Film of the Month: May Winners – Angeli Macfarlane & Femi Kolade

Posted July 5th, 2017 by Kakki Meyer

Our Film of the Month judges for May 2017 were Angeli Macfarlane (right) and Femi Kolade (left). Macfarlane is an experienced Development Producer and the founder of Script Cube who has worked with BBC, National Geographic Films, Creative England, BFI and more. Kolade is a filmmaker and educator. He has worked all over the film and broadcast industry including BFI, Film London, BBC Films and many more. Read more about Macfarlane’s and Kolade’s work and career here.

Both judges share their insightful thoughts on the top three films from May’s competition below.


Calling Home by Jade Jackman

Both Macfarland and Kolade selected Jackman’s film as the winner. Macfarland notes Calling Home  is “a powerful, very contained film that visualises a woman trapped in a single room; it uses in voice over phone calls with women who have been detained at Yarls Wood, which is a deportation centre for women. The sense of the loss of self is conveyed brilliantly. The ending two scenes felt they slightly belonged to a different film – one was back projection and the other a theatrical setting of the character in a lit square. But both also effectively conveyed the impact of war and being incarcerated. For such a tiny film it has a lot of impact.”

Kolade felt a similar impact from the film as he notes the film is “a simple, direct and affecting portrait of vulnerable women in a precarious and dehumanising situation. Locked up in an immigrant detainee camp, their raw unvarnished accounts provide an effective backdrop to heavily stylised visuals that effectively express the loneliness, loss of identity and severe dislocation of women who have arrived on our shores, often fleeing trauma, always looking for a better life and who deserve so much more than deportation or an indefinite stay in the soulless environs of Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre.”

Tiny Steps by Makalla McPherson

First runner up was Tiny Steps, a dramatic story about grief, loss, and love. According to Macfarland, “this short drama is the observation of a woman’s grief at losing her baby. It is visually very emotional and has a lovely palette. The film doesn’t really give up any reasons for the loss and there is no real story arc, it is more an expression of an emotion than a narrative story. But all the same it expresses a sensitive and empathetic eye at work.”

Kolade also sympathised with the film as “in the dead of night her mind plays tricks on her as she imagines herself with her child in happier times before the reality of her pain, grief and loss come crashing back and cripple her.” Kolade goes on to state that McPherson’s film is one “with a powerful theme that establishes a strong mood but without much in the way of character development doesn’t provide an effective enough narrative resolution.”

Check Please by Daniel Sorochkin

The second runner up selected by the judges was Check Please by Daniel Sorochkin. Macfarland praises this comedy that it is “light on tension and delivered with rather arch performances, this film achieves its soft-focus goal of making a joke at the expense of the other male character and his rather vacuous girlfriend.” She goes on to state that “it is probably too long and the ending could be seen coming from earlier. To have pushed the joke and really pulled out the stops to achieve comedy escalation would have delivered a stronger piece. The male characters were not quite convincing but top effort as an ensemble comedy is not easy to pull off.”

Kolade agrees with Macfarland that “the film stretches the conceit almost to breaking point and could do with being shorter. However a lightness of touch and a committed cast make this an engaging enough comedy short.” Although, he does also note that the film is “an amusing conceit taken for a jaunty walk. A waiter mistakenly delivers an engagement ring to the wrong table. Much to the annoyance of the young man preparing to propose on his three year anniversary dinner, the other man takes advantage and pretends his intention was indeed to propose to his girlfriend of only two months. All attempts by the young man to rectify the situation are comically sidestepped by the much slicker, confident, smoother other man until he finally reaches breaking point.”

Modern Tales is a new approach to support the creative and entrepreneurial development of fiction by BAME and women filmmakers. Created with the support of Creative Skillset and the BFI, Modern Tales is currently offering a training programme to 24 women and diverse filmmakers in the creation of features, web series and TV series. The programme will culminate in the presentation of the teams and their projects to industry professionals in Autumn 2017.  

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