tale of lost love and vengeance, starring Jackson Rathbone (The Twilight Saga), Rutgar Hauer and Billy Zane.


As CEO Phillipe Ashfield told us, high on Instant Entertainment’s schedule is the focus on #Womeninfilm, where projects are being prioritised to promote equal pay and opportunities across the industry. The next such project is the Julie Paupe-penned Exordium a Peplum-esque film, which focuses on the parents of the foretold heroes of the Trojan War.


Altogether, this is yet more exciting news for Birmingham. The region has recently seen the #WMGeneration movement showcase the creative talent in the West Midlands, tempting Channel 4 to consider moving their production offices to Birmingham and Coventry in the process.


This is alongside the strides that Film Birmingham have been making in developing FilmApp, which has allowed high profile filming requests for the Second City to be fast-tracked. This, of course, follows in the footsteps of Spielberg’s Ready Player One using Digbeth as a dystopian location and internationally acclaimed series The Game doubling Brum for London.


You can keep up with Instant Entertainment’s developments via their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/instantEntertainment


via Red Bezzle https://twitter.com/redbezzle


By midlandsmovies, Jul 7 2018 08:16AM



New West Midlands horror short Monsters gets underway


Hot on the heels of their short giallo thriller 'All Bad Things...', which had its premiere at the 2018 Grindhouse Planet Film Festival, Midlands-based Vamporama Films is in pre-production on a new project, 'Monsters'.


This dark tale stars William Hayes and will be directed by Chrissie Harper, whose screenplay was based on a storyline by producer Steve Green.


With pre-production beginning in November 2017 the story is set in the “shadows of a ruined world, where a lone individual addresses an unknown audience”.


Are they his accusers? His judges? His acolytes? Well, Vampora Films hopes to draw the viewer into their dark universe asking whether he might be a madman or a messiah.


With All Bad Things (see Midlands Movies coverage here) complete, and the new production now well underway, the extraordinarily talented William Hayes is attached to what they describe as “a one-man tour de force”.


Previously William has appeared at the company’s regular film nights and in October 2017 he mesmerised an appreciative audience with a gripping rendition of Poe’s ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’.


With location scouting complete, Chrissie Harper is currently storyboarding the film’s key elements (see her promo piece above). Chrissie herself is a Solihull based filmmaker from the West Midlands who is influenced by Orson Welles and has previous experience in editing, design, film-making & video editing.


Having additional experience in illustration this has become crucial in the development of each of her projects including this latest one, Monsters.


Producer Steve Green is known throughout the Midlands with his film work for Made in Birmingham as well as the very successful Birmingham Horror Group nights in the region.


To follow the progress of the film please check out their official sites below:


http://chezchrissie.co.uk/

http://www.ghostwords.co.uk

Twitter: @SteveGhostwords & @VamporamaFilms




By midlandsmovies, Jun 22 2018 10:51AM


Presented by the Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival, the Birmingham Indian Film Festival is the UK and Europe’s largest South Asian film festival and returns for a fourth year with an entertaining and thought provoking line-up of independent films.


With one of the most diverse film offerings in the UK film calender, BIFF is proudly supported by the BFI’s National Lottery Audience Fund and runs from 22nd June to 1st July 2018.


This year’s highlights include a sparkling opening night red carpet Midlands premiere of Love Sonia – a compelling story of two teenagers’ fight for freedom starring Freida Pinto, Demi Moore, Rajkummar Rao and Richa Chadda amongst others. The closing night Gala features must-see Canadian family comedy Venus.


Their themed strands kick off with Female Eye, premiering the work of women directors. British filmmaker Sangeeta Datta’s gorgeous film Bird of Dusk is followed by a panel discussion looking at independent Indian cinema.


In collaboration with Birmingham City University, director Rima Das gives a Q&A with her uplifting mother daughter hit Village Rockstars and the innovative style of debut filmmaker Dar Gai’s Teen Aur Aadha breaks new ground.


Another strong festival theme is Fathers & Sons, premiering dramas exploring masculinity and the enduring complexity of father and son relationships, including In The Shadows, a dark secret story, helmed by virtuoso actor Manoj Bajpayee.


Meanwhile raucous British comedy Eaten By Lions has an Asian boy searching for his dad.


True to the festival’s mission to screen films about real people’s journeys, dive into their Extra-Ordinary Lives strand with amazing documentaries, dramas and shorts from across India’s far-flung regions.


From the South is Tamil drama My Son is Gay while Doob (No Bed of Roses) is a co-production between India and Bangladesh.


For full details and tickets head to the main festival website below and for the full line-up check out their online programme brochure (click here)


Official Festival Website: http://birminghamindianfilmfestival.co.uk/


Twitter: https://twitter.com/weLoveBIFF





By midlandsmovies, Jun 8 2018 01:02PM




‘BEWARE THE MOON’ RETURNS TO DUDLEY CASTLE THIS AUGUST


Dudley Zoological Gardens are again teaming up with Flatpack Projects and Film Hub Midlands to present the cinema spectacular BEWARE THE MOON.


Dudley Castle will be transformed into a vast open-air cinema for two special events over consecutive nights – George A. Romero’s zombie horror NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD will screen on Friday 3rd August, followed by the vampire cult classic THE LOST BOYS on Saturday 4th August.


Previous events have included spectacular screenings of James Whale’s THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN and John Landis’ AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON in the stunning castle courtyard.


Guests at BEWARE THE MOON can enjoy hot food, a licensed bar and spine-chilling special effects projected onto the historic castle ramparts – with organisers promising even more spooky surprises this year!


BEWARE THE MOON: NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (15)

Friday 3rd August 2018, 9pm

Castle Hill, Dudley, West Midlands,

DY1 4QF


Tickets: £10 (concs £8)

Double Bill Ticket: £18 (concs £14)

Book via https://www.dudleyzoo.org.uk/night-of-the-living-dead/


BEWARE THE MOON: THE LOST BOYS (15)

Saturday 4th August 2018, 9pm

Castle Hill, Dudley, West Midlands,

DY1 4QF


Tickets: £10 (concs £8)

Double Bill Ticket: £18 (concs £14)

Book via https://www.dudleyzoo.org.uk/the-lost-boys/



By midlandsmovies, May 28 2018 07:59AM



Midlands Spotlight - Birmingham Creatives Ready for Hire


Midlands Movies finds out about Talent Connect which is a new initiative bringing twelve fresh faces to Birmingham’s creative industry. It is the first time a scheme like this has been piloted, with a drive to help enable new talent to enter into the film sector as freelancers.


A group of 18 to 25-year-olds with an array of talents are to become available for projects that need immediate hiring with each participant having an online profile.


Once registered on their website, employers can access these profiles where they can choose a participant which fits their requirements and contact them directly. The skills of this talent pool are camera operation, camera assisting, editing, hair and make-up, lighting assistant, graphic design, scriptwriting, locations, administration, social media, web development and more.


Contracts are set up between the company and the participant, who have all set up as self-employed and Talent Connect contacted Michael Ford of Infinite Wisdom for his thoughts. “I would definitely look at this platform if I needed new freelancers, having already recruited similar talent through the Producers’ Forum in recent months".


Much like the Creative England Crew Database, the difference between them is that this forum screens its members which is a huge selling point for Michael.


Talent Connect has been created by The Producers’ Forum and Creative Alliance with the support of Creative Skillset’s Film Skills Fund, with BFI’s Film Forever National Lottery funds. Creative Skillset is the industry skills body for the Creative Industries.


The Producers’ Forum is an independent organisation serving the vibrant community of filmmakers and content producers region. Membership includes producers, writers, and directors and many others involved in other aspects of film & TV.


The Forum provides training, networking, and lobbying. In an industry currently undergoing profound changes, it provides a unified lobbying voice through developing strategic relationships with key partners such as Creative Skillset, Film Birmingham, Creative Alliance, and West Midlands Screen Bureau.


Creative Alliance, founded in 2005, was one of the first training providers in the UK to offer apprenticeships in the Creative and Cultural Industry, an industry with no previous history of apprenticeships.


For more information check out https://talentconnect.creativealliance.org.uk



Talent Connect member Fahima Khatun
Talent Connect member Fahima Khatun

By midlandsmovies, May 23 2018 02:01PM



Midlands Review - Blackmail


Directed by Shahnawaz


Blackmail is a short thriller by Birmingham-based filmmaker Sheikh Shahnawaz, who you may remember from our review of his other recent short 'Witness'.


In this tightly-paced short, Nisaro Karim plays a teacher who finds himself blackmailed by a mysterious stranger who has taken pictures of him with his 15 year old lover. At the mercy of his blackmailer, he has no choice but to comply with their demands… or does he?


Karim gives a fantastic performance, really selling his character's distress at being stuck in this situation. Make no mistake, his character is reprehensible and you don't root for him to get off scot-free, but this isn't one of those stories that needs a likeable protagonist. It's a gritty backstreet brawl of a story and you know that no one in this will come out smelling of roses.


The film looks very slick and you can tell Shahnawaz has great talent and a good eye for the technical side of directing. He keeps the pace up and the tension taut throughout, which is no mean feat with such a small story as this. His shots are simple, smooth and uncomplicated, exactly what this film needs to remain grounded and do justice to the intimate nature of the story.


I'm afraid I did see the twist coming, but I think that's probably more my fault than the film's as there was nothing to give it away and I have a bad habit of expecting and guessing twists beforehand (I blame Mr. Shyamalan). The dialogue is a little on the clichéd side, but it serves the story well and is pretty much what you would expect in this situation.


In all, Blackmail is an excellent way to spend 10 minutes and is further proof that both Shahnawaz and Karim are rising stars to watch closely.


Sam Kurd


Twitter @Splend




By midlandsmovies, May 18 2018 07:40AM



Cappuccino


Directed by Luke Collins


“All the world’s a stage” – William Shakespeare.


Never has the Bard’s words rang so true in Cappuccino which features a man with a stammer who faces the challenge of a lifetime in a new film from Coventry filmmaker Luke Collins.


Shot in the area with a Midlands cast and crew, Luke is a media production graduate making short films and music videos while teaching filmmaking at Coventry University.


This film focuses on a man, Mike, with a speech impediment who we see in the backroom of a theatre. A variety of mirrors on the wall usher the audience towards the reflective nature of the condition and how sufferers could feel they project themselves to others as well as the frustration within.


The protagonist repeats a mantra to himself, “breathe and be confident”, as a stage manager enters saying the theatre is a full-house. His direct and disparaging comments pile the pressure on, ending with an appalling “don’t embarrass yourself” final sentence.


As we move to the wings of the theatre, a confident woman exits the stage but it’s her furtive and judgemental glance towards Mike as she walks past that speaks volumes.


Juxtaposing the intimate backstage with a theatre performance is a great metaphor for the private and public pressures stammerers face and the film builds to a crescendo as Mike finally hits the stage.


Technical wise the short is well filmed although a shot of the characters on stage with a stark black background could have been better lit to heighten the pressure and add realism. Understandably on a low-budget film, resources are limited but the filmmakers choice of great actors is the main, and more important, focus here. Ross Samuel as the lead Mike delivers a heartfelt and earnest performance that is sure to hit very emotionally with viewers.


As Mike struggles to say his first word, the coughs and mutters of an impatient audience begin to reverberate in the auditorium.


The obvious parallel here is The King’s Speech but stammering has been in a variety of films over the years from both a clinical standpoint but also as a passing character trait. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Brad Dourif is one of the best performances showing the frustration and everyday hinderances stutterers face.


However, this film’s best aspect is a final twist where we get to see the true pressures on Mike. A revelation shows all is not what it seems and lays bare the real daily difficulties of the condition.


As part of Channel 4’s Random Acts, the film is an expressive look of a condition that has huge ramifications in sufferer’s lives. Cappuccino delivers its metaphorical message with understanding and sympathy and its simple but clever premise is what short films should ultimately strive to be. A joy from start to finish.


Midlands Movies Mike


Watch the full short on YouTube below:




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