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The Last Tree

“The Last Tree” is a period piece set in 1990’s London and follows young Femi’s journey, settling back in with his birth mother after a having lived with a foster care family in Lancashire.  Femi goes from being sidelined as the only black child in his white classroom in Lancashire to experiencing a new angle of racism where he is now being sidelined as the darkest child in his black classroom in London, all of which sums up the multiple layers and dimensions that contirbute to  race, identity and home in today’s world. His life is switched from living a pretty idyllic childhood in Lancashire with a loving and caring foster mother and family coming to live with his birth mother, played by Gbemisola Ikumelo, who is about tough love and survival. They are  constant at loggerheads with each other whilst also having to share a claustrophobic high rise flat in London…

This Way Up

Aisling Bea’s “This Way Up” offers a fresh look at the issues of mental health, love and loneliness in London and how it impacts the lives of two sisters trying to piece a normal life together. Bea plays Aine, who, after suffering a nervous breakdown and is trying to get her life back on track. She has a  great job teaching English to foreign students, which she loves, here she’s animated and engaging with her students, often going beyond her call of duty.  She’s committed and threatens to “Brexit the @£$% out of them” if they dont so their homework. The dialogue and references to current day issues provide further depth to the backdrop of this story. Shona, her sister is the other meaningful and important relationship in her life, both sisters have a close and loving bond. Shona obsesses over Aine’s safety and mental welfare throughout the series, but…

Late Night Magic

Mindy Kaling and Dame Emma Thompson dish up pure comic gold while re-imagining the male-dominated world of the chat show.  “Late Night”  is warm, witty and funny and on no account do you need to be a champion for diversity or equality in the workplace to appreciate the film. Emma Thompson as Katherine Newbury is an acerbic, detached talk-show host who is facing declining rating’s, she is out of touch with the real world and is shortly will to be replaced. Katherine has her all-male team of writers with whom she has little patience or even knowledge of their names, quickly assigning them numbers 1-10 instead, she enters her writer’s room realising that she is need of fresh talent, a woman if possible. In come’s Molly Patel, played by Mindy Kaling, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed determined to make an impact and leave her mind-numbing factory job somewhere outside of Manhattan behind her. Emma and Mindy have great…

The Farewell

“The Farewell” is a rich family drama that provides a poignant observation of  Chinese life when  Billie,  played by the brilliant Awkwafina, returns from New York to spend time with her dying grandmother. Nai Nai has been diagnosed with cancer everyone knows of her impending death, however, the family have decided to keep the news from her.  Although this is done in the best spirit possible to protect her the ethics behind the decision really trouble Billie who is struggling with her grandmother not knowing the truth. A family wedding is planned, at which Billi’s cousin, who grew up mostly in Japan, will marry his girlfriend. The gathering also gives extended family members the opportunity to pay their respects to the dying matriarch, although no one is to shed a tear or mention her illness. This leads to comical and at times very moving moments where the charade could be exposed whilst…

Half The Picture: 0.006% of Hollywood Directors From BAME Backgrounds

“When you see the same kinds of stories over and over from the same perspective, it’s not representative of people living in society; women’s voices are certainly marginalised and women of colour are basically erased.” – Amy Adrion Half The Picture (2018), directed by Amy Adrion, comes at a pivotal moment for gender equality in Hollywood. Successful women directors tell the stories of their art, lives and careers in a film that doesn’t pull any punches about what the realities are for women in the industry, specifically in Hollywood. Nevertheless, it still manages to offer an inspiring sense of fight and hope and the first glimpse of a future that values women directors’ voices equally to those of men. Amy Adrion’s documentary feature began life being funded solely on credit cards, similar to many of us starting our projects, and gathered momentum as more interviews were conducted and finances were…

Depicting Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene’s history and existence are a long and complicated matter and she has remained a woman who is still the source of much speculation and rumour, so how did the writer of Mary Magdalene actually go about developing the screenplay and what were her sources of inspiration? Mary Magdalene has the reputation in Western Christianity as being a repentant prostitute or loose woman; however, these claims are not supported by the canonical gospels. The identity of Mary Magdalene is believed to have been merged with the identity of the unnamed sinner who anoints Jesus’ feet in Luke 7:36–50. From the New Testament, one can conclude that Mary of Magdala (her hometown, a village on the shore of the Sea of Galilee) was a leading figure among those attracted to Jesus. When the men in that company abandoned him at the hour of mortal danger, Mary of Magdala was one…

Billboards of Dissent

“Three Billboards Outside Missouri Ebbing” led to inspiring speeches by Frances McDormand as she and Sam Rockwell swept up Golden Globes, BAFTA’s, Oscar’s and gathered an army of fans, talk of inclusion causes as a matter of requirement for film projects and has also influence campaigners around the world. After waiting for months with no culprit’s being caught in her daughter’s murder case, Mildred Hayes buys up three billboard signs with a message aimed at William Willoughby, the town’s revered chief of police. The intended outcome is to draw attention to her daughter’s case and to provoke action from the sheriff’s office. Throughout the film, the billboards are constantly being destroyed and updated ultimately remain on the landscape whilst Mildred continues to seek out justice for her daughter. It’s this image that has inspired campaigners to use this tactic in their campaigns or justice. Billboards are being used to call…

The Making of Black Panther

Black Panther was the first black superhero in mainstream American comics when he debuted in the 1966 issue of The Fantastic Four and is the alter ego of T’Challa, the King of Wakanda, a mythical and technologically advanced African country. Today the Black Panther movie has had a four-day opening weekend of $200 million one of the best ever for Marvel, the movie industry (e.g. film director) predicted that it would comfortably reach the $900m mark after a worldwide release, more than 50 years after he first appeared. Originally a film version of the comic starring Wesley Snipes was scheduled as early as 1992, however, despite several attempts, a script never came to fruition, with further attempts to get the production of the ground never materialising. The comic was so popular amongst the young black population that it would really only be a matter of time before the film would…

The Greatest Showman and his Misfits

The Greatest Showman as presented by Hugh Jackman is the perfect antidote to January. Based on the life of P.T Barnum and his traveling circus, fizzling with colour, musical numbers that really only Hugh Jackman can deliver in his razzmatazz style and passion. We meet Barnum, orphaned at a young age rise above his adverse poverty to marry his childhood sweetheart and establish his circus company become very wealthy and rise up in society well to an extent. Despite his success, he isn’t fully accepted into the higher echelons of New York society and so his inner shortcoming is the desire to be seen as respectable and not just a well-oiled machine exploiting the “Freaks” that he has gathered and puts on display. Although of course, the Hollywood twist on this circus is opportunity and equality for all, unlikely to be the case in real life, but nevertheless a worthy…

Lady Bird & Diaries in Rehearsal

So we already know at this point that Lady Bird is the best-reviewed film of all time. But as a quick recap, it is a film about Christine an ambitious, bright and awkward, teenager, finding her way in life – a coming of age story in it’s most classic form, with great performances from Sairose Ronan and directed by Greta Gerwig. There’s a great deal written about the film already, but I was really struck by what an approachable and open person Greta came across as at a recent Q &A at Women in Film & TV (WFTV) at the Curzon Mayfair her understanding of the actor, story and the world she has brought us into is evident from the onset.  Greta recalled how as a teenager growing up she was asked to keep her diaries a secret so no one could see them, she immediately points out how it’s interesting that…