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By midlandsmovies, Oct 17 2019 01:42PM



BAME female filmmaker sells out screening of debut short film Lost Identity


West Midlands filmmaker Ruth Holder is an ambitious, driven 19 year old who has written, directed and self financed her debut short and has now sold out the Mockingbird Cinema for the premiere. The screening, on Wednesday 23rd October, sold out in a week.


‘Lost Identity’ is a short, experimental dance film that explores how we change ourselves, altering our appearance and behaviour in order to please other people and the emotional and mental impact that has on us.


The film is deeply personal to Ruth who shares, “Lost Identity is a love letter to myself and was influenced by my experiences in secondary school. I was hardly ever paid any attention to, 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".


She goes on to add, “I was called names, punched and hit repeatedly like it was okay to do so and used by people who I thought were my friends. Despite knowing that what was happening to me was wrong, I deluded myself into thinking that it was okay because I finally got the attention I wanted, despite it being negative".


“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", says Ruth.



Credit: Jade Jones-Blackwood
Credit: Jade Jones-Blackwood

Ruth sourced a professional crew and choreographer and shot the film in the Old Print Works, Balsall Heath and is keen for the work to be seen by as many people as possible, hoping to be able to tour the film in schools and youth groups to discuss the issues in her film with others who may be experiencing similar issues.


This premiere event will be the first delivered by Birmingham Young FIlmmakers Network in partnership with the Mockingbird Cinema, which is working to create a collaborative community for underrepresented creatives.


BYFN founder Cassie Smyth says, “Ruth’s film is incredibly impressive and confident, much like Ruth herself, and really confirms our suspicion that there is a lot of amazing potential in Birmingham that just needs the space and support to shine and we’re thrilled to be able to facilitate that.".


Watch the trailer here:






By midlandsmovies, May 6 2019 04:01PM



No Guesses Found


Directed by Georgie Cubin & Jane Leggat


2019


No Guesses Found is a new short from Leicester that hopes to question the expected representations of dyslexia by confronting some mainstream, and perhaps commonly misunderstood, expectations of the condition.


Made by Georgie Cubin and Jane Leggat, dyslexia is a somewhat common learning difficulty that can cause problems with reading, writing and spelling. And this short experimental documentary opens with the clatter of pens being clicked and computers keys being whacked in a hurriedly-paced flourish of alphabetical confusion.


Mixing personal and performative elements, the documentary is self-referential in its style with its own cinematic language. It chaotically at times processes the narrative with lots of quick edits, stuttering cuts and descriptive images crossed with a host of interesting visual signifiers.


Although one “over-arching” condition, the film clarifies that the nature of the disorder can affect people in many different ways. And the filmmaker uses allegorical symbols to highlight its nature within the medium of the film. For example, a split-screen technique used often suggests the film is at least recognising some of the neurological aspects of dyslexia.


In addition, various voiceovers describe their real-life experiences. And a percussive soundtrack gives certain sequences a music-video feel – or a clock-countdown, perhaps inferring the pressures people feel they are under. With dyslexia sometimes being expressed as the “difficulty with phonological processing (the manipulation of sounds)”, the film again uses the symptoms to play with the structure of the short.


This unique combination is the documentary’s greatest achievement. It is a terrific creative conceit that draws you in to the (sometimes) confusing arena of words that sufferers face. Shots that have been sped up – but with our protagonist standing rigid – represent how those with dyslexia may feel the world is passing them by. Whilst the title itself refers to one of the voiceovers struggling to complete sentences when word processing programmes cannot autocorrect.


A successful documentary not just in style but in content, I have to admit I’m not always the greatest fan of what is labelled as an ‘experimental piece’. However, the filmmakers here have more than successfully used a whole host of cinematic techniques to deliver something special about a condition that could do with having its profile raised.


Reflecting the nature of dyslexia in the film’s style is therefore an inspired creative choice. “Having a better image of dyslexia in mainstream media and film would be fantastic”, says one sufferer. Well, No Guesses Found is the first in hopefully a long line of many to come and it’s bloody brilliant.


Michael Sales


By midlandsmovies, Apr 15 2019 03:05PM



Midlands Review - The Duology of Man


Directed by Theo Gee and Ian Bousher


2019


It’s not every day a film like this pops up and remains in your consciousness long after it’s finished. Whether this particular topic is popular or not, it’s certainly never been more relevant. Exploring the nature of human choice.


The opening scene features a businessman waiting for a train. It’s a relatable experience with nothing out of the ordinary at first glance. The businessman appears to be locked in a situation that he can’t control when we realise he’s being hit periodically in the kneecap with a hammer by a kid. Whether he’s too polite to ask for help or he’s genuinely struggling to cope, my interpretation is that this is a representation of mental stability.


The second half shows a heavily pregnant woman frantically running through the woods alone, looking like she’s about to give birth. An elderly lady just passing by after returning from the shops passes by and reluctantly helps this woman, who is convinced she’s not pregnant.


This was one of the reasons why I kept re-watching Duology of Man; it made me empathetic to the main characters regarding their state of mind and their complacency in society. Both parables show some form of decision to hold back during difficult and unruly situations, to which I am sure most of us have encountered before.


These little experiences test our stamina for putting up with many things, such as late trains, troublesome children, motherhood and ultimately society’s pressure on particular age groups and gender.


The beauty of this short film is that the interpretation is down to the viewer, and I saw a high relevance to the mental stresses of our modern day. At what point do you ask someone to stop hitting you with a hammer? Is it just easier for everyone around you if you weren’t pregnant? These are extreme questions for severe circumstances but I feel that nearly all of us never really show our true feelings during challenging times, and at face value, we just get on with it through convenience, whilst our mental health suffers.


Ian Bousher and Theo Gelenter; the co-directors of Duology of Man and their amazing team across the Midlands helped bring this passion project to life. “We wanted to make something that teeters on the edge – odd and usual, but at the same time just accessible enough that you can explore things and pose questions for people that you can’t in the usual way.”


To help illustrate the complexities of human choice, natural light was used to film the scenes to add a sense of realism. It encouraged a more engaging narrative due to the familiarity of it all, preparing itself for an effortless shift in direction to the more bizarre nature of the situations in question.


Originally this film solely focused on the first half of the story, with more characters and longer scenes. It was then stripped down and a complimentary chapter was added, making Duology of Man a superb pairing of analogies.


The cinematography is simplistic yet captivating, nothing is made too complicated or overly expressive and practical effects were used where it was needed. The tones were kept pragmatic, and yet, something remained surrealistic throughout. It could be that it’s set in an unspecified time and the surroundings are undefined – but not without a sense of familiarity. With that respect, I was never left feeling abandoned; you are in fact, swept in by the characters and their choices.


A lot of research went into choosing which pieces of music were going to open and close Duology of Man. The decision for immediate opera fills you with a sense of melancholy and the tone is set even before the first scene hits. As we see the characters towards the end finally break down, this looked like a perfect metaphor for the unveiling of the mask some of us wear for the outside world. The use of opera towards the end really helped emphasise the emotional intensity, and with the music being so universally empowering, this particular piece felt right to use.


All of the actors in this film delivered exceptional performances. They were highly complimentary to each other with no one over exaggerating their lines. Everything was accomplished with such a natural inflection, it made it easier to absorb and accept the story as it unravels.


Stylistically, Theo tells me, Duology of Man takes inspiration from the 2015 dystopian film The Lobster, by Yorgos Lanthimos. I found some similarities to the Norwegian film The Bothersome Man (Den Brysomme Mannen), with its approach to complacency in our society, making Ian and Theo’s short film a deeply relevant piece for today’s culture concerning how we reflect on our own behaviour, thoughts and choices.


It’s exactly what Ian and Theo had in mind whilst making Duology of Man; their message isn’t force fed, but it is left open for you to think and interpret it as you see fit. For me, I saw it as a manifestation of how complacency can affect an individual.


In the last scenes, both of the main characters from each story are stood on a beach with a calm sea, yet they are both depicting pain and suffering. The serene ocean representing society and all that it should be, and the hidden distress of regular people like businessmen and expectant mothers. I loved this film because it is left down to the viewers to interpret its meaning for themselves.


Sammy S

Twitter @IsoElegant


By midlandsmovies, Jul 16 2018 08:40PM



Shoulder to the Plough


(2018)


Directed by Nick Archer


A cacophony of strings and a blood red lava liquid opens this interpretive and non-conventional new short film from local director Nick Archer.


The shocking titles give way to a woman (Becki Lloyd as Vanessa) situated in an enclosed barn with red blood on her hands before she stalks the brick-walled corridors and reaches her palm into the sky – or is it into water?


Cutting abruptly between the stark images, director Archer has provided a number of metaphorical themes in a very ambiguous short. However, there are teases of subjects and ideas which are given more context by the Friedrich Nietzsche quote on nihilism at the film’s conclusion


Before we get there though, there’s a nod or two to Nicolas Winding Refn’s work with the bold colours, an atonal score and crimson coloured digits. Screams of a baby are edited alongside our protagonist in a pool of water giving the feeling of a metaphorical birth – or perhaps the loss of a baby? Again, left open to interpretation.


Later, walking silently within a field, Vanessa at times looks into the camera challenging the audience to bring their own meaning to each of the film’s inquisitive charms.


In one sequence a blood covered hammer sits in a disused cot covered and despite its sober and unsettling themes, there’s something of a fairy tale about the images shown. When a voice asks her what she is doing, the question comes from a man (Richard Buck) who is revealed to be spread out on an allegorical picnic blanket. An awkward kiss from her prince charming and a discussion on dream moments again wrap the film in an aura of multiple readings and asks us to question these dream spaces - or are they repressed memories?


Much like Aronofsky’s “mother!” the film wallows in its ambiguity as Vanessa recounts a dream of drowning in thick mud and as she does so, the man’s hand drifts towards her mid-drift and later towards the hem of her skirt mixing up parental paranoia with sexual sensuality.


But like that film, the woman’s dreams are interrupted with a flash of visceral violence before the return of the blood red liquid from the film’s intro.


Although quoting Nietzsche suggests the filmmaker is questioning structure (both in terms of narrative and the protagonist’s life), the short’s title could hark to Luke 9:62 where Jesus declared, "“No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”


Suggesting the only way is forward and not being distracted by the things left behind, I suspect the film’s ambiguity is there to prick the audience rather than provide any internal decoding itself. But that quote could be construed as an allusion to a past act that one prefers not to recall. And with such a sinful act, one would not enter heaven.


On a technical level, the film is well shot and the images composed to within an inch of its life. Tom Rackham’s score has echoes of Jóhann Jóhannsson’s eerie and mysterious Arrival score and throughout this film, the music soundtracks the disturbing images beautifully.


In summary though, Shoulder to the Plough is a short that intends to avoid simple representation and although one reading could be a possible insight into post-natal depression, another could simply be a literal translation of nihilism’s impulses to destroy.


Whatever audiences bring themselves to the short, they will leave with a vivid portrayal of some unspeakable act delivered using an ambiguous tone that permeates throughout the film.


Midlands Movies Mike



By midlandsmovies, Nov 27 2017 08:23PM



RANDOM ACTS & RURAL MEDIA (PART 1)


In a new 3-part series Midlands Movies will be showcasing a selection of films and filmmakers from the region who have been involved in the national Random Acts programme.


Random Acts is a collaboration between Arts Council England and Channel 4. The short films (from just 90 seconds to 3 minutes long) have been described as ‘bold expressions of creativity’ with each one being individually engaging, experimental and quirky.


For the last 3 years, local organisation Rural Media (click here) has been working with young artists and filmmakers right across the Midlands to create ‘First Acts’. And Midlands Movies will be focusing on a selection of these fantastic films created by local artists right here on the site.


This Movement is Silent (Birmingham)

This spoken word film is from Paul Stringer who has made a film covering the journey of an open mic performer from chair to stage through a crowded, passionate and engaged poetry audience. This is edited alongside a journey throughout Birmingham, past its great landmarks in a bid to show that the local poetry scene is not only the people performing the poetry, but the whole collective community as a whole. Watch his film below:





Re-Code (Birmingham)

Made by Sipho Dube, Re-Code is a dance film exploring themes of dyslexia and empowerment. Sipho is a spoken word artist and dancer and as someone who has both dyslexia and with a profound stutter, Sipho has overcome issues through the use of spoken word. Watch this thought-provoking film below:



One Rogue Santa (Kidderminster)

Another spoken word film, Steven Williams’ short is an account of a troubled home life that led to various stints in and out prison. Through stylised silhouetted sequences, Steve’s story explores the complexities of growing up without a support network and having to deal with the choices we make. Now aged 24, Steven has been homeless from the age of 18 and has been in out of prison 4 times. Yet now with two children he’s looking to become a better role model and is working towards becoming a social worker to help other young people avoid making the same mistakes. Watch Steven’s video here:



Meet Cute (Northamptonshire)

Chris Cosentino has created an animation/live-action crossover comedy where a conspiracy nut shares a "meet cute" with a nice girl but discovers he's actually a fictional character in a short film. View the short here:



Dirty Re-Birth (Derbyshire)

Joey Mottershead explores the part of the human condition where we are required to perpetually reinvent ourselves, to grow and evolve to new forms. “The reality is these moments happen in the darkest of places, where directions have no meaning and internal struggles amount to the psyche being ripped apart”. Joey is a live interdisciplinary performance artist based by in the East Midlands whose work explores gender politics, the human condition and the empowerment of the self. “I take inspiration from the beautiful aspects of the grotesque”, says Joey, “finding light in the shadows and portraying the particular strain of glory only found within sadness”. Watch the film here:









By midlandsmovies, Sep 28 2017 08:32AM

Midlands Spotlight - Paul Vernon


Midlands Movies Mike finds out about regional filmmaker Paul Vernon who has gone from the local to the global arena with his documentary, dance and short films.


From gaining a BTEC National Diploma: Film and Moving Image at Brooksby Melton College back in 2007, Paul Vernon is now showing his latest short film, Lost In The Nameless City, in the Chelsea district of New York as part of the Artists Forum Festival Of The Moving Image .


From small beginnings, Paul has now directed a range of films, many of which have been selected, award nominated and chosen to open and close film festivals and Lost In The Nameless City was the recent winner of the Experimental Award from the 12 Months Film Festival in Romania.


The film is an experimental documentary and photographic film interpreting urban space in London and combines black and white video and 135 film photography with an original minimalist score from composer David C. Hëvvitt made especially for the short.


More locally, Paul directed A Film By Abigail which was shot in his home village of Tugby near Leicester. Screened twice at Phoenix Square in Leicester’s Cultural Quarter - once with The Short Cinema as their opening film and also at the DocFilm Fest as well - Paul explains that his unique style saw the film screened in a gallery in Nottingham too.


“I’m deeply interested in cinematic aesthetics and form driven with passion to create unique varied films of individuality, tone and image”.


Although Paul has one foot firmly in the UK, and gained an MA with Merit specialising as a director earned at The Northern Film School in Leeds, he has always looked beyond the local too.


And it was "Abigail" that launched Paul’s work outside of the region when it was incorporated into a New York City school art curriculum and was an opening film at the 25. Internationales FilmFest Emden-Norderney representing UK films in London Shorts Special. Afterwards, the film was soon being screened further afield as part of festivals worldwide competing in Russia, India, Israel, Estonia, Albania, Egypt and France.


The film also premiered as the opening film of a short film showcase at BAFTA, screened in the "Best of Fest" at San Diego Comic-Con as well as the London Short Film Festival at the ICA and at the LACMA.


Find out more about Paul and his projects on his official website here: http://www.paulvernonfilmmaker.com


Watch the full short documentary A Film By Abigail here on YouTube below:



By midlandsmovies, Jul 10 2017 05:44PM


Midlands Movies Mike uncovers an interesting new experimental feature that combines the mysticism of folklore with the modernism of an experimental soundtrack.


Staffordshire set film The Doxey Boggart is a new film from John E Smoke who is a deaf-blind filmmaker, musician and artist. Set within a nature reserve called Doxey Marshes, the film is a semi-documentary which follows a group of people investigating the local legend.


From an experimental sound artist with his guide dog to his fellow esoteric associates, they seek to uncover the truth about a ‘boggart’ (an evil or mischievous spirit) that is associated with the area.


Director John E Smoke is the aforementioned sound artist and has performed in many unusual locations including abandoned buildings and a set at Mermaid Pool in the Staffordshire Moorlands.


During one particular session of his there were claims of a ghostly image being caught on film which went viral online and featured widely in press at the time.


The film mixes a slim ‘plot’ with real-life elements as the musicians perform a set on Doxey Marshes during which a folk poem about a boggart is recited. At first nothing untoward happens but after the disappearance of a mother and child “the team are left wondering if the recital has brought something to life”.


Following their investigations the film includes field recordings and footage and borrows from 'actual' local folklore relating to 'boggarts', 'bugs' and other entities.



One of the key parts of the film is the music which assists in supporting the atmosphere of the historic locations. John E Smoke has pulled together friends in the music scene to compile a soundtrack that includes well-respected members of the experimental noise genre.


Soundtrack artists include 'Tunnels of Ah' (the solo project of the former Head of David vocalist, 'Autoclav 1.1', 'Khost' (featuring former members of Techno Animal, Final, Iroha etc), 'From The Bogs of Aughiska', 'John 3:16', 'Ian Haygreen', 'Whote', 'Satan's Bee Keeper', 'Theresia', 'Raxil4' and 'James Hoehl' alongside field recordings undertaken by John E Smoke.


With a mix of documentary, sound art and a little bit of horror, The Doxey Boggart’s eclectic combination of experimental images and dark ambient music will be released later in 2017 and also includes the release of hand printed DVD and double-CD music packs.


For more info please take a look at the trailer above and also check out further details of this Sonic Entrails production over on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/doxeyboggart






By midlandsmovies, Jul 9 2017 01:13PM



Anarchy in the UK – The New Underground Cinema (2016)


Directed by Fabrizio Federico


Filmmaker Fabrizio Federico (aka Jett Hollywood) was born and bred in the Midlands and his new documentary features artists from Nottingham/Derby along with various cinema groups based around the region. Our writer Robb Sheppard takes a look at his new unique free-wheeling documentary.


Hands up…who likes a good moan about reboots and remakes?


The Matrix, Goonies, Big Trouble in Little China: as soon as one’s announced, the internet breaks like there’s been a Kardashian bum-cheek sighting.


Whilst many take to Twitter to vent their collective spleens, some have taken to the streets; cameras and mobile phones in hand to create the movies that they want to see. Labelled the Misrule Cinema Movement, it is centred on a DIY ethic towards all aspects of film: acting, directing, even viewing, which is where this documentary film finds us.


Catalysed by the abolition of the UK Film Council, the student tuition fees riots and the Occupy movement, this documentary serves as a manifesto for independent, no, make that underground filmmaking. How underground? Exploding Cinema vetoes festival submissions and selections, instead putting on guerrilla shows without licences; the Raindance Festival itself, is free for all, shunning press and VIPs in the process; Director Tony Burke makes film stars of commuters, it’s just a shame they don’t know about it.


Introduced through talking head interviews with the key players and inter-spliced with exemplar footage, it’s certainly a divisive watch. Imagine the film equivalent of speed-scrolling through your Instagram feed whilst at an illegal warehouse rave and you’re in the vivinity. It will either suck you in and inspire you or send you running in the opposite direction. And I imagine that’s precisely the reaction they’re after.


The movement posits that mainstream cinema doesn’t have all the answers; starving due to a lack of creativity and freedom, and if this is a position with which you agree then this documentary will be your Bible.


Shedding any sense of elitism or entitlement, documentary director Fabrizio Federico claims; “I decided never to study filmmaking, just to do it.”


Words to live by right there. Now let’s go make a film.


Robb Sheppard

https://twitter.com/RedBezzle


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