UK COMPETITION: The Double Life Of... (at BFI)
Saturday, 19 June 2021
JAMIE, dir. Esmé Creed-Miles
Who we present to the real world isn't always the person we really are. This eclectic batch of character-led fictions digs into true selves, concealment and catharsis.
Whether rebuffing other’s expectations, testing your own moral limits or reeling from a love lost, these films show interiorities spilling over into the present and how a double life is often lived in plain sight.
Including the directorial debut of actor Esmé Creed-Miles (Hanna, Dark River).
Programmed by Philip Ilson. 73'
This programme contains a graphic depiction of bulimia, drug use, suicide and some violence.
A job is just a job, but as with anything, time flies when you’re doing it with your best friend.
“Filmmaker John Ogunmuyiwa asks if our jobs define who we are. In the case of Mandem’s two drug dealing protagonists, Ogunmuyiwa goes against convention to fully realise each as personalities as they go about daily life and business from client-to-client. The film flashes from off-hand comedic moments of the day-to-day, to sudden necessary violence not normally associated with “work”, and its power is in creating rounded characters who can inhabit both worlds when required to do so, brilliantly performed by Stevie Basaula (known for playing Isaac Baptiste in Eastenders) and Bradley Banton.”
— Philip Ilson
A young girl struggling with bulimia and depression is contemplating ending her life. Preoccupied with suicidal yearnings on the train to her Nan’s, her journey is interrupted by another young woman’s death.
“Actor Esmé Creed-Miles makes her writing and directorial debut here which draws on her own personal history of depression. The story of a teenage girl at a point in her life where death never feels far away, minimalist storytelling and the stark cinematography of Gabi Norland deliver big truths through small looks and off-hand incidents. Creed-Miles makes brave choices in this portrayal, pushing the boundaries both in her lead performance and in what she chooses to show and not show. Although currently the lead in Amazon series Hanna, Creed-Miles’ instincts here draw a trajectory back to Harmony Korine for me, for whom she acted at just seven years old as Shirley Temple in Mister Lonely (2007).”
— Philip Ilson
HELP ME IT'S DARK IN HERE
There’s lots of instruments everywhere. And there’s a guy and he looks a lot like the guy in the last film, who was definitely not me. So perhaps this definitely is not me. Then there’s a girl. Who’s definitely not the same girl as last time. Or maybe she is? Then there’s a motorbike for some reason and lots of words and some narration.
“Processing text and emotion at (near-literal) warp speed, James Cheetam’s RCA graduation work chronicles the minute-to-minute erraticism of heartbreak and memorialising a relationship. With disarming candour and tongue in cheek, Cheetam scores contradictory confessionals of scrolling type and voiceover to increasingly frenetic saxophone, implicating himself as noir’s quintessentially neurotic unreliable narrator. A cathartic, wryly funny, and deeply chaotic rumination on the inconstancy of ‘closure’ and mourning a lost connection that continues to fluctuate and reveal itself.”
— Jenna Roberts
The self-contained cosmos of the golf course reflects societal structures. Although new 'tee girl' Isabel still has to learn the rules, she's already looking for loopholes to subvert the system.
“The minimalist caricature of Roy Andersson comes to mind in this deadpan drama from 2020 Berlinale Silver Bear recipient, Manila-born filmmaker Rafael Manuel. The film uses golf etiquette and the pettiness of country club politics to foreground class and power in Philippine society as new tee-girl Isabel buffers against the strict, and often arbitrary-seeming, rules of this rich person’s playground. These frictions mirror broader class frictions, and cinematographer Xenia Patricia sets up distanced long shots, using the artifice and symmetry of the golf course for ambiguously surreal scenarios, blurring seductive aesthetic with the uglier realities of hierarchy and marginalisation.”
— Philip Ilson
AN EVERYDAY ACT
With one terrible act, twelve year old Eric leaves his childhood behind in a bid to help his family survive.
“It is very difficult to write about An Everyday Act without giving an obvious spoiler, the film’s power relying on a knotty plot it’s best not to untangle before watching. Its director Scott-Whitfield is originally from a journalistic background and came to filmmaking slightly later in life, with his first short made in 2015. Having grown up in Thatcher’s ‘80s, experiencing a Liverpool in economic decline with high unemployment, this social deprivation informs his filmmaking, focussing on underbellies and outcasts while being fiercely political. Scott-Whitfield continues the tradition of an angry Northern socialist realism in his work, with parallels here to Jim Allen, the late playwright and close collaborator of Ken Loach.”
— Philip Ilson