As the lockdown continues, it’s time to take another look at some recent and upcoming online viewing activity to keep you connected to film culture.
Released by Verve, The Uncertain Kingdom was due to premiere at HOME and is now available on BFI Player. It’s a two-volume compilation of British shorts, billed as “a new and urgent anthology… offering a unique snapshot of the UK in 2020”. In the first volume, filmmakers include Hope Dickson Leach (The Levelling), Antonia Campbell-Hughes and Ray Panthaki. Volume Two, also available at BFI Player, includes shorts by Mark Jenkin (Bait) and Jason Wingard (Eaten by Lions).
New to Curzon is Canadian auteur Atom Egoyan’s Guest of Honour. Ignore the middling reviews, it’s worth seeking out. A father and daughter attempt to work through their complicated relationship, secret histories, and personal demons, in the director’s latest exploration of unresolved personal trauma and its unintended consequences. Driven by a memorable and moving turn by David Thewlis, Guest of Honour shares many significant tropes with Egoyan’s signature films – The Adjuster, Exotica, The Sweet Hereafter, Ararat, The Captive and many more – most notably a protagonist who, while professionally charged with protecting society, is undergoing personal turmoil that prevents him from fulfilling his duty. As often is the case with Egoyan’s films, the pain is all too real, but the characters’ attempts to deal with their suffering are forlorn, desperate, and sometimes comic. The film is the centrepiece of the annual Canada Now season presented by Telefilm Canada.
Spike Lee’s timely Da 5 Bloods lands exclusively on Netflix. Delroy Lindo stars as one of four African-American Vietnam war veterans who return to Vietnam seeking the remains of their fallen squad leader (Chadwick Boseman) and the gold fortune he helped them hide. Da 5 Bloods had been selected to play in the Cannes Film Festival, where Lee was jury president. Also worth seeking out on YouTube is Spike Lee’s impassioned response to the murder of George Floyd. Here on the HOME website you can find a list of recommended titles that speak to the current situation in the U.K and the U.S regarding police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Documentary specialist Dogwoof, releases The Australian Dream, telling the story of Aboriginal Australian Rules football star, Adam Goodes. The film premiered at the Melbourne International Film Festival last August, going on to berths at Telluride, Toronto and BFI London. Director Daniel Gordon is a real talent to watch. Another doc joining The Australian Dream is Bulldog’s You Don’t Nomi, which traces the redemptive journey from notorious flop to cult classic for Paul Verhoeven’s 1995 film Showgirls. Altitude release the directorial debut of Simon Bird, Days of the Bagnold Summer. Based on the graphic novel by Joff Winterhart, it’s an engaging and bittersweet tale, driven by strong performances from Monica Dolan and Earl Cave.
Perhaps most excitingly Sheffield Doc/Fest, which had originally been scheduled to run from June 4-9, has announced its programme for its virtual edition, comprising 115 films of all lengths. The programme is available to view at the Sheffield Doc/Fest Selects VOD platform with pay-per-view and subscription options for UK-based public audiences, launching June 10. The Doc/Player industry-oriented video library is available now to festival passholders globally, and remains open until August 31. In addition, Doc/Fest has partnered with BFI Player, Doc Alliance Films, The Guardian and MUBI who will host curated programmes at various points between July and November. HOME will also partner on the festival.
One of the UK’s most vital distributors, Second Run, also launched its own On Demand service, a service intended to showcase the best in world cinema and help independent cultural venues. Second Run founder Mehelli Modi explains: “We felt that the answer was to first create a new VOD service, providing the option to rent our releases directly from Second Run. Then, and most importantly, from each and every rental we would give an equal share from our proceeds to a selection of independent cinemas that have been forced to close. This is a contribution with our thanks to those cinemas which have to remain dark at the moment. We hope this will amount to something helpful and will reflect how important an independent cinema is to communities everywhere.” Each month Second Run will present an evolving mix of world cinema, guided by their ethos of bringing important, challenging and entertaining classic and contemporary films to discerning viewers at the special price of £4.99 per title. Selected UK and Eire independent cinemas will receive a share from each rental fee.
Daisies – a film by Věra Chytilová / Czechoslovakia, 1966
Dawson City: Frozen Time – a film by Bill Morrison / USA, 2016
Everybody In Our Family – a film by Radu Jude / Romania, 2012
Horse Money – a film by Pedro Costa / Portugal, 2014
Journey to the Beginning of Time – a film by Karel Zeman / Czechoslovakia, 1955
Kinetta – a film by Yorgos Lanthimos / Greece, 2005
Mysterious Object at Noon – a film by Apichatpong Weerasethakul / Thailand, 2000
Silence and Cry – a film by Miklós Jancsó / Hungary, 1968
Valerie and Her Week of Wonders – a film by Jaromil Jireš / Czecho
August 3rd will see the release of Clemency, the Grand Jury Prize winner from the Sundance Film Festival 2019. Featuring the performance-of-a-lifetime from Oscar nominee, Alfre Woodard. The film tells the story of a prison warden who is confronted by her own psychological demons as an inmate faces the death sentence. Writer-director, Chinonye Chukwu, is the first black woman to win the top prize at Sundance. During the virtual theatrical window, Clemency will be available on Bohemia Media’s bespoke Premium VOD platform and viewers will be asked to select a local cinema or favourite film collective who will receive an equal split of the revenue. Independent cinemas and collectives will be invited to use their marketing and social media channels to help spread the word about the release. This approach is inspired by Kino Lorber’s recently launched “Kino Marquee” VOD platform in the US. From August 24th the film will be available on other platforms courtesy of Trinity Media.
Bohemia Media is a London-based production, investment and distribution company which aims to amplify the voices and stories of under-represented groups. The company supports projects that are not otherwise well-served by mainstream culture and those that would struggle to be made if based solely on mainstream commercial requirements. Bohemia Media is the freshly launched company of Phil Hunt (Head Gear Films and Bankside Films) and producer Lucy Fenton. Each film will see a proportion of the profits donated to a relevant charity. It is part of the Bohemia Club, which owns The Apple Tree, in Clerkenwell, London, a safer space for LGBTQ+/GSRD and other diverse communities. Clemency is being released in collaboration with Bird’s Eye View under their Reclaim The Frame banner.