October 2017 | The LFF and Beast in the Jungle

The BFI LFF came and went once again with me being too busy to go to much - what a shame!

I missed so many of the films I was hoping to see and the events I was hoping to go to.

I did manage to see three films - which is better than 0 films! I saw two fellow Torino Film Lab participants' projects. A first feature for Michael Pearce - Beast was the first press screening I saw, and the second was Sicilian Ghost Story a second feature for Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza - which I had missed in Cannes Semaine de la Critique. Both really good films I enjoyed. Beast was intriguing, building up intrigue in a Broadchurch style - death and brooding. Small neighbourhood, families and tensions. Interesting character studies - the bullying leading to bullies or tortured souls and revenge or bottled venom always near the surface.

Sicilian Ghost Story had a bit of a feel of Bridge to Terabithia to it. Strangely poetic considering it's in fact the grizzly story of a little boy kidnapped by the Mafia for 779 days before being strangled and body put in acid & thrown out to sea. The children ivolved are the main focus - and they are whistfullly bonnie and magical considering their surroundings.

And the third film was Lean on Pete - Andrew Haig's film shot in the USA. A story about a boy growing up in a dysfunctional trailer-trash single-dad family. Dad ends up getting himself killed so the boy finds himself on his own. The film is the boy's story (Charlie) who has to learn to look after himself. He's super sweet, so people take to him pretty easy, so even though he is in a harsh and desolate part of the States - everywhere he goes seems a bit modern-day Grapes of Wrath. What starts out as a story about a boy and a horse - how it might transform the boy in a coming of age-new-goal-for-moving-forwards-in-life kinda way, turns into more of a quest for a new substitute mom (at least someone to feed him and keep him sheltered): salvation comes in the form of his estranged (and hard to get to) aunt who he longs for. There were many lovely things about the film, and the actor playing Charlie was very sympathetic (Charlie Plummer), has a great face and is very watchable, I'm sure he'll do really well. There was a bit of a Dust-bowl They Shoot Horses Don't They vibe to the film. I think it was actually a quiet and internal portrait of Charlie with hard times, a horse, Steve Buscemi and Chloe Sevigny part of the backdrop.

And the reason I missed out on the London Film Festival this year, was because Clara Van Gool managed to get the additional funding she needed for her feature film The Beast in the Jungle from Luxembourg and we were busy with taxi cabs and foxes shooting a few days in London to make Luxembourg look like the UK!

Beast in the jungle shoot.png

Amazing to think we shot the pilot for that 4 years ago now - back in 2013, looking back on old posts. Such a beautiful film and so clever of Clara to think to work with talented dancers Dane J Hurst and Sarah Reynolds (both from Voices of Finance which we shot here this time 2 years ago) as the two mains John Marcher and May Bartram and Sam Louwyck as the Taxi Driver.

As ever with Clara and KeyFilm, we had to shoot a little à la guerrilla style - and we had a couple funny little hitches with the police! At one point where we were shooting outside the Ministry of Justice, a van pulled up and two high security police were deployed because we'd abandoned our very suspicious-looking 60s briefcase against the wall. I was amazed how quickly they came. All was well - though - and nothing got exploded, and no one got arrested!!

Lizzie Francke at The BFI and Simon Field at Illuminations Films have been great supporters of the project in development. The film is produced by KeyFilm in NL and co-produced by Amour Fou in Luxembourg.

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