XTS17 Film Reviews

Coastal Drift (dir. John Barlow. UK 2017)

Fired by a palpable sense of purpose, director John Barlow crafts an elegy for the lost identity of the British seaside town. His thoughtful, essayistic style is established from the outset with an imaginative collage of photos of the heyday of British seaside holidays.
The short compares and contrasts the vibrant, bustling Hastings of 1975 with the comparatively desiccated life in the town today.
Fittingly, this finely wrought piece of nostalgia was shot on anamorphic 16mm film. Coastal Drift appositely ends with planes drowning out the ebullient sounds of the seaside, the holiday destination of yesteryear. The film incisively depicts how devastating technological change can be.
(Joe Regan)

A Drowning Man (dir. Mahdi Fleifel. UK / Greece, 2017)

Within its first ten seconds, Mahdi Fleifel‘s A Drowning Man captured my attention with a bleak opening that brutally depicts a day in the life of an immigrant trying to survive in Greece.

The film begins to show us the bleak life of a character simply titled ‘The Kid’ (Atef Alshafei). A tragic hero repeatedly asking for cigarettes, food, and money clearly illustrates his ongoing hardship and dependence upon others; this is just a normal day for him. Fleifel does a tremendous job of showing his audience that immigrants struggle to survive even when they have left their country behind them.
A poignant and intimate film, A Drowning Man is an extremely relevant piece of cinema that is a lesson to those who are ignorant of the ongoing immigrant crisis.
(Matt Holmes)

Rudy Carpio's The Generator

The Generator: A ‘global’ first feature by director Rudy Carpio

Sitting down to write this review is an adventure in itself. One needs to re-enter the swirl of emotions, the cascade of events and the full commitment of cast and crew and relive all the wonderful details in “The Generator”. But let’s start from the top.

The mastermind behind the creation. The man who, due to unforeseen circumstances, allowed his sleepless 3 am wide awake mind to simply write.
Rudy Carpio has been in Europe for 16 years. From El Salvador, he travelled to Norway, Spain and then the UK (London). Along the line, he directed many short stories but this first feature film is his pride and he is incredibly happy with the result, even though «it’s very different from the original idea».
Asked to describe the movie in one sentence he quickly smiles and says: «virtual world meets human touch». And that’s where it starts to get really interesting.

The chance to talk to him before seeing any footage allows me to discover his favourite directors (David Lynch and Roman Polanski) and to learn that this creation was so international that the main actor came from Australia, the poster was done in Norway and the sound edited in Manchester. Talk about globalisation!

Filmmaker Rudy Carpio

 

‘The Generator’ director, Rudy Carpio

 

But back on track. When we sit down it is very clear it is an independently supported film we’re about to watch, but as the scenes unfold we are slowly taken in and our perception and senses are challenged at every scene.
The actors had only actions, a draft of an idea, and it was up to them to develop each character, maintaining truthfulness to the original concept.

Rudy, not only wrote and directed ‘The Generator‘, but also led the workshops where every scene was created. And with that, you have pure gems. For me, the stand out is Jane Hayward, whose eyes and steadiness tell you so much more many others struggle to show in overly done actions and faces. She plays ‘Mona’, and is present in most of the scenes I remember vividly.
The leads, Australian Wesley Forke and British Monica Wadwa, take the drama to its course and perform some heartfelt, and sometimes very technical-wordy, scenes.

Even though the narrative is sometimes hard to follow with many jumps between (let’s call it) “realities”, they do the best they can, leading us in the toil of emotions we are thrown at every step of the way.
Some of the shots are jaw dropping, and I can still clearly remember the beauty in the simple steps or the magnificence of the dinner scenes.
This is not only due to Rudy but to cinematographer Ariel Artur.

It is a great first feature for Carpio, and without a doubt, it will lead him to great paths, for the more he learns the greater art pieces he’ll create.
If you can, see ‘The Generator‘ and keep your eyes on Rudy!

(Tania P. M.)

 

Keep updated on the project through the following link:

FB: https://www.facebook.com/thegenerator2017
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thegeneratorfilm/

Sleeping Rough: A Docudrama about Journeys to street Homelessness

Pastles Productions, a Bristol and Devon-based production company, is undertaking a massive project this year to raise awareness of the true stories of street homelessness in the U.K. and to give a platform to voices that often go unheard.

The team aim to fight the stereotypes and misconceptions surrounding homelessness through their docudrama film.
Owain, the company’s director, has been working on the project for over a year now, gathering audio recordings with rough sleepers nationwide from Devon to Scotland and back again.
Having now cast a number of talented actors, largely sourced from Cardboard Citizens, a creative association working specifically with actors who are either currently or have previously been homeless, the film is now taking shape and moving into the production phase.

The inclusion of Megan Prescott, the actress who became a household name in Skins, and who has previously worked on issues surrounding homelessness, is also a great asset to the film, which hopes to reach a large audience nationwide through a circulation of film festivals as well as charities, schools and colleges up and down the country.
Owain Astles, the film’s director, took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to talk to us about the project and what he aims to achieve through it:

Can you tell us about the individuals that the film follows and how you chose them out of the many stories you heard while compiling the recordings?

Originally the film was just going to follow one male character, and was going to be shorter, but as we collected more and more interviews, with such a wide range of different stories, I realised that it wouldn’t be fair to just tell just one person’s story; it wouldn’t do justice to everyone we’ve spoken to.

Because of this, we follow three different characters;

Jack, an engineer who loses his job, splits up with his girlfriend and is forced to live on the streets, where he struggles with depression and bureaucracy.

Catherine, a young woman who moves straight in with her boyfriend after leaving care, but the relationship becomes abusive and she leaves, having to live on the street after having nowhere to turn to.

Eva, an immigrant who comes to the UK and is detained unless she finds a job. She secures a job, but it soon becomes clear that she’s being exploited and so she also moves out, having to sleep rough.

It was really tricky getting together a script for this, as it was so important to me that nothing was changed from the stories we were originally told, but a clear narrative for each character also had to be formed.

Each character’s storyline is basically made up of different events that happened to different people, but all the events are ones that have happened. Some events are quite common, for instance we spoke to so many men that moved out of their flat after a breakup so their wife or girlfriend (and often child ) didn’t have to; in the eyes of the council, this makes the man ‘intentionally homeless’ and therefore often doesn’t qualify for supported housing.
Other events, such as an immigrant that gets exploited in work, were more individual and less common, but no less relevant. Everything that happens in the film, however, is something that more than one person has experienced.

Why a Docudrama not a Documentary?

I made a 5 minute documentary early last year, just going out one Saturday, chatting to a few rough sleepers, editing the video together that evening and releasing it on social media the next day, just to test the waters. It got a surprisingly good response, with loads of people getting in touch. It taught me a lot, giving me ideas of how to go about creating a longer form film, what to focus on and how to tell it, but there were two principal reasons for making it a Docudrama.
One was that a lot of rough sleepers, for various reasons, don’t like having their faces on camera; while everyone I spoke to was more than happy to speak and share their story, there’s definitely danger, or fear, around being seen to be homeless (particularly if your friends or family might see the film).

The other is that, in this age of Facebook and short attention spans, a 3-5 minute documentary is perfect as a short burst of information, but it’s much more difficult to keep peoples’ attentions for as long as the film is going to be if the film’s a documentary.

Unfortunate as it is, our target audience is simply more likely to watch a 30 minute drama than a 30 minute documentary. It was really important to me, though, to get across the fact that these are real stories, and not to just write a story myself; for me, this would make the film lose legitimacy, and just not have the same impact. Therefore, docudrama was formed.

What do you aim to achieve with the film?

Three main things; the simplest thing we want to do is to change people’s perceptions of homelessness and rough sleepers, making people aware of the causes, what it’s really like and that ‘not all rough sleepers are junkies’. For younger people, this would also mean making them aware of the warning signs in case they’re at risk of homelessness in future.

On the next level, we’d like to get people engaged, writing to their local council or MP, going out and volunteering, and even just chatting to and connecting with rough sleepers in their area.

Finally, our most ambitious aim is to create legislative change, to change and introduce laws surrounding homelessness and preventing the causes. This starts at a local council level, where they can introduce initiatives around housing and other areas, and goes all the way up to Parliament, pushing them to introduce laws, not just helping the symptoms of homelessness and rough sleeping, but also preventing the causes.

Why Now?

On a personal level, I’ve wanted to do something around homelessness for a while, becoming aware of how much more common it was becoming (up around 120% in 6 years), but I was really inspired to start when I realised how negative a lot of peoples’ attitudes to homelessness are, and how ignorant a lot of people are to the situation.
In the UK, and globally, homelessness is at its peak, and we want to change that, but more crucially, we want to change people’s opinions of rough sleepers.

What should schools and pop-up venues do if they want to get involved or host a Screening?

Tell us! Getting the film to young people, especially in schools and colleges, is really important to us, to make people aware it could happen to them, and we really want to get it to the public to make them more educated about homelessness, so if anyone is interested in hosting a screening, a Q&A, a talk, or just wants to chat about it over coffee, let us know!

Just shoot us an email on info@pastlesproductions.com, and we’ll get back to you. We are open for creative submissions on raising awareness about homelessness at the moment and you can see one of the recent works submitted below by the fantastic Simon Tytherleigh, creator of ‘This is my home’.

Keep updated on the project through the following links:

FB: https://www.facebook.com/sleepingroughfilm/

Project: http://www.pastlesproductions.com/sleeping-rough/

Drop Dead Films chat ‘Feminine Incite’ and much more…

Simon Olivier and John Langridge kindly took some time out of their Monday morning to speak to me about Drop Dead Films and Feminine Incite, their short film, which will be screening at Crossing The Screen International Film Festival on Friday 4th November 2016 at the Birley Centre.

M: How long has Drop Dead Films existed for?

S: We’ve been going since January 2015 now and we are based locally in Eastbourne, East Sussex. We applied for East Sussex Invest 3 funding, via Locate East Sussex and were awarded a grant of £5,000 for start-up costs and since then it has been an upward trajectory. Of course, we’re really happy that our film has been selected for the also-local Crossing The Screen Film Festival.

M: What was the inspiration for your film, Feminine Incite?

S: As a writer, I am always wary of the way in which you can get so engrossed in what you are writing that you forget to participate in the real world. We wanted to talk about the world that is going on in your head, the world that you create. Also, we wanted to do this in a comic way. The ‘high ideas’ in a writer’s mind becoming a reality.

M: I thought it was really interesting when reality and the writer’s ideas started to merge. Could you talk to me about that briefly?

S: There is something interesting to me about authorship. As an author, you are the ‘God’ of that world. You are its creator. I was interested in exploring the idea of moving that power of creation from the fictional world of the writer’s work, into the real world in which he lives… to see what happened.

M: Yes, definitely, I thought it was a really valuable theme to explore! How do you feel about an International film festival on your doorstep here in Eastbourne?

S: We think it’s a great opportunity. We need to pool resources. The more of us there are, the stronger we are. There isn’t really a network in place between artists and filmmakers in Eastbourne at the moment as far as we know. That was why we were so pleased to meet you at the Eastbourne Chamber of Commerce. We noticed that there was a synergy between what you guys are trying to do and what we are trying to do.

J: We go to networking events in Brighton at the moment. We see a real need for networking events in Eastbourne. We got most of our crew from networking events in Brighton, but there are loads of talented people to be found in Eastbourne. What we need is an evening a month, where we all share ideas, talk about current projects…it really works in Brighton, so why wouldn’t it here? We’d like to meet anyone interested in film in the local area, from Producers to those just starting out… You never know who you are going to bump into or how those relationships could develop. I mean, in 2010, before Drop Dead Films began, I had a feature film script that I had been trying to get produced, and I found myself sat next to Nina Wadia (from Eastenders) and her husband at a mutual friend’s wedding. We started talking and it just so happened that they were looking to produce a film. So, the ball began rolling. We shot the film in 2010 and it came out in 2011. It’s called Four. Sometimes these things just happen!

M: Haha, sounds like it was meant to be!

S: Now we try to have as many projects and scripts in the pipeline as possible, so that we can begin straight away as soon as we access funding.

J: We have a couple of other projects on the slate, which we haven’t announced yet. But we won’t disclose too much just yet!

M: mystery prevails!

S: Yes, haha. But we do have a couple of features, which we are currently putting together: Hostage, which John will be directing, and The Dead Letter, which I’ll be directing. We like to take it in turns to helm a project!

M: Will they both be shot locally as well?

J: The Dead Letter will be shot primarily in Eastbourne and Brighton, but Hostage is a road movie, based between Yorkshire and Scotland. Evolutionary Films are our sales agents and they are taking it out to AFM (the American Film Market) shortly.

S: Obviously, it’s great to keep things local as much as you can, when it can work that way. But sometimes you will need to go further afield…

Why did you choose Eastbourne as a location for your business?

J: Well we’re both from Sussex originally. I’m from Newick and Simon is from Maresfield, but we have both ended up in Eastbourne, because of family largely. There is a huge gap in the market here and we saw a need to fill it. We’ve both worked elsewhere in the past. I was in London before, doing production work, and made a few shorts there, while Simon did a stint in Los Angeles, where he worked in production and directed some documentary. But we both came back here and we have had a variety of projects on the go since then.

M: There are quite a few Film and Media students coming to the festival and I wondered if you have any advice for people currently trying to break into the industry?

J: In terms of people trying to break into the industry, I would quote Woody Allen, I suppose: ‘Turn up!’ It is the only advice you can give in the film industry. Turn up, keep doing it, never give up…. you will work your way up. But you must be dedicated and be prepared to work hard! Take someone who works quite a lot with us, Ella Wood, she’s only 18 and she has already begun her own production company. She is working on a feature at the moment and she is about to make a short, which my kids are going to be in.

S: It’s worth mentioning that we have got a professional level kit that we rent and loan out, depending on the budget too. We just all need to get together and pool resources!

M: It’s great to know that you guys are bringing so much creativity and opportunities to Eastbourne. I look forward to seeing you both at the festival!

If anyone from the local area is reading this and interested in building a creative network in Eastbourne, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Crossing The Screen or Drop Dead Films! Just remember, it all starts when you ‘turn up’!

 

Check out the trailer for Feminine Incite to whet your appetite before Friday…

 

 

 

 

 

It’s coming up in just over two weeks !

Crossing the Screen Indipendent Film Festival -CTS FF-

is almost here!  We are really excited to welcome you all to the first international film festival in Eastbourne!
Here is a small selection of trailers of upcoming short films that you can expect to see at the festival to whet your appetite
…more snapshots to come!

First Film Trailer is :
1) Voicemail, Eric Brehmer: Narrative Short Films Selection (Competitive)

Then we have the Second Short Film Running
2) Bohemian Spirit, Stephen Lancefield:  Made in Sussex Selection (Special Category)

Last but not least the third Short Film is
3) Commune, Thomas Perrett: Narrative Short Films Selection (Non-competitive)