Set in a County Kerry fishing village, God’s Creatures is American director Anna Rose Holmer’s long-awaited follow-up to breakthrough feature The Fits (2015), with that film’s editor, Saela Davis, now joining her as co-director. “Two really cool, super smart young women from New York, who were very quiet but very powerful,” is how the film’s star, Emily Watson, describes the pair. “They ran a set in a way that they had this Irish crew eating out of their hand, dancing on the head of a pin.”
Watson plays initially somewhat doting mother Aileen, coming to terms with doubts and suspicion after providing an alibi for her son, Brian (Paul Mescal), when the young man – long absent from the community and recently returned from an extended stay in Australia – faces an accusation made to police by Aileen’s fellow factory worker, Sarah (Aisling Franciosi)…
Full interview for the BFI
Winner of the Sutherland Award for best first feature at the 2022 BFI London Film Festival, writer-director Manuela Martelli’s 1976 offers a refreshingly woman-centric narrative about Chile under the Pinochet dictatorship. It operates in a vaguely similar thriller mode to that of Pablo Larraín’s early breakthrough films Tony Manero (2008) and No (2012), while still presenting a distinctive and confident new cinematic voice.
Before her first screenwriting credit (working with fellow Chilean director Dominga Sotomayor on 2014 feature Mar), Martelli was primarily an on-screen presence, making her film debut as the lead teenage character of 2003 drama B-Happy. “I studied and went into acting because I was very curious about that world,” she says, “but in the back of my mind, I always knew I wanted to direct a film. I’d wanted to since I was a teenager, when I would go to the cinema a lot…”
Full interview for the BFI
In October 2022, the British film world was rocked by news that the Centre for the Moving Image – a registered charity comprising Edinburgh International Film Festival, the Edinburgh Filmhouse cinema and the Belmont Filmhouse in Aberdeen – was suddenly going into administration, with immediate closure of its various operations. At the time of writing, a shorter reincarnation of the film festival for 2023 has just been announced for August, through the support of the month-long Edinburgh International Festival, but the fate of the two major Scottish exhibition hubs is still in question.
That cloud looming in the east must surely have affected the organisation of Scotland’s other big film festival over in the west to some extent. That said, it’s hard to gauge just how much of this year’s Glasgow Film Festival programming may have been directly influenced by increased desire to showcase up-and-coming independent talent – whose films don’t necessarily have wider distribution lined up as of yet – in light of the abrupt closure of another crucial launching pad. Until an acquisition announcement mere days before the festival started, this was the status for director Adura Onashile’s opening-night film Girl, fresh out of Sundance for its UK premiere, which also happens to be a Glasgow-shot production…
Full feature for Curzon Journal
Returning to 22 venues across Herefordshire, Shropshire, Malvern and the Welsh Marches, this year’s Borderlines Film Festivalpresents over 250 screenings of 65 feature films and events between 3 and 19 March: a mix of recently released gems, previews of upcoming titles and retrospective gems, including several silent films.
Here are 10 to look out for during the remainder of this year’s festival…
Full feature for the BFI
Published in 2017, Lizzy Goodman’s Meet Me in the Bathroom earned acclaim as an oral history of the NYC rock and indie scene of 2001 to 2011, exploring how Brooklyn became a capital of ‘scuzzy cool’ in the wake of 9/11 and the meteoric rise (and occasional fall) of acts like The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, LCD Soundsystem, Interpol, TV on the Radio, and more.
Several years on, a condensed documentary adaptation now arrives from British directors Will Lovelace and Dylan Southern. They use Goodman’s interview recordings for audio narration, while the visuals are pulled from both official media like music videos and thousands of clips filmed by friends and fans.
Aside from directing music videos, Southern and Lovelace are perhaps best known for making the LCD Soundsystem ‘farewell’ concert doc Shut Up and Play the Hits, as well as Blur reunion portrait No Distance Left to Run…
Full interview for The Skinny
Back for its 19th edition, the 2023 Glasgow Film Festival– taking place from 1 to 12 March – will host 70 UK premieres, six world premieres, 16 European or international premieres, and six Scottish premieres at Glasgow Film Theatre, the city’s giant Cineworld and other venues across the city.
The festival opens and closes with the UK premieres of two debut features that just launched to considerable acclaim at Sundance. The opening night gala is dedicated to Girl, Adura Onashile’s Glasgow-shot story about a mother-daughter bond becoming fraught in a new environment, influenced by the matriarch’s struggle with a legacy of violence. Onashile recently made waves with BAFTA-nominated short Expensive Shit (2020).
Closing the festival is action-comedy Polite Society, directed by We Are Lady Parts creator Nida Manzoor. In it, British Pakistani schoolgirl Ria (Priya Kansara) dreams of a career as a stuntwoman, while also being suspicious of her big sister’s abrupt abandoning of her dreams to marry someone she barely knows. Something doesn’t add up… but is kidnapping your sister on her wedding day the right move?
Minus the two bookending films, here are 10 further festival highlights on our radar. As always, this isn’t an exhaustive selection and there’s plenty of films to discover in the festival’s full programme…
Full feature for the BFI
hen it comes to costume design prizes and the Academy Awards, the choice will almost always be between history or fantasy. The Oscar nominations generally favour period pieces, or the odd ‘prestige’ genre movie that’s also found love in other categories – Mad Max: Fury Road or Black Panther, for example.
On very rare occasions where non-fantastical features set in the present enter Oscar conversations for costuming, it’s usually for films where contemporary fashion is explicitly prominent in the story, such as The Devil Wears Prada. Luca Guadagnino’s I Am Love, set just a few years before its 2011 nomination, also falls under this umbrella, in following very wealthy characters who can afford runway fashion on the regular.
With this in mind, there’s a far less showy contemporary contender that was overlooked with this year’s nominees, but is no less crucial in reflecting the characters and narrative of the respective film. The tale of a married Busan-based detective getting too close to a suspect under his surveillance, Park Chan-wook’s Decision to Leave most immediately stands out in costuming terms with the sumptuous outfits worn by Song Seo-rae (Tang Wei), the wife of a murdered man, who’s being interrogated by inspector Jang Hae-joon (Park Hae-il)…
Full feature for Little White Lies
Produced by A24, The Inspection is the fiction feature debut of writer-director Elegance Bratton, who previously earned acclaim for Pier Kids, a documentary on young queer and trans New Yorkers coping with homelessness. A fictionalised depiction of Bratton’s own experiences, The Inspection is set in 2005, and follows Ellis French (Jeremy Pope), a young Black man who’s been living on the streets for roughly a decade, after being kicked out of his New Jersey home in his teens for being gay. With few options for his future, and partly in an attempt to reconnect with his homophobic mother (played by Gabrielle Union), he decides to join the Marines amidst the peak of the US military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” era, which prohibited serving LGBTQ+ individuals from disclosing their sexuality from 1994 until 2011.
Bratton got his own pre-college filmmaking start in the marines, thanks to an eventual videographer role, though The Inspection – a recent Golden Globe and Independent Spirit Award nominee – largely sticks to his onscreen surrogate’s time navigating a tough South Carolina boot camp…
Full interview for Little White Lies
It’s 1988, and bulletins report on Clause 28, which would see the prohibition of any “promotion” of homosexuality as an acceptable “pretended family relationship” by local authorities in Britain, including schools. Politicians on TV and radio – including Margaret Thatcher – justify the measures on grounds of tackling so-called deviancy. Section 28, as it’s more widely known, wouldn’t be repealed in Scotland, England and Wales until the early 2000s. Among its many repercussions were the ways in which organisations created to support vulnerable LGBTQ+ individuals were pushed into self-censoring or outright closure.
The soulful, textured debut feature of writer-director Georgia Oakley, Blue Jean explores the self-censorship of someone in an authority role hiding their homosexuality as the clause is introduced, when there’s heightened discussion of the visibility of queer lifestyles, exposing prejudices among staffroom colleagues who would usually just deal in idle chatter. P.E. teacher Jean (Rosy McEwan), who was previously married, works at a Tyneside secondary school a fair drive from her home, to keep her professional and personal lives fully apart. That personal life includes girlfriend Viv (Kerrie Hayes) and their circle of lesbian friends…
Full review for The Skinny
In snowy January, two men and a bird in a remote mountain cottage complex are greeted by a series of strange guests. Each one seeks an audience with Petar Motorov, the residence’s owner, who has disappeared in the woods with his sleigh. Then his horse brings back the sleigh minus its owner, but carrying instead a dead, frozen wolf. As various members of the group make their own journey into the mountains, the sleigh continues to bring back eerie, stiff wolves in the place of human drivers. What is going on? And is Petar Motorov ever coming back?
An international co-production, January presents an unusual proposition on paper: a black-and-white absurdist tale, with folk horror leanings, by a Bulgarian director who’s previously only made documentaries, and co-written with a British filmmaker who’s veered between fiction and nonfiction. Andrey Paounov (Walking on Water, 2018) is the director, with his co-writer being Alex Barrett, whose last feature was the modern silent film London Symphony (2017). Together they reinterpret Yordan Radichkov’s allegorical play of the same name for a universal audience. But, as the above synopsis may indicate, that doesn’t mean they’ve made it any less weird…
Full interview for the BFI