Raising Films is going to be participating in lots of film festivals over the coming year – and we’re pretty excited. For your viewing pleasure, and to celebrate awesome family and caring-centred filmmaking, we’ll be offering recommendations for each of them for festival attendees, and to put future viewing on your radar.
First up, the BFI London Film Festival 2016 (we thought we’d start with a small one).
While we’re not running an event at the festival per se, it’s fair to say that if you come to one of the screenings of First Feature Competition nominee THE LEVELLING, you might hear filmmaker (and RF co-founder) Hope Dickson Leach talking about some of the issues, as she did with Women & Hollywood.
Excitingly, our other case study, Alice Lowe’s PREVENGE, will also be screening at London, so book yourself in for a Raising Films book-ender, if not a double-bill (sadly – or happily, given childcare – they’re not screening back to back), and check out these other film-raisers while you’re at it.
Links from the film titles take you directly to the BFI’s booking pages. Public booking opens on Thursday 15th September, with additional tickets released on Thursday 29th September.
Kick Off (and Close) Your LFF with Raising Films
The Levelling, written and directed by parent-filmmaker Hope Dickson Leach, is screening on Days 2 and 3 of the festival: a perfect snapshot of the best of British cinema. It’s a tale of a small, broken family – a daughter and father played with astonishing commitment by Ellie Kendrick and David Troughton. Their tense intimacy is as big as the world, wherein human dramas and the forces of nature intertwine. Epic.
And on the closing day (Sun 16 Oct) you can catch Prevenge, written, directed by and starring (at 7 months pregnant) parent-filmmaker Alice Lowe. Think of it as serial killer Catastrophe: a brilliant entry into the new, darkly feminist comedy thing happening in the UK, from one of the best writers and performers around. What is prevenge? Why, revenge you take when pregnant. Because the foetus told you to.
But If You Want to Bring the Family…
Maybe parent-filmmaker Lola Doillon’s Fanny’s Journey (recommended for 8+), which will have audio-narrated subtitles at its second screening on Sun 16 Oct? 12 year old Jewish girl Fanny and her younger sisters journey stealthily across France, fleeing the Nazis in 1943. It’s rare to see dramatic films entirely focused on such young protagonists, and Doillon keeps the film both accessible and absorbing.
A bit more ambitious, perhaps, is the latest film from Studio Ghibli: The Red Turtle by parent-filmmaker Michael Dudok de Wit. There’s no Totoro or Kiki here, but a dialogue-free, meditative environmental tale whose elegant simplicity will appeal to any attentive viewer, especially one who likes turtles and sand crabs, and Robinson Crusoe. And gorgeous animation, as you would expect.
Parent-Filmmakers are the Best of the Fest!
Maren Ade finished Toni Erdmann during the first six months after the birth of her second child – and it wowed critics at Cannes, also making its mark as one of the 9 1/2 films by women voted onto the BBC Culture Top 100 Films of the 21st Century. It’s another daughter-father story, this time a side-splitting dark comedy about how parents embarrass their children. Future classic.
Julie Dash’s Actual Classic (TM, certified by Beyoncé) Daughters of the Dust will be showing in its glorious 35mm restoration, prior to a US re-release later this year. A multi-generational tale of reconciliation narrated by the Unborn Child, and stunningly shot by Dash’s co-parent Arthur Jafa, Daughters is a film to take all your daughters to (biological, spiritual or otherwise), and rejoice.
Established international auteur Kore-Eda Hirokazu is a firm LFF favourite (and a father of two): his latest, After the Storm, is a tri-generational tale of failures and forgiveness, as a gambler tries to put his family back together as his mother gleefully throws out her heritage. Like Our Little Sister, it looks at the legacy of childhood in adulthood, and the continuing relationships we have with our parents.
Documenting Family Life (and Beyond)
Benjamin Ree spent ten years getting to know world chess champion Magnus Carlsen, who has been at the top of the game since boyhood. Magnus draws on home movie footage and Ree’s close knowledge of his talented, thoughtful subject to depict both the thrills and pressures of the game, and the importance of the Carlsen family as they support their champion. One for chess lovers young and old!
A very different world is on show in Ovarian Psycos, co-directed by Joanna Sokolowski and Kate Trumbull-LaValle. As well as having the best title of the year, it’s an unabashedly, in-yer-face feminist roar of a film, following three members of the titular women of colour bike club in East LA as they combine critical mass activism with community building. Single mom Xela de la X is Raising Films’ new role model.
Go Global When You #SeeHerNow!
So LFF is at 24% films directed or co-directed by women (up a massive 2% from last year I believe), including filmmakers from around the world – like Laos’ first female filmmaker, Mattie Do. Dearest Sister gives Prevenge a run for its money for stylish chills and morally ambivalent (yet compelling) heroines. We all know that families can be horrors, and Do’s film brings that story to creepy, exciting life.
Kamla Abouzekri is one of Egypt’s most high-profile and popular female directors – and a divorced single mother to boot. A Day for Women continues her practice of telling approachable tales that confront gender stereotypes: this time, with the opening of a new swimming pool that promises a women-only day, which unites many different women in their desire to swim – and also creates male opposition. Who will win?
And (because this category is awesome, and because non-Anglophone films directed by women are waaaay less likely to get press and distribution) look out for Shahrbanoo Sadat’s amazing Wolf and Sheep, shot with a non-professional, and predominantly young, cast in rural Afghanistan. Think The Secret Life of Four Year Olds but swearier – and with sheep – as Sediqa and Qodrat become friends across gender lines.
Meta-Reflexively Raising Films
So Yong Kim cast her own daughters as the three- and six-year-old versions of Jessie, the daughter of Lovesong‘s protagonist, in an excellent example of Raising Films ingenuity! It’s also a rare film about the passionate strengths and depths of female friendship, and one of two female road movies at the festival for its star Riley Keough, who also plays Krystal in Andrea Arnold’s American Honey, which we thoroughly recommend as well.
Sara Vertongen and her daughter Esra play mother and daughter in parent-filmmaker Peter Monsaert’s Le Ciel Flamand, an intense family drama set in a brothel run by Sylvie (Vertongen) and her mother Monique. One day, Sylvie is forced by circumstance to bring her daughter Eline to work. Tell a curious, spirited six year old to stay in the car while Mum hugs people who need help? The scene is set for discoveries and confrontations.
And N. Padmakumar, who collaborated with YouTube channel BeingIndian on a series of videos where young people answer big questions, tells A Billion Colour Story about an Indian mixed-religion indie filmmaking couple – through the eyes of their internet-savvy 11 year old son, Hari. He observes as they navigate financial, religious and political challenges, and he may just be the one to save the day.
And Finally… Experiment.
Go Further Beyond with the inspiring collaborative filmmakers (and co-parents) Desperate Optimists, who are back with their third, independently-produced feature: this time Aiden Gillen (who they sent to Singapore for Mister John) travels to Chile, in the footsteps of Ambrosio O’Higgins, First Marquis of Osorno, and his son Bernardo, two of Irish (and Latin American) history’s most eccentric and fascinating characters.
And last (but in no way least) revel in 35mm at parent-filmmaker Margaret Salmon’s Eglantine, which promises a young girl’s real and fantastical adventure in the forest, inspired by classic films such as The Red Balloon. Shot in Scotland, and taking a child’s eye view of the wonders of nature (and cinema), Eglantine is the sensory refresher that every festival-goer needs.