Festival Focus: Underwire Festival 2017 Preview

Posted October 17th, 2017 by Mark Ryan

London’s Underwire is a celebration of the best of the UK film industry’s female talent, and this year’s festival is fast approaching. We are thrilled to learn that several of our very own Shooters have films in the bill, so we’ve compiled a list of events to look out for if you’re attending.

If documentary is your thing, nothing short of intriguing is Laura McGann’s feature Revolutions, documenting the Irish women’s Roller Derby scene. The film follows the womens motives for being involved in the high-octane, often violent sport; for some it was a coping mechanisms for the impact the recession had on their lives, for others it was a way of forming friendships when they were at their lowest points. Filmed over a four year period, we see the women progress and build their character and skills as they train for the first ever Roller Derby World Cup. You can catch Revolutions at Curzon Aldgate, 6pm, Saturday 25th November.

If Irish Roller Derby isn’t obscure enough for you, then look no further than Sofia Olin and Christopher Herd’s Lost in Vagueness; a feature doc on Glastonbury’s first, and possibly wildest (even to this day), after hours area. A psychedelic mix of cabaret, 50’s kitch, and burlesque freak show aesthetics, the arena was notorious for it’s outrageous antics, (one act known as The Mouse gave herself a dog-food enema live on stage), to the extent that it had to be shut down in 2009. The film explores the tense relationship between Lost Vagueness founder Roy Gurvitz and Glastonbury owner Michael Eavis, and is a fitting tribute to the resilience of a haven where many who felt persecuted in society could feel comfortable and let loose. The event will include a special performance preceding the screening, after party and a Q&A with director Sofia Olins. Starting 6:45pm, Curzon Aldgate, Thursday 24th November.

More inspiring stories can be found in the ‘Women at War’ shorts programme; a collection of shorts about women who are determined to take back control in their lives. First up is I Don’t Protest, I Just Dance In My Shadow, a visual essay film by artist-animator, Jessica Ashman, about being a black woman in a white dominated industry, using a collection of interviews and mixed media techniques to weave an engaging narrative. Following is Rebecca Manley’s poignant animation on environmental damage, Now You See It, featuring the voice talent of Ewan McGregor. Up next is National Anthem, produced by Isabel Steuble-Johnson; a black comedy on a controversial subject; the border control citizenship test. Only My Voice, edited by Alice Powell, is up next, a short doc in which migrant women share their dreams and aspirations. Later comes the Robyn Forsythe produced Never Land, a comedy of errors featuring a young boy and his next door neighbour who attempt to sail to the Netherlands in a bathtub. If you want to catch this eclectic mix, make sure you’re at the Barbican Cinema 6:45pm, Friday 24th November.

Eclectic certainly also applies to Kate Herron’s filmography, presented as ‘Tentacles Are Included‘. Underwire have described her films as a ‘staple’ of the festival since its inception; weaving effortlessly between genres yet with a distinct cinematic voice. If you want to see what happens when a group of super-fans break into a 90s pop-star’s house, see a sci-fi made in 48 hours, or a horror-comedy about smear tests, head on down to BFI Southbank, Thursday 23rd November, 8:30pm. A Q&A also follows the screening.

If this selection so far isn’t dark enough for you, don’t fear; or rather… do… as the Walking Home Alone at Night programme should chill you to the core! Highlights include Cat Davies produced horror comedy Blood Shed, about a husband and wife who face a dilemma when their shed starts to violently consume people; Rachel Wood’s Kiss the Devil, about a manuscript editor who’s work begins to, literally, take over her life; Natasha Austin-Green’s unusual, provocative necrophilia documentary Dead.Tissue.Love; and  SP’s favourite animated horror, Don’t Think of a Pink Elephant, by Suraya Raj, about a teenage girl fighting against irrational impulses. Head on down to Prince Charles Cinema Friday 24th November, 8:45. The screening is also followed by a filmmaker Q & A.

Underwire Festival takes place 22nd-26th November, across London, and is not one to miss.





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