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To get a fair idea of the weird old film world we're in, just check out the mix of online screenings and drive-ins in this edition of Filmwire. The first glimmers of actual movie-going are starting to emerge and a number of cinemas will be reopening next month, but home entertainment will remain vital for many this summer and beyond. Take care of yourselves, and if you're able to please do consider supporting independent cinemas at this difficult time via the Mubi Cinema Fund.

FILM OF THE MONTH: MAKE UP

Everything is just a little bit…’off’ in writer-director Claire Oakley’s mesmerising debut. Set in a Cornish holiday park during the off season, foxes shriek in the night and empty caravans sit ominously in the misty middle distance, forming a uniquely British backdrop for what develops into a captivating coming-of-age/coming out tale. Molly Windsor’s anxious young woman suspects her boyfriend of cheating on her, but it’s really her friendship with a mysterious young woman named Jade that’s the kicking off point for Oakley’s psychosexual nightmare. Flirting with full-on horror at times, the imagery and sound design of Make Up perfectly capture that nagging sense of unease of finding yourself somewhere quiet and dark. Narrative dead ends abound, but Make Up is fundamentally a film far more interested in developing atmosphere than plot. It wants to beguile you, then upset you. It accomplishes both with panache.

Available from 31 July on Curzon Home Cinema

DA 5 BLOODS 

Here’s a mouth-watering selling point for this Netflix original – Spike Lee does Vietnam. One of Hollywood’s true firebrands has enlisted a cast that includes Chadwick Boseman, Delroy Lindo and Jonathan Majors for the story of four black vets who return to Vietnam to claim both the remains of their squad leader and a trunk full of gold. Stuffed with political commentary, brutal historical footage and mischievous button pushing (Lindo’s grizzled African American soldier is a card carrying Trump supporter), Da 5 Bloods is heart-pumping proof that Lee is as engaged and outraged as ever.
Available now on Netflix
BOLLYWOOD ON AMAZON PRIME

Amazon Prime are stepping up their Bollywood offerings this summer, premiering a collection of brand new films across June, July and August in five different Indian languages. They include Hindi comedy Gulabo Sitabo, mystery thriller Penguin (shot in both the Tamil and Telugu languages), Kannada titles Law and French Biryani, and Malayalam love story Sufiyum Sujatayum. The Amazon algorithms will also be pointing you towards Shakuntala Devi, the true life story of the woman known as the ‘human computer’, with trailblazing actress Vidya Balan in the title role.

Available from 12 June on Amazon Prime

 

DISCLOSURE: TRANS LIVES ON SCREEN

One of the most striking moments in this new documentary about trans representation on screen occurs when trans writer Zeke Smith remembers his love for the film Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and how he now feels about a film which features a room full of people throwing up when Sean Young’s character is revealed to be transsexual. Sam Feder’s excellent film is about how popular culture can be a force for both good and bad when it comes to societal change, but perhaps its most impressive attribute is how many trans people worked on the documentary behind the scenes. 

Available from 19 June on Netflix

 

THE DEAD & THE OTHERS

Streaming service MUBI have been taking full advantage of lockdown viewing, not least by launching a new Library section that added hundreds more films to its catalogue in one glorious swoop. The site is still adding a new film every day though, and on 23 June that film is The Dead & The Others, a fictionalised look at an indigenous Brazilian community that eschews melodrama in favour of something more studied and observational. Shot in 16mm, directors João Salaviza and Renée Nader Messora craft a hypnotic rhythm to their film, immersing audiences in a world teetering on the cusp of Western civilization. Too slow for some, no doubt, but others will rejoice in a film so unfashionably patient.

Available from 23 June on MUBI

 

SAINT FRANCES 

Disaffected millennial learns life lessons whilst looking after a six-year-old? Sounds like exquisite torture. But wait! Looks can be deceiving, and US indie Saint Frances is far, far better than that briefest of descriptions suggests. Writer-star Kelly O’Sullivan’s script might touch on a number of hot button topics like gay marriage, post-partum depression and abortion, but it fashions something dramatically satisfying out of them, instead of just shoving them all in to look ‘woke’. Hopefully we get to see plenty more from O’Sullivan, who clearly has a deft touch when it comes to both writing and performing.

Available from 10 July on Amazon Prime
 

A WHITE, WHITE DAY

A grieving widower is on the hunt for vengeance in this bruising Icelandic drama, one which picks apart toxic masculinity with deadpan precision. Said widower is a small town police chief (Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson) who discovers his wife was having an affair before she died, leading him on a dark journey that sees aggression seep into his relationship with his granddaughter and others around him. Writer-director Hlynur Palmason never quite takes things where you expect them to go, piecing together something elemental that offers a few cold, hard truths about the thin line between love and cruelty.

Available from 3 July on Curzon Home Cinema and BFI Player

Throughout June & July
 

Film Feels
BFI funded project exploring ways to connect cinema with audiences during lockdown Summer 2020. You'll find a whole host of watch parties, exclusive previews and tweetalongs happening all over the UK with highlights such as Belfast Film Festival's Sofa Shorts on 30 June and John T. Davis' legendary 1979 documentary Shellshock Rock on 31 August.

Birmingham Indian Film Festival
Team BIFF has joined up with their parent festival the London Indian Film Festival to bring you #LoveLIFFatHome streaming a bunch of feature films, shorts, Q&As and Masterclasses, including the winning films of their annual Satyajit Ray Short Film awards.

Annecy International Animated Film Festival
The festival will take place exclusively online this year (15-30 June) with a 15€ pass giving you access to the full programme where you will be able to view all the competition content—the short films, feature films, TV and Commission films, and the VR works. Bargain.

STRONG ISLAND
As part of their Black Lives Matter collection Netflix has made Yance Ford's Strong Island available to watch for free on YouTube. The documentary examines the violent death of the filmmaker’s brother and the judicial system that allowed his killer to go free.

 

More Films For Freedom 2020
This summer the British Council is releasing three short LGBTIQ+ films as part of #MoreFilmsForFreedom. First up is Nowhere, a story of a Palestinian woman crossing the Israeli border to find her estranged brother. Available on YouTube for one month.

QFT Player
Queen's Film Theatre in Belfast have launched their own online platform streaming exclusive content straight to your home! Check out their Free Collection (no subscription necessary) and look out for special events, new releases and a few classics from the archive.

THE LAST TREE with Q&A
Picturehouse is hosting a screening of The Last Tree with a live video Q&A with director Shola Amoo and leads Sam Adewunmi & Ruthxjiah Bellenea. Watch on their YouTube channel at 8pm on Thursday 25 June. 

Boxer Short Films
A brand new platform offering a weekly fix of 'Saturday morning toons' you can enjoy in your boxer shorts (or any attire of your choice).

Lesflicks VOD
A social enterprise platform run by the community, for the community offering up oodles of shorts, features and series that show women loving women on screen. Titles include The Bra Mitzvah, Crazy Bitches 2 and The L Word: Generation Q (remember that early noughties banger? It's back!)

DRIVE-IN CINEMA

Whilst the coronavirus pandemic has been a huge blow to the cinema industry across the globe, there’s one form of cinemagoing that’s had a socially distanced renaissance this year – the drive-in. The drive-in cinema set-up of minimal contact with other people means they’re well placed to offer big screen entertainment during a pandemic, to the point that this month saw low budget horror movie The Wretched rack up a tidy amount at the US box office by screening largely at drive-in cinemas.

The US is particularly well prepared for automobile viewing, as that’s where the romance of the drive-in experience was first cultivated, beginning in the 1920s but cemented during the 50s and 60s. Here in the UK, the unique lure of watching films from a car never really caught on, but the recent explosion in outdoor screenings during the summer months took a lot of what made those screenings work and tweaked them for the picnic blanket crowd.

The impact of COVID-19 has meant those same outdoor screenings are now emulating their US cousins this summer, with Luna Cinema rebranding as Luna Drive-In and offering a comprehensive programme of big hitters on the Pageant Field by Warwick Castle from 7 July. The line-up is standard outdoor cinema fare – kids films (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin), cult favourites (The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Mean Girls) and 80s classics (Back To The Future, Dirty Dancing) – alongside nihilistic laugh riot Joker on 13 July. 

Suzuki are sponsoring their very own drive-in tour over the summer months which is visiting Birmingham from 15 to 19 July, complete with two screenings of Grease (featuring probably the most well-known movie scene set at a drive-in), recent Lady Gaga remake A Star Is Born and the pleasing opportunity to watch Pixar animation Cars whilst sitting in a car. You’ll also get 50s style roller skating waiters, plus ten free tickets are available for NHS staff and care workers for every screening.

More 80s favourites come courtesy of Adventure Drive-In from 23 July at Avery Fields sports club in Bournville, with Labyrinth, Back To The Future and The Neverending Story appearing in the same programme as Jurassic Park and Disney’s original Lion King animation, with the added option of raving in a confined space thanks to two DJ club nights on 24 and 25 July (warning: don’t try it in a Mini).

The team behind FAO Birmingham nightclub are also planning a series of drive-in screenings in Digbeth from July, although details were still unconfirmed at time of press, so keep checking drivethruevents.co.uk for more information as it’s announced. Over in Derbyshire, the newly launched Drive In Films - a brand new company formed off the back of one of the organisers being furloughed during the pandemic - begins operating at Mickleover Sports Club from 24 July with the likes of Rocketman and Mammia Mia on the menu.

But not every outdoor cinema event this summer means having to make sure you’re not sitting on a seat belt – the Al Fresco Film Company are offering socially distanced deckchair viewing in Worcester, Coventry and Redditch, with titles including Downton Abbey at the Elms Hotel in Worcester on 13 Aug and Jurassic Park at Coombe Abbey Park in Coventry on 5 Sep.

And for those concerned that the pandemic has done irreparable damage to traditional cinemagoing, consider this interesting fact about the aforementioned success of The Wretched - it was also simultaneously available online, meaning that thousands of people specifically chose the big screen experience. A ray of hope at an uncertain time for cinemas.

SHORT OF THE MONTH

EXCERPT
(dir. Martin McNally, UK 2020, 5 mins)

Lockdown has halted many film productions, but this is one work that has flourished in these conditions. Filmmaker Martin McNally (aka Mixed Milk) was commissioned by Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and Black Hole Club to create a new piece responding to BMAG's digital archive. The result is Excerpt, a mesmerising dash through countless artworks threading together mountains, bugs, swords, steeples, chickens, hands and eyes... lots of eyes. McNally's aim was to "encourage the viewer to become aware of the intimate connections we all share - even if on the surface there's no clear connection, we are relentlessly interrelated.”
 

OPPORTUNITIES

CITY OF CULTURE LEADERSHIP PROGRAMME COORDINATOR
Coventry City of Culture, Coventry (closes 19 June)

OFFICE AND FINANCE ADMINISTRATOR 
Charnwood Arts, Loughborough (closes 19 June)

CORPORATE MANAGER
Compton Verney House Trust, Warwickshire (closes 21 June)

PROGRAMME COORDINATOR 
Coventry City of Culture, Coventry (closes 26 June)

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Dance4, Nottingham (closes 29 June)

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
ArtReach, Leicester (closes 29 June)

CHIEF EXECUTIVE
Big Difference Company, Leicester (closes 3 July)

ARTS ALLIANCES COORDINATOR
The Mighty Creatives, Leicester (closes 6 July)
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Filmwire is produced by Flatpack Projects as part of Film Hub Midlands. Filmwire is brought to you using BFI Film Audience Network (FAN) funds from the National Lottery, in support of giving everyone, everywhere in the UK the opportunity to enjoy and learn from the richest and most diverse range of great British and international filmmaking - past, present and future.

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Flatpack Projects (CIO) · Unit 304, The Custard Factory · Gibb St · Birmingham, West Midlands B9 4AA · United Kingdom