Saturday, 23 March 2013

Friday, 8 March 2013

Veni Vidi Vici [St Albans Film Festival]

On arrival in St. Albans it became clear that the town has been invaded: the purple, Clockwork Orange inspired branding had infiltrated shops, restaurants and pubs acting as temporary venues.

I planned to make the most of my filmmaker's pass over the three days. I managed to attend workshops on directing actors, stop-motion animation and the indie filmmaker's journey, as well as the 18 plus and student short film screenings and Jan Harlen's documentary Stanley Kubrick - A Life In Pictures before heading on to the awards ceremony and party at Havana. There were too many clashes however - in particular I would have liked to see the pre-release screening of Vinyl that opened the festival.

The 18 plus screening was varied - after all, your film can be 18 plus for several different reasons - sex, violence, drug references and so on. However many of the films featured blood, guts and gore - all tastefully filmed of course... I was happy with the reception for We Can Get You Some Really Cheap Gear and got some good feedback afterwards. Of the selection my favourites were Tim Kent's Two Persons Max for it's strong performances, and Saw Misgivings directed by David Lilley, a Saw-inspired black comedy.

I'm beginning to see how each festival has it's own feel. I was impressed by the St. Albans volunteers - not unlike the Olympic and Paralympic Gamesmakers, all the volunteers I met were enthusiastic and friendly, passionate about hosting a cultural event in their region, and even though I was only the maker of a film with a crew of four and a budget of £10 I still felt welcome. Incidentally I can't complain I was out-budgeted - the winner of the main short film category, Gracious Awakenings, was also made for £10.

Monday, 4 March 2013

The Pirates! In An Adventure With No Oscars

The Oscar for best animated feature of 2013 is awarded to Brave. I am in two minds. On the one hand, Brave is groundbreaking in many ways. A lot has been said about the character of Merida - a female lead is still a rarity in animation, and Brave's release is also a breakthrough moment for redheaded toons. Brave also succeeds in completely overthrowing the tired old Hollywood plot about reconciliation with father, by giving us a reconciliation with mother instead.

On the other hand I do believe The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists! was the better film at almost every turn: script, animation, artistry, subversive humour. It's a personal opinion but only one of these films took me on such a journey that I left the cinema exhausted, and it wasn't Brave.

The Oscars often reward films that are thought to be "important" for some social or political reason, and this is not necessarily a bad thing. Brave also fitted perfectly into the theme connecting all this year's winning films - gross historical inaccuracy, in this case playing fast and loose with Celtic culture. By comparison the psychopathic pirate-obsessed portrayal of Queen Victoria in The Pirates! is pretty much in line with most of the history books.

Cinema Just For Fun makes a good case for Brave in her review here, along with some great reviews of other Oscar winners and about a million other films.