Category Archives: The Skinny

Absolute Denial: Ryan Braund on his indie animation

Some filmmakers have been very productive during the COVID era. Ben Wheatley (In the Earth) and Doug Liman (Locked Down), to name just two, have directed and already released films that first came to screenplay fruition relatively early on during the pandemic. But few can claim to have knocked out an entire feature-length animation, the majority of which was made after the UK went into its first lockdown period. And probably even fewer can say they not only directed and wrote such a film, but that they were also the sole animator. And that it was their debut feature.

Sheffield-based filmmaker Ryan Braund can, though. Absolute Denial, which receives its UK premiere at this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival, is a vaguely cyberpunk, black-and-white independent animation he was loosely working on in late 2019 in terms of scripting and general feelers, before properly throwing himself into its making in January 2020…

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I’m Your Man ( Maria Schrader, 2021)

Maria Schrader’s funny and touching I’m Your Man is a German romantic dramedy with light sci-fi touches that purposefully draws attention to its own artificiality and the (arguable) artificiality of many romantic customs. The reason? It concerns the growing bond between a sceptical woman and an artificial intelligence, as hosted in the body of a prospective humanoid partner…

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Ben Wheatley on pandemic-shot horror ‘In the Earth’

“We were the first people back and – whether it’s true or not – we really felt like the eyes of production were on us across the board.”

Writer-director Ben Wheatley is speaking to The Skinny over Zoom about In the Earth, the horror feature he wrote during the first few weeks of the COVID pandemic and shot with a small crew over 15 days in the early summer, as the UK came out of its initial lockdown period.

While Hollywood blockbusters with hired studio spaces – such as Jurassic World: Dominion – were able to resume shooting in the UK last summer after they had to hit pause, In the Earth was among the very first low budget productions to get going in late June 2020. And being first off the blocks had its pressures…

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After Love (Aleem Khan, 2020)

In writer-director Aleem Khan’s debut feature, the great Joanna Scanlan is Mary/Fahima, a British Muslim convert residing in Dover with her husband Ahmed (Nasser Memarzia), a ferry captain to whom she’s been happily married for many years. In the film’s pre-credits sequence, their gentle domestic harmony is horribly disrupted, however, when Ahmed abruptly passes away in his armchair…

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Fokus: Films from Germany 2020 Preview

As with almost every film festival in 2020 since the start of March, Fokus: Films from Germany, presented via a partnership between the Goethe-Institut in Glasgow and Edinburgh’s Filmhouse, is moving online for its sixth edition. The now fully-digital festival, running from 3 to 17 December, will be shorter and smaller than in previous years, moving from its usual late-November start. But despite the (hopefully) one-off format that won’t involve any cinema screens, the event should still offer an exciting snapshot of Germany’s contemporary film scene…

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Henry Blake on ‘County Lines’

A thoroughly absorbing though deeply upsetting drama, County Lines is a remarkable debut feature from New Zealand-born writer-director Henry Blake. Inspired by his own experiences as a youth worker in East London, the film explores how personal and economic factors lead to 14-year-old Tyler (the magnetic Conrad Khan) being groomed for involvement in the eponymous drug-dealing networks that exploit vulnerable children into trafficking Class A drugs, primarily heroin and crack cocaine, from urban areas to rural or coastal towns.

Co-starring Ashley Madekwe and Harris Dickinson, County Lines is a vital empathy machine concerning a difficult subject sometimes prone to bad faith discussions when it comes to the young people who get caught up in the trafficking. But with genuine cinematic verve and complex characterisation, it’s far from a didactic tug on the heartstrings.

Speaking to us at the Glasgow Film Festival back in February, Henry Blake discusses some of his intentions for the project…

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The Truth (Hirokazu Koreeda, 2019)

Following his Palme d’Or winning Shoplifters, prolific Japanese writer-director Hirokazu Kore-eda heads to France for both his first French- and English-language film, The Truth. While the locations and social milieus have dramatically changed, the filmmaker’s skill with powerful and tender portraits of family conflicts has not been lost in translation…

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Simon Bird on directing ‘Days of the Bagnold Summer’

Best known for his leading roles in The Inbetweeners franchise and the still ongoing Friday Night Dinner, actor Simon Bird delivers a gentler comedic offering with his feature debut as a director, Days of the Bagnold Summer. It’s a sweet coming-of-age film that examines the wobbly relationship between a mother and son over one long summer in the suburbs. Mopey metalhead Daniel Bagnold (Earl Cave, son of Nick) was meant to be spending the season in Florida visiting his dad, who has a new partner expecting a baby. When the trip is cancelled, his well-intentioned librarian mum, Sue (Monica Dolan), attempts to both entertain the introverted lad and help him get his act together, while also trying to come out of her own shell…

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Fokus: Films from Germany Preview

Now in its fifth year, Fokus: Films from Germany (running from November to January across the country) presents an exciting, eclectic snapshot of the contemporary film scene in Germany. The festival is a partnership between the Goethe-Institut in Glasgow and Edinburgh’s Filmhouse, but the two-month tour of Scotland also incorporates screenings at Byres Theatre in St Andrews, the Hippodrome in Bo’ness, Dundee’s DCA, Ayr Film Society and Aberdeen’s Belmont Filmhouse, plus the GFT as an extra venue in Glasgow.

The opening film – which screens at Filmhouse on 21 Nov before making its way to the other participating venues – is the UK premiere of Bauhaus Spirit: 100 Years of Bauhaus. The documentary, funnily enough, explores the history and lasting influence of the Bauhaus period of art, design and architecture at the time of the school’s 100th anniversary…

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French Film Festival 2019: Five highlights

From some of the cream of the Cannes crop to restored classics and mainstream hits, the French Film Festival is a much-appreciated annual event for the UK’s Franco-cinephiles. The 27th edition is packed with new works from heavy hitter directors like Bruno Dumont, Céline Sciamma, Quentin Dupieux, Arnaud Desplechin and Christophe Honoré, which feature such onscreen favourites as Catherine Deneuve, Chiara Mastroianni, Léa Seydoux, Jean Dujardin, Adèle Haenel and Fabrice Luchini.

The entire programme’s worth checking out, but here are five we’re particularly keen to see…

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