26-11-13 / 'STEW & PUNCH' WINS AT EXGROUND FILM FESTIVAL!
The full jury statement: "The film tells a macro story of a microcosm. We easily follow the director's invitation to look through a magnifying glass onto modern society. Today, man's role seems to be blurred and evokes situations of discordance and tension. The director masterfully combines ancient three-act drama with innovative film language. His statement encourages us to reflect our own position and overcome obsolete conventions. Great actors, brilliant camera work, perfect timing and a fine sense of British humour - this recipe punched us."
20-11-13 / INTERNATIONAL CREAM
International Cream: I have programmed a selection of my favourite short films for Bang Short Film Festival here in Nottingham, a refined version of the programme I did for Festival No6. It's on December 1st at 5pm. Never mind your Sunday malaise, book now and turn up, or you won't be there.
20-09-13 / ENCOUNTERS: A UK SUCCESS TO BE PROUD OF
After two very different-looking projections of my homemade DCP of Stew & Punch (too little contrast in one festival, way too much in another), I'm somewhat relieved to say that it looked exactly right at Encounters, although their presentation has always been second to none so I needn't have worried. Considering I was screening at 3pm on a Wednesday afternoon I was astonished to find the theatre completely full (!) and ALL of the competing directors in attendance. Amazing!
Finally, it's cry-worthy that I had to miss Franz Treichler's live soundtrack performance when The Young Gods were such a significant band of my late teens. I never thought I'd see a day where I was telling an amused Franz how I was punched in the face at one of his gigs over 20 years ago. Delighted to discover that he's a bloody nice bloke because it's so disappointing when it goes the other way.
16-09-13 / FESTIVAL NO.6 SHORT FILM CINEMA
Thanks to all the directors for agreeing to participate! For anyone interested, this was the line-up: Premature (Gunhild Enger, Norway), The Centrifuge Brain Project (Till Nowak, Germany), Incident by a Bank (Ruben Ostlund, Sweden), Afraid So (Jay Rosenblatt, USA), Dad's Stick (John Smith, UK), Stew & Punch (Simon Ellis, UK), Bear (Nash Edgerton, Australia), Tumult (Johnny Barrington, UK), Animals I Killed Last Summer (Gustav Danielsson, Sweden), The Apocalypse (Andrew Zuchero, USA).
12-09-13 / MILAN FILM FESTIVAL / FESTIVAL NO.6
A few films that stood out for me were Oscar Ruiz Navia's Solecito (Colombia), Jorge Lopez Navarrete's Little Block of Cement With Disheveled Hair Containing the Sea (Spain), Monia Chokri's An Extraordinary Person (Canada). And from the animated films: Anna Mantzaris & Eirik Gronmo Bjornsen's But Milk Is Important (Norway) and Nicolas de Leval Jezierski's Half You Met My Girlfriend (Germany).
Finally, if you happen to be attending Festival No.6 in Portmeirion this Friday (tomorrow, eek), I programmed the No.6 Short Film Cinema. Ten shorts from Norway, Sweden, Germany, USA, UK and Australia, handpicked on instinct for people who may not be used to seeing short films. Be warned that the show includes occasional graphic content so it's probably best if you don't bring the kids along.
23-08-13 / ANONIMUL: A FILM FESTIVAL IN PARADISE
Our outward journey was an adventure in itself, with eighteen guests and their luggage (including musical instruments) packed into a minibus. Two hours into the journey, in the middle of parched nowhere, the engine made a snapping sound and a tyre blew. After a number of failed attempts to keep going we ended up stranded next to a sunflower field, munching on fresh seeds. Everyone was in great spirits and it was such an odd sight, all of us different nationalities, getting to know each other in this bizarre situation. When replacement transport arrived, we made it to the Danube and the speedboat set off. I was busy filming from the back of the boat when the driver put his foot down and my sunglasses were sucked from my face, spiralling into the river. My vampiric eyes prepared for the imminent three-day headache, but I was saved by the generosity of Italian director Aldo Iluniano (how cool is that name?) who gave up his own shades for the whole stretch. Thanks Aldo, you really did save me from a predicament.
The 'Green Village' complex, where we stayed for the duration, is again difficult to describe. Quite simply, I was on holiday, complete with swimming pool and the chirruping of crickets. We met the organisers, who were so lovely and apologetic about our ten-hour journey, even though we had already forgotten about it. I then found out that Stew & Punch was screening at 2am on the outdoor screen so I stuck around for it, just for the thrill of being able to see it projected underneath a vast milky way, not to mention the remains of the Perseids meteor shower. A beautiful experience. When I first heard about this festival several years ago there was much talk about the mosquitoes, and they were true to their reputation, though they couldn't mar the experience of being in such a mellow environment with equally mellow people (both guests and organisers).
A feature film from Emir Baigazin called Harmony Lessons (Kazakhstan) looked superb, with perfectly executed scenes of bullying demanding my attention, though I only saw parts of it and had to make myself leave in order to preserve the experience for future viewing. This was its Romanian premiere and it already won prizes in Berlin and Tribeca earlier this year. I can't wait to see it in full. Congratulations also to the charismatic Yuri Bykov (Russia) for winning the main prize for his feature The Major. I only caught the first thirty minutes but it's one of those openers that grabs you by the nuts and doesn't let go.
The Black Sea was only a twenty-minute walk away and on the last night we opted not to sleep so we could go and watch the sun rise. I honestly didn't want to leave and considered burying myself in the sand for a day or two. Alas, I didn't, and it was time to go spend a last night in Bucharest before returning home. The money-grabbing scumbags at WizzAir threatened to interrupt my good mood by stinging me for cash at the airport, then a flight full of typically embarrassing, borderline-retarded English 'lads' made me ashamed to be English. Finally, there was a dramatic finish when a young Romanian man was seized by police after getting off the plane, leaving his crying girlfriend at baggage reclaim. In summary though, if you are a filmmaker and you ever get the chance to visit Anonimul, take it without hesitation.
05-08-13 / UPCOMING SCREENINGS OF 'STEW & PUNCH' AND 'SOFT'
04-07-13 / WHAT ABOUT THE BODIES
12-06-13 / 'STEW & PUNCH' WORLD PREMIERE AT IKFF HAMBURG
My washing machine is rinsing the last of the Hamburg atmosphere from my clothes as I write this, and I may have to run a second cycle (okay, that sounds a bit weird but there is meaning in there somewhere). Alliteratively speaking, the key ingredients for this festival are sunshine, sausage, schnapps, and a shitload of shorts. Oh, and sleep deprivation. Sometimes the sun is missing but for 2013 all elements were very much present and correct. The festival surpassed their typically generous array of side programmes by exploiting several new locations within their extensive warehouse premises, whether it be outdoor walls or the nooks of a subterranean boiler room. It's difficult to imagine how they could squeeze in more films and I can't help wondering what next year's 30th anniversary edition might bring.
There were some truly smashing films in the international competition and a few highlights were Paul Fegan's Pouters (Scotland), Jean-Bernard Marlin's La Fugue (France), Jenni Toivoniemi's The Date (Finland), Gunhild Enger's A Simpler Life (Sweden), Artykpai Suiundukov's Nomadic (Kyrgyzstan), Adrian Orr's Good Morning Resistance (Spain), Gustav Danielsson's Animals I Killed Last Summer (Sweden), and John Smith's My Dad's Stick (England). Normal life is rubbish, Hamburg über alles!
29-05-13 / DOING REALLY WELL
25-04-13 / ONE AND A HALF BRAS
25-03-13 / SCANDALOUS CHARLATAN RENAMES 'SOFT' AND TRIES TO PASS IT OFF AS HIS OWN FILM
I happen to know from an aquaintance who dealt with JPB in the past that he is an actual practioner of film in the UK, so this isn't some teenage YouTube prank. He also has a website under his name. It will obviously be no trouble getting the upload removed, and it may already be gone by the time you read this, but it's important that as many people see this as possible in order to expose JPB's duplicity and prevent him from potentially taking an honest filmmaker's rightful slot in a festival programme with a film that might not be his his own, or be commissioned with a script that is stolen intellectual property (for example). I would never seriously consider such ludicrous hypotheses were this theft not so brazen, and I would like to prevent anyone else's time being wasted by JPB, whether it be thoughts of collaboration based on unconfirmed experience or simply time wasted having to blow the whistle in a case like this. After all, once his upload is removed people won't know he ever did it. Honestly, this world...
UPDATE 1: The internet is a wonderful thing and feedback has been amazing. The plot has thickened somewhat and while some things wouldn't be appropriate to post online (oh the irony) it transpires that JPF has done the same thing with a US short by Dan Trachtenberg, re-editing as well as re-titling it. For anyone interested, and before they are removed, the original film is here and the buggered version here.
UPDATE 2: JPF realised something was happening and removed two separate links to my film personally, before Channel 4 enforced the removal of his 'showreel', which also featured three minutes of my work and parts of other people's films. The trigger pulled, I finally sent him an email and, surprise surprise, two of his other short films have magically vanished.
20-03-13 / JURY IN THE NETHERLANDS / APOCALYPSE
I also found about, and was given, a book that was published in 2010 containing short stories by writers based on the synopses of several short films, Soft being one of them. The book was accompanied by a DVD of the films. I didn't ever hear about this.
On a slight tangent, here's an amusing short from this year's Sundance:
15-02-13 / 'STEW & PUNCH' PRESS SCREENING / UTOPIA
Berlin was pretty much a blur. I almost missed my flight going out and coming back, flying direct to London for the Collabor8te press launch in my festival scruffs. It turned out to be a champagne-and-celebrities affair at the Old Lumiere Cinema on Regent Street, which I utterly failed to adapt to after rough and ready Berlin. Stew & Punch was the final film in the programme and was thankfully well received, picking up a rather nice review here (you'll need to scroll down a bit).
Finally, while I was away Channel 4 launched Utopia, starring the exceptional young Oliver Woollford who debuted in my last short Jam Today - whooop, go Oliver!