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Film of the Month for March 2017

Judge
Anna Biller

Anna Biller is a filmmaker whose work uses classic genre modes to talk about women's roles within culture, "coding feminist ideas within cinematic aesthetics and visual pleasure." Always working on film, she directed several acclaimed shorts on 16mm, before making 35mm cult feature Viva. Her new film, The Love Witch, has received considerable attention on it's festival tour before being picked up by Oscilloscope Labs in the USA, and is now being distributed across the UK by Icon Horror UK and the feminist-horror collective The Final Girls.

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Winner

The first shot of this confection had me hooked, with it’s pink and blue little ponies and pink plastic alarm clock. Sophie Ansell creates a girl’s world – a mix of a baby world and a world of sexual awakening and aggression. It’s a girl identity piece which both celebrates and mocks the shallow world of a young girl who is alternately charming and grotesque in her self-absorption and Lolita sexuality. It displays in a nauseous way through the exuberant personality of its deranged protagonist how young girls experience a total lack of power in their professional lives, combined with an unsettling real-world power in their youth and sexuality which they fantasize might even extend to being the mistresses of world leaders. This dichotomy that young girls experience creates a constant split between pleasure and pain, and the desire to never fully grow up.

- Anna Biller
Shortlisted

This is a quiet film that details certain moments in a young woman’s life, from her daily rituals, to a therapy session in which she expresses grief, to a date with a young man and her disillusionment with him, to her time alone in nature. There is some nice naturalistic acting and some beautiful cinematography. It feels like the sketch for a longer piece where perhaps more time could be spent exploring the relationships in the film, and more meaning might be derived from the lovely shots of weeping faces, astronomy books, and sunsets.

- Anna Biller
Shortlisted

A piece about voyeurism and listening, this film has an interesting premise, which is the dilemma an eavesdropper faces when confronted with domestic violence and struggles with whether or not to report it. All about its twist, the story calls for more suspense, which could be achieved by higher technical levels of sound recording, visual design, and editing choices.

- Anna Biller

Film of the Month for February 2017

Judge
Stephen Woolley

Stephen Woolley is one of British cinema's most respected independent producers, having produced more than 60 features over an esteemed three decade long career. Some of his many successes include The Company of Wolves, The Crying Game, Interview with the Vampire, Made in Dagenham and Carol. Woolley began his career at The Screen On The Green, Islington in 1976. He went on to run and own both the infamous Scala Cinema in Kings Cross as well as distribution company Palace Pictures with Nik Powell, successfully distributing British films from the likes of Mike Leigh and Ken Loach as well as international hits like Paris, Texas and The Evil Dead. Woolley now runs Number 9 Productions with partner Elizabeth Karlsen. His latest production is WW2 drama Their Finest, due for release on the 21st of April in the UK, which will be followed by The Limehouse Golem, written by Jane Goldman, and an adaptation of the Ian McEwan novel On Chesil Beach.

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Winner

Shades of Living deals with the loss of a child and the effect of this on a relationship. It’s quite moving and although the trick of the ghost child is quite apparent, it has a very traditional mode of filming and some very persuasive performances by the three main actors (including the child). My only quibble with the film is that it is blatantly obvious that the child is a figment of her imagination and as such, it’s a little over-sentimental and as I said, predictable. On a technical level however, it is extremely accomplished.

- Stephen Woolley
Shortlisted

The Truants owes much to the host of filmmakers that like to use handheld camera movements and a more freeform approach to the depiction of children and reality based action. The film is, again, a bit sign-posted in its drift towards a nasty crime which I was desperately hoping wouldn’t happen. So in once sense it really achieved it’s goal which was to keep me on the edge of my seat. I also wasn’t sure if it was scripted or if there was a certain amount of ad-libbing and improv going on which again is a compliment to the filmmakers. So I think it perfectly achieved its aims and it genuinely made me feel very sad.


- Stephen Woolley
Shortlisted

Flushed was definitely light relief although, again like the other two films, was based on the main protagonist’s anxiety. It had a strong element of an everyday nightmare situation which could happen to any one of us. Dangers of mistexting in a dire situation are always a possibility especially when, like the main character, you are in a rather exposed position! This is probably the least directionally assured short but it is also one that needs, by the nature of its comedic tone, to be formally and accessibly directed. Whilst it made me smile however it didn’t make me openly guffaw. Perhaps with a stronger performance and a slightly more amusing script it could have done.


- Stephen Woolley

Film of the Month for January 2017

Judge
Alma Har'el

Alma Har'el is an Israeli-American music video and film director, best known for her boundary blurring, formally innovative documentaries Bombay Beach (2011), about a small impoverished community in southern California, and LoveTrue (2016), a triptych exploring our perception of love and relationships. She's also directed music videos for artists like Beirut, Sigur Ros and Jack Penate, and made commercials for Stella Artois and AirBnB.

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Winner

It is always a surprising moment that awakens a filmmaker's faith in the power of moving image when they encounter a film like "Girl". The small aspect ratio that speaks volumes of the world closing in on this woman and the minimalism of her day somehow work together perfectly to poetically paint a feeling of isolation and the value of grace. Please don't wait for money and film school. Pick up your phones and find your voice.

- Alma Har'el
Shortlisted

What are the little thoughts that go through our head and the mundane actions we take when we have a crucial internal monologue? An elegant one shot that allows us to get into the mind of a woman at a moment that decides life.

- Alma Har'el
Shortlisted

A confident, tongue in British cheek film that captures the drama of childhood in the shadow of abuse through the lens of Sergio Leone.

- Alma Har'el