Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul (or Joe, for short) is best known for his Palme d’Or winning feature Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, but his career is much greater than this. Since 1993, he’s directed eight cinematic features, countless shorts and a wide body of artists film and video work, that together, make up one of the greatest filmographies of the new millennium.
Film of the Month for July 2016
This film is like a painting. It forms a canvas from rocks, snow, water, wind, and clouds. Humanity is an intervention that tries to blend in with nature. It breathes in the wind. It tries to survive the cold air by touching, as if the wrinkles and the memories exude the warmth. I can watch this film over and over. I don’t understand it but it is just fascinating. The camera work invites us into the ritual, we are part of the alienation. The only thing I wish is that it was longer, so that there is the time for it to lend its weight onto the people inside the screen and those who watch them.”
Intriguing. I like that the film creates an evolving space for spectators. First we question the reality space, then the moral space. While we look at the women performing ‘dubbing’ the invisible men, we expect them to perform flawlessly to match the voices. It is disturbing to realise that we are part of the game. We take pleasure in the good ‘emulating’ skill of the women, that they are good ‘actors’. They have a physical presence but not their own voices. I look forward to seeing more works from Alice Russell. I hope she continues to use complexity of the visible/invisible nature of life & cinema to confront us.”
I wish it offered more association of the crosswords and film structure. It can share with us the collapse of memory, of language…reconstructed and collapsed again, like the cycles of day and night, like the rotating wind turbines. I like the layers and textures it provides. The filmmaker dares to use different techniques, merging colours, fact and fiction, the flatness of the newspaper page, to the depth of our surroundings. Its intimacy inspires you to go out, see the sunset, and shoot.”
Film of the Month for June 2016
Omer Fast is an Israel born, and Berlin based video artist turned feature filmmaker. Much of his gallery work involves restaging existing media, including CNN Concatenated (2001), a single channel installation that repurposes CNN footage; Nostalgia (2009), a three part installation that blends an refugees arrival to Britain against a Sci-Fi inspired dystopian alternate narrative; and his drone warfare inspired multimedia collage 5000 Feet is the Best (2011). His debut feature narrative film, Remainder, an adaptation of the novel by Tom McCarthy starring Tom Sturridge, is out June 24th in the UK.
I like the use of short format for portraiture and appreciate the open-ended structure. Also liked the casting sequence at the beginning and returning to it at the end. Wasn't sure about the sequence of the actress goofing around alone at home as it felt more contrived than observed.”
Contrasting analog film to digital music is a brilliant idea and I kept watching and wanting more to happen. In the end, the relationship of the animation to the beat could have been less lockstep and the imagery could have expanded.”
There's a great mood at the beginning and I'm all for voyeurism and the psychodrama of watching someone watching him or herself on screen. But I kept wanting to dive a bit more into the psychologies of the figures I was seeing in the cinema. Who are they? Why are they there? This doesn't necessarily mean pushing in a narrative direction but exploring all the seedy, perverse things that can happen in an old-school cinema.”
Film of the Month for May 2016
The multi-talented Alice Lowe is best known for her work with British comedy, as writer, director and actress. Having started in experimental theatre, Alice moved to similarly outlier screen material, starring in shows like Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, The Mighty Boosh and Beehive, and appearing in films like Hot Fuzz, Locke, The World’s End and as one of the leads in Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers, which she co-wrote. She’s also written and directed a number of shorts, some of which have appeared in Film of the Month; and has a feature debut on the way, a ‘pregnancy revenge-movie’ titled Prevenge.
I very much appreciated the pace of this powerful little short. The slowness really gave me time to identify with and become interested in the characters. Just a simple moment to observe a character gave me so much information. A bold choice, which only works well if you have good actors and have directed well for performance. Both leads were subtle and nuanced and very believable. I was drawn into the scenario and wanted to know more. Even though the plot pulled no overly obvious punches, I felt moved by the end of this film, my sympathies having been unexpectedly diverted to the perpetrator rather than the victim, as I felt her regret powerfully. Again, very subtly and deftly achieved with confidence in holding the frame on the performers. Showed great promise.”
A great comic dynamic between these two performers, which could easily play out well in a longer format such as sitcom. The plot took a surprising non-cliched twist, which kept the suspense and humour going at all times. It reminded me of an old Ealing comedy in the sense that it operated in a world where the criminals were very likeable, and the 'ordinary' folk were just as, if not more, dastardly! A very enjoyable and refreshingly surprising short.”
An interesting take on the meeting of a moment, when again, a perpetrator comes face-to-face with the victim of his misdeeds. Somewhat of a theme for these three films! An imagining of a confrontation, which like Broken Glass, leaves you in wonderment of the power of forgiveness. Very simply but effectively shot.”
Film of the Month for April 2016
Brooklyn based, New Hampshire raised filmmaker Robert Eggers is responsible for one of the most talked about debut features of recent years, folk horror phenomenon The Witch. Since its premiere and Directing Award at Sundance last year, Eggers’ film has been met with wide recognition across various festivals, critical acclaim and audience popularity. Now that The Witch is out in the UK and the rest of the world, Eggers is reportedly working on a modern take on F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu, as well as a medieval feature titled The Knight.
Cowboy Ben is anchored by a fantastically tormented performance by Shaun Dooley. His face is both perfectly haggard and perfectly child-like. The film is simple (in the best way) and confidently executed, with the tension building extremely well to the inevitable and satisfying climax.”
The song is great. The technical concept is strong and many of the tableaus were mysterious and imaginative.”
Film of the Month for March 2016
Mark Cousins is a prolific critic, programmer, filmmaker, and self-described ‘wanderer,’ known best for his 15 hour More4 film history saga The Story of Film: An Odyssey and youth-focused follow up A Story of Children & Film. In the ‘90s Cousins programmed the Edinburgh Film Festival, carried a 35 tonne portable cinema across Scotland with Tilda Swinton. co-founded children’s cinema charity The 8 ½ Foundation and hosted the BBC film series Moviedrome and Scene By Scene, amongst other activities. In recent years, he has directed a number of features: the D.H Lawrence inspired travelogue 6 Desires, experimental Albanian sojourn Here Be Dragons and city-symphony I Am Belfast, which sees release in the UK in April.
Classical and moving. Its camera work is much more precise than is usual for a film like this, and its themes - dedication, solitude and an almost zen-like approach to life - are profound. I will remember it. It shows how cinema can take us deep into the life of a person and, so, I think it is the best film.”
The devil is in the detail. The great filmmaker Eisenstein said that a director should move an audience's eyes around the frame. This film does this. It is relevant and unsettling, and has great sound design, too.”
Film of the Month for February 2016
Pegah Farahmand is the Editor for Channel 4’s Random Acts, their dedicated arts strand for innovative and creative short film commissions. Before joining C4, she spent 10 years at VICE, working with filmmaking talent such as Spike Jonze, Jonathan Glazer and Sally Potter, and overseeing the content from brand partnerships including Google, Ford and Nike. We’re glad to have one of the short film industry’s most unique influencers on board.
I think it's an incredibly compelling film, the tension between the main protagonists is almost painful and uncomfortable to watch - can't believe they were street cast. Their acting is so natural.”
A really simple film that tells us a lot with very little, Charity's character has depth and is played brilliantly by Charlotte Beaumont. There storyline feels really authentic and is really elevated by its flawless cinematography.”
Really interesting way of weaving narrative, I thought the relationship between Jack and Miranda felt familiar, although a little confusing at times and I think we linger on them a bit too long in certain scenes - I craved to see a bit more of the third character, and find out a bit more about his world.”
Film of the Month for January 2016
Luke Moody, Film & Distribution Manager, BRITDOC Foundation.
Luke Moody is the Film & Distribution Manager for the BRITDOC Foundation, a non-profit that finds innovative ways to fund and distribute challenging and important documentaries. Luke works across the film funds and filmmaker outreach programmes for them, as well as coordinating distribution of completed features. Recently, he’s worked on the Academy Award nomination features ‘Dirty Wars’ and ‘CITIZENFOUR’, as well as artist commissions such as James Bridle’s Drone Shadows and Trevor Paglen’s Code Names of the Surveillance State and Circles.
A major challenge of contemporary journalism is finding a narrative perspective that includes the audience and permits their empathy with the subject of the news. The clearly structured dialogue of this documentary portrait and composed imagery offer deeper emotional access to a story we have often encountered at an alienating level of simple facts and figures. If we’re to care more and act upon the societal problems that surround us, then urgent stories like this one, artfully told, will be a vital bridge to change.”
The intimacy and singular character focus of this portrait give a powerful sense of non-verbal, psychological journey that is so difficult to capture in cinema and particularly in such a short amount of time. That immediate sense of identifying with the character is emboldened by well observed introductory scenes and deceptively efficient editing. An all round accomplished tale of youthful frustration and perhaps regretful escape of familial confines.”
Somewhat paradoxically one of film’s most complex skills is simplicity in storytelling. This film’s firm achievement is its minimalism and controlled sense of sharing images to create an emotionally engaging character journey without a single word needing to be uttered.”