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Film of the Month for December 2015

Judge
Louis Theroux

One of the most prominent and respected figures in documentary filmmaking, Theroux trained and worked as a journalist, before transitioning into presenting documentaries first as a correspondent on Michael Moore’s TV Nation (1994), then by leading his own series for the BBC, the highly influential Weird Weekends (1998-2000). Across series such as celebrity interview series When Louis Met (2000-2002) and the longer length specials he's made for BBC2 since (2003-2015); Theroux has taken viewers into homes, subcultures, workplaces and institutions around the world, finding humanity in the most bizarre, disturbing and unexpected places. New film feature My Scientology Movie (2015) sees him tackle his most formidable subject yet, The Church of Scientology.

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Winner
“Trapped in Transition is the winner. It is beautifully shot, there is a great balance of interview and actuality. The subject matter is more difficult and in some ways more familiar than the other two (albeit from current affairs stories) but the filmmakers gave it an intimacy and nuance that make it feel fresh.”
- Louis Theroux
Shortlisted
“I really liked the opening of Coven, the music track over the sweeping shots of the beach ritual. I enjoyed the two main characters. It's a good subject - Wiccans and Witches. I felt it was a good introduction to the religious side of the story. I found myself curious about the Mandy and Ian and the more day-to-day side of their relationship and their conflicts and wondered if this could be opened up more (if you wanted to expand it a bit).”
- Louis Theroux
Shortlisted
“Regarding Kuchar, I'd heard of him and his brother and I was predisposed to be interested in the subject. There is a lot here and a lot to like - the clips from the camp films, Kuchar's laidback attitude... I did think it was a little long and that it needed some editorial focus. I wondered if that might emerge more if we heard more from the questioner behind the camera: what the filmmaker is curious about. In a sense it's a duet but we're only hearing half of it. What came across to me is the epic scale and outlandishness of his output (a lifetime of prolific work) contrasted with this very cluttered apartment and down-to-earth man.
- Louis Theroux

Film of the Month for November 2015

Judge
Jeanie Finlay

Jeanie is a contemporary British artist and filmmaker who creates intimate, funny and personal documentary films and artworks; focusing around telling other people’s stories in a compelling and innovative way. Her most recent work tells the mysterious and moving story of masked singer Orion, the man that 100,000s believed was Elvis back from the dead in the award winning Orion: The Man Who Would Be King (2015), which is available on VOD now. Previously, she directed the features: Panto! (2014) and The Great Hip Hop Hoax (2013) for BBC Storyville, Sound It Out (2011) - a documentary portrait of the very last vinyl shop in Teesside, her Goth Cruise (2009) became the most downloaded title ever on IFC and Teenland (2008) for BBC4.

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Winner
“Great central performance from Ricci Harnett and some inspired music choices come together in an atmospheric and moving film.”
- Jeanie Finlay
Shortlisted
“Short, stylish, bittersweet - why can't all shorts be this short?”
- Jeanie Finlay
Shortlisted
“Delivered with a deft light touch”
- Jeanie Finlay

Film of the Month for October 2015

Judge
Sarah Gavron

Sarah Gavron most recently directed the long anticipated and critically acclaimed Suffragette (2015), which will be open this year’s BFI London Film Festival. Sarah trained at The National Film and Television School, after some years of working in documentaries at the BBC. Sarah made 9 short films and has directed a number of feature length films ranging from documentary to fiction, all of which have garnered her awards. This Little Life (2003) won a TV BAFTA; Brick Lane (2007) was nominated for a Film BAFTA and won the Silver Hitchcock Award at the Dinard Film Festival. Her documentary Village At The End of The World (2012) was nominated for a Grierson Award at The LFF and won the Prestigious Margaret Mead Award.

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Winner
“Our Lad is a very well made film that bravely tackles a complex, contemporary scenario. The central performance is particularly moving and understated. I found it hugely insightful.”
- Sarah Gavron
Shortlisted
“This is a very original idea - and it is beautifully executed . It has great humour - the production design compliments the premise brilliantly The actors performances work very well with the tone of the film. ”
- Sarah Gavron
Shortlisted
“A darkly witty piece. Cleverly manages to convey it's story through the visual language. It makes use of surreal imagery to great effect.”
- Sarah Gavron

Film of the Month for September 2015

Judge
Sean McAllister

Director Sean McAllister is known for his candid, frank films, depicting with extraordinary intimacy the lives of ordinary people. His more recent successes include the Sundance Jury Prize-winning The Liberace Of Baghdad, The Reluctant Revolutionary and the very moving Sheffield Jury Prize winning A Syrian Love Story. Sean’s work continues to inspire, to surprise and to fascinate audiences.

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Winner
“Beautifully captured story told in a new way, with great characters searching for a better life.”
- Sean McAllister
Shortlisted
“Well shot drama - I enjoyed the central relationship and performances. Good dialogue.”
- Sean McAllister
Shortlisted
“Inventive story told in an accomplished well shot way - I enjoyed the LSD trip.”
- Sean McAllister

Film of the Month for July 2015

Judge
Asif Kapadia

Asif Kapadia is an award-winning British filmmaker whose work has screened in major festivals and amassed accolades from around the world. His latest work is documentary 'Amy', hitting cinemas this month. Asif's previous work include the critically acclaimed documentary Senna, which garnered awards all around the world including the BAFTA for Best Documentary, and fiction feature The Warrior, starring Irrfan Khan, which nabbed the Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film in 2001.

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Winner

Great script. Kept me engaged. Some real tension and drama.

Like the contained location and the drama of the situation.

Nicely cast and shot. A strong film.

(Think about how to use the camera and sound to amp up the tension further when in such a confined space and the 'action' is off screen)

- Asif Kapadia
Shortlisted

Nice idea. Fun. Surreal. Excellent use of BOLD graphics!

(Look at playing with the pacing of the editing in the future to emphasise the surrealism even further. See how far you can push the envelope)

- Asif Kapadia
Shortlisted

Great production value and VFX.

(Just be careful that the effects don't become bigger than the story itself.)

- Asif Kapadia

Film of the Month for May 2015

Judge
Drake Doremus

Drake Doremus is an American film director and screenwriter best known for his films 'Like Crazy' which won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize in 2011; and the emotionally poignant 'Breathe In'. A filmmaker with some real indie cred, he has premiered more films in Sundance than out of it! Next up for Doremus is his film “Equals”, a futuristic love story, starring Nicholas Holt and Kristen Stewart.

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Winner

Asks a very simple question in a highly original way. Tightly packed with emotion and honestly. This short exemplifies what a great short can and should be. Makes you think about the question it poses hours after you've seen it. Precise, well executed and from the heart!

- Drake Doremus
Shortlisted

Beautifully shot with wonderful performances this felt like the beginning to a very good feature film. Kept you guessing the whole way through. I bought every frame of this as if it were a reality.

- Drake Doremus
Shortlisted

Delightful and sweet this short is packed with production value and human spirit. This is a fun and uplifting journey that I enjoyed being on!

- Drake Doremus

Film of the Month for April 2015

Judge
David Oyelowo

David Oyelowo is an acclaimed English Actor whose past films range from indie darlings to blockbuster greats with roles in ‘A Most Violent Year’, ‘The Butler’, ‘The Paperboy’, ‘Interstellar’, and ‘Lincoln’. Most recently he blew away critics and audiences alike with his powerful, Golden Globe nominated performance as Dr. Martin Luther King in this past years Oscar nominated film ‘Selma’.

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Winner

This is a tender, imaginative and truthful take on the joys and challenges of caring for an impaired loved one. I was surprised and moved.

- David Oyelowo
Shortlisted

Beautifully performed and nicely shot, this film satisfyingly and impressively plumbs deep emotional depths in a very short time.

- David Oyelowo
Shortlisted

A sweet story about words that may have benefited from less words and a bit more onscreen chemistry.

- David Oyelowo

Film of the Month for February 2015

Judge
Jack Thorne

Jack Thorne is an English Screenwriter. His first feature film, 'The Scouting Guide Book For Boys', won him the Best Newcomer at BFI London Film Festival. He has also written for notable TV Shows such as 'Skins', 'Shameless', 'This Is England 86, 88', 'The Fades' and the recent E4 programme 'Glue'. His short film 'A Supermarket Love Song' was made through Shooting People: "The first short I ever made was as a result of a posting on Shooting People. Ended up going to Sundance. Great times." - Jack

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Winner

A great short that really uses everything at it’s disposal. I loved the use of sound and music to take us into other worlds. Maybe I’m bias as an ex-McDonald’s employee but I found it really touching too - the first of a new genre of fast food romances perhaps. Exceptional lead performance by Thea Beyleveld too - full of intensity and longing, she’s got a real Anne-Marie Duff quality to her.

- Jack Thorne
Shortlisted

A hymn in praise of Woking. Nicely written and shot with a real efficiency. A sort of Before Sunrise for the home counties- and it even allowed itself a happy ending, which I think is quite rare in shorts. Oh, and I now really want to see the War of the Worlds tripod in Woking.

- Jack Thorne
Shortlisted

I thought this had a lovely tone and sense of place and admired it’s silence, it really had a confidence in what it was trying to say and do.

- Jack Thorne

Film of the Month for January 2015

Judge
Desiree Akhavan

Desiree Akhavan is an American film director and screenwriter best known for her web series 'The Slope' and her 2014 feature film debut 'Appropriate Behaviour'. She won the Grand Jury Prize for Appropriate Behaviour at the San Diego Asian Film Festival and 'The Slope' is being screened at LSFF this month.

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Winner

Great premise- I love the balance of this story being both absurd while also within the realm of possibility. This is especially emphasized by the warmth you feel radiating off the woman. It almost seems perfectly fair she’s robbing him blind. One note: I don't think the last scene was necessary, as I already felt he'd been changed by the experience.

- Desiree Akhavan
Shortlisted

Sweet and economic with it’s time- gets to the heart of the story quick and effectively and ends with such a satisfying moment.

- Desiree Akhavan
Shortlisted

Moments: I love the concept of shooting a live action Disney musical. The production value was fantastic and the scope of the film and dance sequences was very impressive.

- Desiree Akhavan