Wreckers | Sixteen
A cycle called The Birth of a Nation is dedicated to national cinemas that successfully compete with international blockbusters both inside and outside of their countries.
British cinema is a paradox. On the one hand, the entire world — from New York to Karachi — knows about Keira Knightley, Colin Firth or Tilda Swinton. On the other hand, the British have so many connections with Hollywood that we often forget that British humour, their national character, and their deeply original insular mentality are completely unique. That’s why for the Britannica program we have tried to select films that continue the traditions of Ealing and Hammer studios, of Michael Powell and Tony Richardson, of Derek Jarman and Peter Greenaway, of Ken Loach and Mike Leigh. These are very different traditions, but all of them have the invisible stamp of Britishness. Let’s hope the viewers will feel this stamp in new work by Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin (What We Did on Our Holiday), Dictynna Hood (Wreckers), Michael Winterbottom (The Trip to Italy) and Rob Brown (Sixteen).
In brief, the essence of Britishness is probably a good-narured natured surprise at the absurd world (the keystone of British humour) together with a determined assertion of opinions and honour (the gentleman’s code). British filmmakers do indeed fight for their place in the world of cinema. And they succeed. It goes without saying that this is what Russian cinema needs today.
Alexey Medvedev, film critic, programming director of Cinema On the Edge film festival;
Anastasiya Spirenkova, executive producer in theatre and music, festival translator and organizer
Ôîòî: BBC Films
Doug (David Tennant) and Abi (Rosamund Pike) and their three children travel to the Scottish Highlands for Doug’s father Gordie’s (Billy Connolly) birthday party. It’s soon clear that when it comes to keeping a secret under wraps from the rest of the family, their children are their biggest liability.
Directors Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin are not newcomers to the British cinema, but until recently they were famous only for their work for TV. They have known each other since the 1980s, and through the 90s, they were productively helping the British television.
What We Did on Our Holiday can be seen as a kind of a sequel to their TV careers: in the critically acclaimed and amply awarded sitcom Outnumbered they also told a story of a large family.
Outnumbered was a ground-breaking show built around the improvisation and skill of adult actors: they led the way for the children who got their instructions right on the set. This unique experience of work with children proved useful in the new film. The childrens’ charm and unpredictability, the famous David
«Doctor Who» Tennant and real English humour turn What We Did on Our Holiday into a marvelous spectacle for those who are not appalled by the «family comedy» label.
Ôîòî: Revolution Films
Two men, six meals in six different places on a road trip around Italy. Liguria, Tuscany, Rome, Amalfi and ending in Capri. How does a true Brit have fun, and does this gloomy child of damp weather and mists have fun at all? What does he need to be happy? Is it a meal in a nice restaurant on the Adriatic?
A nice impression of national icon Michael Caine’s accent? Or something completely different? Since the olded days — since Stern and Byron — a continental journey has been a necessary step for an English gentleman in his personality development. And Italy, with its Antiquity and Renaissance monuments, has been the best place to restore the serenity of mind after the long days of British rain.
So, when Steeve Coogan and Rob Brydon explore the Apennines, they don’t veer off the British pattern: you’ll hardly ever find anything more British than two university eggheads having a hilarious table-talk among Mediterranean scenery. The Trip to Italy is a predictable sequel to The Trip (2011) where Michael Winterbottom, Steeve Coogan and Rob Brydon examined the best British restaurants at the suggestion of The Observer. Moreover, both films are part of a big TV project, where meals are devoured not that fast and with more gusto. Coogan, Winterbottom and Brydon have been working together for years, and their easy-going friendship spills over the screen. There is only one but: this film, full of improvisation and friendly wit, is not recommended for viewers with an empty stomach.
Ôîòî: Likely Story
Dawn and David have moved back to the village where he grew up to start a family. Their relationship seems idyllic, but getting pregnant is proving difficult and adding to the strain of building their perfect home.
Out of the blue, David’s younger brother Nick appears. A soldier on leave, Nick sleepwalks and is prone to dark moods, yet Dawn is affected by her brother-in-law’s vulnerability, and they start to spend an increasing amount of time together. Gradually, buried incidents from the brothers’ shared history start to reveal themselves, forcing Dawn to confront the question of whether she really knows her husband at all.
Wreckers stars Claire Foy, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Shaun Evans. Wreckers is the first feature film from writer and director D.R. Hood. This story is her imaginative response to her village childhood. «I am fascinated by how people hide things and lie to each other about the things that are most vital to them, even though they love each other. For shame or fear. I wonder how long people can live with lies. In films lies often emerge in a climactic scene but I wanted to see what would happen if they were kept hidden», — the director says. «We wanted a very wide landscape to shoot in, mixed with close, intimate, shots of our actors to give a feeling of Dawn’s isolation and her slowly growing sense of unease. We found the Fens a perfect place to evoke those contrasts».
Ôîòî: Seize Films
Jumah is about to turn 16 in two days and wants to leave his violent past behind him. Things seem to have taken a turn for the better with Jumah now; he has a romance blossoming with a girl at school. But then Jumah witnesses a stabbing and the people involved want to make sure that he says nothing to the police about what he saw that night. Violence forces its way back into Jumah’s life.
Sixteen was created by director and screenwriter Rob Brown. He wrote a brilliant script that was chosen from a pool of 400 to be presented at the Writing Forum at the Edinburgh film festival in 2011.
The funding was collected through a Kickstarter campaign within a month. The film was shot phenomenally fast: in just 18 days, with post-production taking three months. After its premiere, the film was met with admiration at British and international festivals. It was shown in Karlovy Vary, at London
International film festival, and at the prestigious BFI film festival. The critics have agreed that despite the low budget, the authors managed to avoid a lot of clichés typical for English low-budget urban dramas. They have specifically noted Roger Nsengiyumva’s acting skills as a 15-year-old African teenager who grew up with a gun in his hand.