No Stone Unturned : A Film Review

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No Stone Unturned

Directed by Alex Gibney, Writing Credits Alex Gibney, Produced by Maiken Baird, Executive producer, Trevor Birney, Producer, Brendan J. Byrne, Executive producer, Erin Edeiken, Post producer. Jonathan Ford, Executive producer. Alex Gibney, Producer, Eimhear O’Neill , Co-producer, Richard Perello, Executive producer, Greg Phillips, Executive producer Music by Ivor Guest, Cinematography by Stan Harlow, Ross McDonnell, Film Editing by Andy Grieve, Alexis Johnson, Co-editor Sound Department, Peter Miller, sound mixer. Aaron D. Kelly, voiceover recordist (uncredited) Editorial Department. Kyle Casey, digital intermediate producer Music Department, Robert Logan, Composer: theme music other. Duration 1hr 51mins.  Cert. 15. USA/UK.

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Event and Causality
The renowned American Documentary Film maker Alex Gibney, whose films include the very necessary expose on the American Catholic Church, Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, has had various responses to this films impending release as he exposes the U.K. Governance and responsibility in maintaining a veil over their own and other actions.  Some responses are to avoid being sued as the press tread carefully with themselves standing back from full disclosure like the Government are similarly practiced at.  The film is clear in telling you who the suspects are that carried out the massacre of innocent people in a Public House. It begins with a re-enactment of the attack on The Heights Bar in Loughinisland in Co. Down, in Northern Ireland.  Within 6 minutes on 18 June 1994 of the Republic of Ireland having scored a goal against Italy in a World Cup match in US New Jersey a hooded gunman slaughtered 6 of eleven who were watching the match on the small bars TV.   To this day no one has been charged or put on trial for the Murders.  3 took part in the murder and they are named in the film.

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No Stone Unturned is an account of a sole event, many other examples are out there of similar injustices and many have walked free of other atrocities due to the Good Friday Agreement. You can only say may God be their judge and those who don’t believe in that deity are left hung and dry as no judge is equipped to punish these evil and gross deeds of human on human. These were also fellow countrymen but through allegiances were divided just as they were in 1798 when, Protestant was to murder by hanging Protestant, in a stupid revolt which saw neighbour and family upon family divided and distraught with the hegemony of a warfare based on Nationhood. Both times; other cyclical events are similarly illustrative, are a betrayal of Gods infinite wisdom (love thy neighbour the most important edict) as the stark reality is innocent lives amid protagonists of creed or doctrine sought their supremacy over others. It is an absence of individual faith which is marked and it is not as the film realizes for viewers in or gift to forgive. Knowing the truth however is different and we then ask for the perpetrators to themselves ask forgiveness which is in Gods hands.

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State Corruption

The bigger implication and truth shown here in No Stone Unturned is the state of Power in Ireland and Great Britain and their manipulation for their populous of events. A code of directives within a state lead by Sovereignty itself in the grasp of evil. The USA which this film seems to be aimed at, became involved with a funding of terrorists rampant and raising a myth of Irish culture and history. The diaspora Irish clinging to the romantic idealism of their past ancestors and country. Some also exiled terrorists under the shadow of green permits. Many of those ancestors had to flee to avoid cholera and typhus as fellow Irish along with the British and State Churches, Church of Ireland and Catholic Church conspired to ship food by the ton out of Ireland, Meat, Eggs, Poultry, Grain. The evidence in all documents as they were billed up and shipped while all around millions were forced from the land and six million emigrated of which many never completed the journey. Often they fell dying on the beaches of Ireland and their bones and dust were taken by the tide and some buried in the shifting sands forgotten forever.

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The USA became a pawn of their own miscalculations and saw hubris in becoming advocates for peace – famously George Mitchell forged the Peace Deal. The unity is frail and inactive now. In the consequence of legacy as a side issue and traditions saw their slate wiped. Only victims, and internally perpetrators, carried the burden as innocent and public signals and noises of PR or a new propaganda of an unaffected let’s move on regime were way forward. Little attention other than a slow bureaucratic process were in place seeking to the redress as it became. No Truth Commission ever formed. A slow waltz of the truth leaking out and courts, human rights lawyers hidden seen in full view. So is the legacy tackled by Alex Gibney on one atrocity brings with it countless questions. He makes a few missteps unfortunately captioning for an American or wider audience such errors as 3,000 unsolved murders, or the captioning of 50 million of retained unseen documents relating to the ‘troubles’ still being held by the State Authorities.

When the USA became an outworker for peace through Clinton and a Visitors Visa (the film shows a clip of the ‘clipped’ Clinton at a press conference – he drops in Clintonesque the word limited Visa) to Gerry Adams it was seen by many as an easement of the USA position at the behest of the U.K. Government who would have given their aggrement to it. It has the unintended consequences result rule come into play. The loyalist extremists saw this as a reason to ratchet up their own crusade against Catholics and so violence escalated. Loughinisland itseflcacreaction to a group of murders.

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Evidence

This is but one atrocity and it’s links to others related to the Glenanne group were touched on but not dwelt on. The reason is than that link also leads to others in the continuos of entanglement. Showing in the film that ‘Loughinisland’ as its known, is not alone is one outcome of the film, and this account is a mirror of others as no Police Operation has drawn the suspects in for questioning on the foot of any evidence held or in their remit to obtain. The film makers were able however to obtain or be given a piece of evidence in the form of a document, a letter from one of the alleged suspects wife which named the participants one of which was her husband. This is also a piece of evidence, she might have known, implicated her in the organization of terrorist acts. This is itself a criminal offense. So are we to take it the evidence was from say a woman scorned, fallen out big time with her husband or genuinely reflective on her past and the awful act which followed the Planning she purports to know about. All unanswered questions. The suspects are named in the film, one shown.

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Commentary
‘There is a brief word from Tom King, Northern Ireland secretary from a little before this period. Mayhew died in 2016, but John Major, then prime minister and overall head of the security services at the time is still alive. So is Sir Colin McColl, head of SIS from 1989 to 1994, and Sir David Spedding, head of SIS from 1994 to 1999.’

This is a short but important quote from The Guardians Peter Bradshaw on his sight of the film and a reaction from a person with no agenda other than explaining his views on the film which are full of insight. It basically asks Who the hell knew? – Why was it considered expedient to go ahead with this atrocity? A question which is based on the films information that the event was known to be happening by Security forces, handlers of Informants. in the light of renewed optimism coming out of the operations of ‘Diplomacy and Special Branch/MI5 intelligence? What price someone’s life is basically another question need be asked of the State and those counsel of collusion and commanding those acts. The Royal Ulster Constabulary Chief Superintendent is at all times through the period before and since culpable and the likes of Ronnie Flanagan, John Hermon Hugh Anerissly, all were in Commanding Positions and during their time there was infiltration of their force, by any means, of a covert Security Army presence of an inside network and alongside corrupt Officers acting on their supposed agendas of dirty tricks using the – films illustrative point – informant and tout arrogate is aloud and proud in ranks of fundamentalist Protestant – no Catholic Officers of the force are likely to be involved at this – an inside armed Police unit. The Forces Research Unit FRU also get few if any mentions. A good book exists on the FRU. I remember it disappearing from all good bookshops (it was pre Amazon) as the State and Police presumably – who loved its content so much – couldn’t wait to get hold of every copy. I saw a dozen or more disappear from a certain bookshop which is Fahrenheit 451 and Stasi like. I saw a number myself being lifted off a shelf – all that remained – by a large man who fitted the stereotype of a Police Officer and it may well be he wanted them as presents for his co-workers or Christmas presents. The shelf never saw another copy replace them.

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All kinds of truth
Aporia is a word which comes up time and time again concerning never knowing the whole truth. ‘I’d been killing him for thirty years,’ he says, weakly, ‘this was just when he fell’. Like a Minnesotan Prometheus, his original sin was cleverness. Which is from Fargo. The Aporia episode where the recognition that most cops want a straightforward solution to a case, he provided one, means, motive and miscreant all. It happens everywhere in all unreconciled problems, an untruth happens to fit. The Guildford 4 and the Birmingham 6 loom large. Governments are full of misfeance and miscreants. The most appealing is the connivance with the realm of Sovereignty when the instructions come within the Castle walls – our Royal family – none of these dirty wars must come to the light of day.

Even the sacred hollows of espionage at Admilitary Arch moves on and it becomes a Hotel as of late. I have sought an answer as to the reason why successive PM’s and their Secretary’s of State have continually been concealing and burying literally in some cases the documental evidence and paper trail of the atrocities unaccounted for in Northern Ireland and the only viable answer – the families in this film continually point upward as did D. Cameron did when confronted by more questions within Downing Street by the Finnuacane family on their Fathers murder – with the meaning beyond Government rules must be adhered to and in such are the Church of England whose deplorable unchristian values entered the political games and dealt out suppression and national supremacy to maintain its own.
The underlying legacy is that their lies and conspiracies are the bloody current and currency that runs through the many controversial and tragic events of the past 30 to 40 years – Bloody Sunday, Dublin/Monaghan bombing, Pat Finnuacane/Rosemary Nelson murders, Omagh bomb, the list goes on.

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The actions involved during the violence of the late twentieth century in Northern Ireland and beyond into the twenty first century by the use of informants and insiders to push their dirty war was to maintain the controls of power. Past misdeeds would be and are still traded in for silence and inaction amongst the people whose way of life was chosen as violence. From Soldiers and their chiefs like General Mike Jackson on (of Bloody Sunday infamy) there is long roll of former Military perpetrators of acts of violence organised and overlooked by their peers. Others served, most who were Soldiers of conscience, yet their legacy is mental health problems arising from the first instance the reconciliation of the brainwashing of militarism and realising there are among us, alongside, those who are unchallenged and stained without remorse. A fair trial is often off the books also.

Fargo is nearer truth.

It was a pretty smart day’s work, all told. He understood the positions and motivations of the pieces on his board and made the necessary moves. More Fargo. This world like Fargo – appeared to be taking place in a haunted forest, replete with animal heads, crossbow hunters and decapitations, like something from the tales of the Brothers Grimm if they’d been animated by the German Expressionists instead of Walt Disney. Or reality. Or like the Big Lebowski on the morning after the apocalypse. There was a sense that it was an Other Place, a limbo in which no one questions the customers on why they are covered in blood and are armed with crossbows. Or guns. Because a now reformed (deacon or cathedral guide bought and transported guns from South Africa – 2 times – one a backed off photo call – the other the successful gun run) gun supplier walks God’s path unhindered except internally by guilt without absolution. Wrong kind of faith. What kind of narrative makes people act this way but the past – stories told as untruth – which encompassed soul transference, the life of Nachman of Breslov, the Massacre of Uman and a knowledge of Yuri’s cossack background, suggest an otherworldliness that is not uncommon to Fargo. Questions arise. Series/Episode 3.8 Who Rules the Land of Denial? Fargo.

No Stone Unturned was the false promise of Patrick Mathew while standing outside The Heights Bar in front of reporters looking for this sound bite and giving the British Secretary of State the primacy of writing down those prophetically and gruesomely inaccurate words, while a car with forensics was towed away, while a gun went to the forensics lab, while a holdall with balaclavas in it along with other items were taken away from the crime scenes locality.

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Detail is occasionally given to the viewer of this film No Stone Unturned but Alex Gibney is caught between a cinematic journey to delve into the human psyche to deliver a palpable story crisply told, and at the same time answer questions that have been left unanswered for longer than twenty years that go back into the origins of the violence meted out during the unpeaceful times. His motives are not questioned but his smarts are due to the tendency to roll out unchecked – the proposition 3,000 murders remain unsolved.   That is quite a statement and it is close to a very large number but probably nearer half is closer.  It also gave the impression the British Army were culpable in those murders not being solved forgetting the combatants – they were alongside and playing games with – were two sectarian groups intent on a national identity – theirs having supremacy.

Both were and are entrenched in, and inwardly opposed to, the concept of any settlement involving a shared community Border/No Border, and one which has had the historical backdrop of divide and rule since John de Courcy and Henry lll, the English Pope and the Wexford landings. Rule the coin and you rule the native. Roman was the guiding master of power then as now and several interchangeable imperialist dynasties have come after de Courcy’s time.

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Rupert bearly believable.

It is also an issue South of the Border. This is a report from a source. Bernadette McKevitt. In 2003 indiamond6.ulib.iupui.edu:81/fairtrial.html

Former Irish Prime Bertie Ahern has expressed his concern in relation to the “Stakeknife” reports, however once again he demonstrated how he was willing to let the media colour his judgement. One would have thought first and foremost his concern would have been to uphold a citizen’s right to be presumed innocent until found guilty by a court of law and to have criticised the trial by media that took place over the last number of days. It seems ironic that he was alarmed by the reports of MI5 operating agents in the “Republic” seems ironic that he was alarmed by the reports of MI5 operating agents in the “Republic” when one of those same agents will appear before the Special Criminal court Dublin in four weeks time to frame an Irish citizen. When approached by (me) in Portlaoise town during his election campaign last year, Mr Ahern emphatically denied any knowledge of MI5 agents operating in the 26 counties, he advised (me) to go to the Gardai if (I) had any information concerning this issue! How then does he explain Garda Assistant Commissioner, Dermot Jenning’s liaisons with MI5, where according to MI5 documents (an extract of which was read at a recent court hearing) Jennings had urged MI5 officers to “remove” certain reports that would have made David Rupert “an untrustworthy source”.

Glenanne Report

Some days have passed since a judge already ruled the Police unlawfully – Chief Constable ultimately responsible – frustrated any chance of an effective probe of the so called Glenanne gang killings count during the 1970’s. On the Historical Enquiries (HET) account they were disbanded in advance of an almost complete 80% (subject to corrections) report coming forward of the Glenanne investigations. Currently the Chief Constable ignores calls from the High Court to disclose the finished report by judicial review. Since the HET were found to be not fit for purpose and another ‘mechanism’ – again designed to heavily thwart process and openness, the misery of victims families whose lives were affected and whose remaining relatives are left without answers are still being subjected to undue neglect by the State on many fronts. The rights of man are ‘subject to corrections’ as justice is incremental and fragments are given which is subject to revision as new fact after fact emerge. That is the policy in operation – Operation No End. Having a committee dismantle the HET a new version came forward. The PSNI establishing an in-henhouse Legacy Investigations Branch (LIB) and insufficient resources were committed to it by Government. A backlog and raft of retirements put paid to any formative turnaround in truth recovery. It is absolutely repellant and undemocratic for the machinery of Government which is he people’s representative servant to be engineered by a Sovereignty which is outside their control or answerability. The latest control broker is James Brokenshire whose MOD allegiances are clear.
Nothing will be revealed under his watch is his mantra. His predecessors presumably sanctioned the payment of, in five years, £1.8m to informers. That does not include the human cost and manpower running those ‘agents’. So his use is perpetuation of this ‘intelligence’ network while he refuses to fund additional independent work on the Legacy trail. Emptying the bins is not his mantra. The waste management is sterile and a paper trail however clean is buried in a sinkhole of platitudinous and vile commentary. Collusion, conspiracy, corruption is rife and the truth is their enemy not their ally. Faith will come someday I would hope.

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Conclusion ####4

The film is full of intense meaning and is purposeful in telling the basic constituent parts of one atrocious event in the deaths over many years of exhausting violence. Proof if it were needed of the acts of collusion and cover-up are documented. It opens up questions concerning the further crime showed of destroying forensic evidence. A holdall, the murder weapon, and even the getaway car all provided as did the location it was dumped trails of evidence which an uncorrupted Police Force could assemble a case from. The shocking examination of the event of The Heights Bar Shooting is in plain sight as a Corruption of the highest order and implicates the regime in control at every level. It provides the viewer with the names of the suspects which are in the mind of the Police Ombudsman, whose own part takes a primary part in disclosure – without removing the code for the assailants under suspicion – is disturbing and a source of mounting anger, discomfort and discontent, not just for the viewer but it must feel as a breach of basic trust in our Security Forces through their manipulation by state agencies which this film clearly point to. The charm offensive has to stop and the documents which are held back – intelligence on perpetrators a resource which would answer many questions is self evident. I found this film hard to take and despairingly forming a worse opinion of the operatives on many fronts. As the above has a tendency to wander in review so anyone who sees this film will go on their own journey and it does not stop there. It is a need to make peace through truth and knowledge. Another realisation brings this phrase to mind – You get used to things, without getting used to things. Paradoxes fold into each other and the atrocities too are linked by self evident truth that faith had been principle in denial.

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Today I went to a talk and reading by Michael Longley which centred on the First World War and poetry arising from it and during it.  Some lines are worth noting here.  Highest among them I took the poets own words after reading a War poem by Edward Thomas. “I think our world is still in sorrow.” and he added as time was closing in, “I have so much more to say.” There were words about the finish of War and one of Siegfried Sassoon s saying “All of a sudden it’s over….. and we can all go home.”  A call as it were by the angels.   Another phrase. Beauty is like the setting sun.  The singing will never be done.  Michael Longley here added….. “the singing never was done, we have done nothing but grieve since.” A reflection from the son of a boy who went to war at sixteen, killed as ‘Citation’ reads at nineteen, and survived to have his family. Michael having a twin brother whose life was taken early.  The words came forth from Michael as in memorium.  The Seigfried Sassoon words again. ‘You are too young to sleep, and when you sleep, you remind me of the dead”.  Think about the people who go to sleep tonight, each night with them thinking about the memory of the ones who went to sleep and sleep with them still in a silence.

John Graham

8 November 2017

Belfast

The 6.00pm screening on Wed 15 Nov will be followed by a filmmaker Q&A (details TBC).

No Stone Unturned will screen at QFT from 10 November 2017 until 15 November 2017.

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The Farthest : A Film Review

The Farthest


Director and Screenwriter Emer Reynolds.  Camera (color, widescreen, HD): Kate McCullough. Editor: Tony Cranstoun. Music: Ray Harman.  Duration 2hrs 1min.   Genre. Film feature Documentary.   Completed 2016. Ireland.   Rating PG.

A Crossing the Line production, in association with HHMI Tangled Bank Studios, The Irish Film Board/Bord Scannán Na héireann, in co-production with ZDF, in cooperation with Arte, BBC, RTE, PBS. Distributed by Abramorama. Producer: John Murray, Clare Stronge. Executive producers: John Rubin, Keith Potter, Sean B. Carroll, Dennis Liu.

The Farthest – Worlds away
How do you tell a complex story?  This film achieves it by following the most precious measure of all. Time. They do it chronologically.  From the launch within two weeks of each other in August 1977 to today forty years of knowledge has been accumulated giving us insights and tools needed to survive.  In providing an extraordinary and educational insight to the Voyager Missions, the Irish Writer, Director, Emer Reynolds propels the viewer through an array of adventures in space, planet to planet. It is the story of Voyager 1 which set off second to Voyager 2 and soon went by its slower less functional twin, into our Solar system, setting a course for the Planets in a mission, confined in planning, to visit with no stopover, Jupiter, Saturn but by the technical and intellectual thrust of the missions authors and controllers, succeeded in going on further with some deft reprogramming to Uranus and onward to the 4th gas planet Neptune.  Voyager 1 apparently is 12 billion miles away currently though you would need to check with NASA to be accurate.


Flight

Each journey on flight was a discovery beyond the NASA teams wildest expectations.  Even now in this film the achievement is under appreciated.  The team participants – descriptions, titles of their respective roles are displayed, are telling the story in screened interviews, talking heads with brains planet size, while often emoting humuorously with visually amazement of what in meant and now means. Eyes are popping in aghast of some telling a story.

On “The Farthest” Emer Reynolds explains: “We wanted to speak to a general audience, not just super science geeks like myself.”   It is enhanced by his structure, honed while writing it and the steady intuitive grace of Kate McCullough’s excellent cinematography.   As you might imagine the photography at cinema screen 4K interpolated, from 2K is stacked full of outstanding display of the NASA images. We see a computer – like Excel infant – table frequently and it looks  like a child’s bookmark.  The layout is 1. A box with a picture in it. Top tag header is VG1 and across Saturn or whichever it relates to. Beside that image 2. are two small boxes one on top of the other giving a ‘wav’ – radio wavelength file – of the incoming signals which are transported to the first box as images. This is rudimentary but this is what we or the boffins/brains in Building 102 gets back from that distant small object which punches out extrodinary visions which are packed full of information it will take years to analyse wth much future help expected via. AI.

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The Golden Record

Look and Learn

The last photographic signals we know that will come from Voyager are back here on earth. The vessel carries on with radio signals returning information of it going ever more distant at a speed of 10 miles per second through interstellar space. Going Farthest.  The science is laid out here in a layman terms but you require and are pulled into it by the – if you had been paying attention to the story so far – the what happens next fix.  Jeopardy exists everywhere.  In the beginning was a Government, in the beginning there was a budget. Then they had to recruit the best minds to build it from its concept, inception, a vessel with three enormous arms that would unfold once through the Asteroid belt, like a lotus flower exploring the sky and seeking its life from beneath in the mineral mix of its own body and payload – the Human representing the nutrients – to the light it engages with as energy for the Sun our own life source.

The vessel is like a brain and inside it is what is called the Golden Record. This gets a lot of airtime and coverage mainly due to the fact journalists and non-geeks love to know how Johnny Be Good will be accepted and appreciated in the far of extra-terrestrial zone Voyager ventures into.  It is literally a half speed long playing record with boxed alongside a stylus and IKEA kit diagram of operating instructions without words.   In order that we keep with the complexity, as the film continues, short paragraphs appear and extend, dissolve as something needs clarified in the written word. The big picture paragraphs the author has highlighted above the spoken word. When the unexplained happens language requires stillness and read. There are no excuses or reasons why this film cannot fill the void of knowledge of non-geeks as those who have been ask to put their own words to their part of it advance thoughts which have been gathere, been dissected, altered and polished in their heads for forty odd years.  It is full of stimulating beautiful phraseology and delivered with enormous gravitas while being so matter of fact about it which it clearly emphatically is.


I interrupt this message

To any alien species Voyager could seem like, it is just a container of entrails, maybe of a body the vessel itself might seem only the outer form of an inner wonder.   It is animal like though one scientist will not allow himself to anthropomorphise the Voyagers 1 and 2.   Maybe the ‘encountered’ will have destroyed Voyager 1 as it is taken to be itself alien.  Then in its coat tails along comes another. Voyager 2 which ‘they/it’ we haven’t been introduced properly, might be less antagonistic to Craft 2 and take it for what it is – a vessel of minerals constructed and assembled of the earths finest skills, put together back in 1977 symbolic of our progress since inhabiting the earth.   The Golden Record is an ambiguous pictorial and written record. Not available through Amazon or other outlets.  It is unlikely it contains war or weaponry photos though one photograph is of a human stalking an animal with a spear.   No images of the Gamehunter slaying a tiger or Elephant form the back of a Land Rover Discovery or other SUV on their holidays.  Only one quote will go down here in this review – and only part – ‘if they even have heads!’ which obviously is regarding the unknown destiny.

The Golden Record is our message apparently of our place in the universe diagrammatically configured with the known universe laid out in a linear diagram.

It is this composition of Earths minerals and knowledge which will travel beyond our time and earths time into the interstellar universe of possibilities.  As the naysayers preceding Galileo/Copernicus’s theories may have had it, requiring modification of the Bible. (Galileo Galilei) 1564–1642, the Italian physicist only partially solved the solar systems behaviours. Voyager on the other hand could come to  the crunch as it hits a wall of termination and its progress it halted with the unknown on the other side multiples of billions, trillions, in a world away outside our Solar system.  Quantum physics tells us Neutrons pass through us and the globe is transmutable while the electron exchanges we only glimpse, possess us in our temporality.  They engage and construct us and we are each separate assemblies of their manifestations.

Much is given over in the film to the reasoning and compilation of this and many conjectures, as it is the missions task to learn and then inform of our limited time as a planet. 5 million years left!


Big energy

Voyagers power is tiny in comparison to the surrounding atmospheres.  The reach of its plutonium powered lights are on a trajectory taking it further than the 2 billion miles, 3 billion at Neptune, it has put between us and its current location. Outer outer space is where it has gone. That is known as the interstellar cosmos. As Galileo once redefined our vision, so this tiny Voyager full of the modern technology available in April 1977, is on a mysterious journey.  It is the mysterious traveller those wonderkids of the seventies thought would provide new possibilities they Part imagined and described as of the infinite kind. The achievement went to the boundaries of their dreams and beyond their expectations of its capacity to enlighten.  Light is emitted from the battery but the darkness it enters is dense and un-encountered and it no longer is live.
Part of the understanding developed with Big Bang theory is that everything has Big energy (dark matter) passing through it.  Neutrons bouncing through us and everything else. The darkness of space is an energy unknown but ultimately our survival is reliant – other than the human self-destruct button of climate and a habitable world being activated – appears as a possibility of being in reach of accessing its mystery.

Voyager is this composition of Earths minerals and knowledge which will travel beyond our time and earths time into the universe of possibilities.  All 735kg approx of it.

Its progress if not halted with the unknown on the other side multiples of billions, trillions, of a world away outside our universe it could inform again.  The intuition of it recalibratingbis already charted.  For humans to conceptualists the earth there has been scientists such as the late, unique and contributing scientist, Carl Sagan.   His son is a frequent visitor and contributor to the story telling.  His contexturalisation of what we see is the most convincing made and does not tolerate high blown speculation.

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Something’s are beyond us

The scientists insist frequently that the Voyagers will be the only record of us beyond our extinction.  They have set up an experiment to find out the composition of the nearest gas planets and then find themselves looking at the bigger philosophical questions to fill the outskirts of their mind.  The talk of sling shots, meaning mathematical continuance of the voyage, was decided upon by careful planning.  Each trajectory is explained in detail with never imaged results we can access through this film.  Yet it is on to the next discovery.  Each scientist explains and though the press conferences at each ‘staging’ post for public consumption is populated it seems, by mainly if not exclusively, men whereas the imbalance is treated by Emer Reynolds in the inclusion of very well informed women whose life work this also is.  Imagining Science is an institute contributing and currently relaying information openly about the mission and while the journey goes on the small in the big gets smaller as more miles are travelled.

There is a juncture when the Voyager team all turn to the Challenger Mission. On January 28, 1986 the space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after take-off and killed seven astronauts.  It was the 25th shuttle launch since NASA started service in 1981. For the first time a teacher was a member of the crew. Christa McAuliffe had won a contest against thousands of other teachers. When they speak of it and Voyager is without that human element, the scientist loose their capacity for coherent language, one for example who can’t think straight, said of TV coverage, ‘replaying the event over and over again repeatedly.’
The Voyager mission was constructed by Caltech Engineering and Applied Science Department of Aerospace (GALCIT) with the context of origami a filed attribute. Based in Pasadena California – where two weeks ago the indomitable and beautiful human in her 84th year, Julie Newar attended her Catcon 2017 ahead of her birthday – as sublime as ever. She never made it as an image onto the spacecraft so remains hidden. That is the history post Homers Odyssey of time travel with a return in mind of a feline leveller of our naivety played for laughs and adventure escapism. After lift off and landing on the moon another generation of escape was projected onto screens but none so realistic or measured as what this film documentary delivers, even if it is only on the flat fourth wall.


Time flies

This object, as google will tell you, is The Voyager spacecraft weight, including hydrazine, at launch was 815 kg or about 1797 pounds. It was almost the weight and size of a sub-compact car. The current approximate weight of Voyager 1 is 733 kg and Voyager 2 is 735 kg. This was launched with the computer power of a car key fob and before the internet on which you can see the stars projected to your LED lit screen form NASAs data.

On the Golden Record their is one side of music.   A collection made within six weeks of launch comprises recordings from such diverse places as Zaire, India, Mexico, China, Japan, and an Indian raga from native America one of many. On the space shuttle set up using decommissioned ballistic missiles, the film shows the words United States of America as a tiered advert for earth consumption. After the asteroid belt this is thankfully gone.  Maybe a small Stars and Stripes lurks on the body of the craft. A message might have come back – What does United mean? – otherwise.

Voyager has a brain and is minded to correct anomalies. When perplexed at its own behaviors it goes back to the manual, the data programmed within it which has failsafes and parameters and extraneous what devices built in. It is more reliable than our own manual the Bible and contains only logical prognosis. Metaphor is out. By doing a reset it has survived numerous times. When launched it literally had birth pains as it – didn’t enter the world but entered space. If you imagine sitting on the outside of Voyager what you would se would be changing infinitely. If you looked then at what you were sitting on as a reference point it would be the familiar and static. The spacecraft itself and its unavoidable familiarity. Space cannot be weighed and densities are gravitational forces we cannot see or gauge in space yet Voyager is clean and clear of collision simply because of the unlikelihood of it ever colliding with any ‘thing’. What is realisable is that in, as one scientist puts it the chances of a collision are fifty years of a billion years, the chance of collision amounts to just that. Latin speaks otherwise. Tempus Edac Rerum – Time devours all things.

    
Planets discovery

The revelations from incoming data has put into visual context and most ‘gratifyingly’ reaffirms that all our known minerals exist in space. What is also very apparent is that they obey in kind, gravitational forces. In two for example : The Great Red Spot is a persistent zone of high pressure, producing an anticyclonic storm on the planet Jupiter, 22° south of the equator. It has been continuously observed for 187 years, since 1830. Also it conforms to a circular gravitas as an amorphous cloud of greater density as does the other clear example, making it no coincidence, the Great White Spot, also known as Great White Oval, on Saturn, named by analogy to Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, are periodic storms that are large enough to be visible by telescope from Earth by their characteristic white appearance. The spots can be several thousands of kilometers wide.
The Cassini orbiter was able to track the 2010-2011 instance of the storm, also known as the Northern Electrostatic Disturbance because of an increase in radio and plasma interference, or the Great Springtime Storm. What is read into that is our connectivity and when Carl Sagan asked as Voyager 1 was about to go beyond – to + 0.00.00 our time, and penetrate the globule which surrounds us and every gas planet a request to turn the camera around and position the spacecraft in a location to look back at the entire distance of its journey. When it was initially rejected by the Jet Propulsion Agency for one, he went as far as he could to achieve that and did. What is shown is extremely and of the most significant image probably ever taken. A selfie of ourselves as a planet n space. Then it left the globe of atmosphere the our universe exists in and continued as a straight line not like a mouse, (very short sighted, see Nature.com Through the eyes of a mouse) Voyager goes blind into space without hugging the skirting around the big room, it carries on with faith in the humanity that propelled it in a straight unfettered and unending line. When it reaches a border and is asked Where do you think your going? it will have some time working out how to to reply.


Emer Reynolds.  Juis sui en RockStar Writer Director.

Conclusion ####4

Space is spectacular and it is Voyager 1- 2 that conveys new discoveries of that wonder, all from the vessels trailing through space at 10 miles per second.  Seeing this enormous subject in a Cinema adds a vital level of understanding.  Even then the images are only shorthand for reality.  Only around 735 kg, these craft are continuing now, on their own, with 2 trailing way behind. As there is no clue so far, movie discusses, we don’t know if we are ‘alone’ in the universe and if anything exists in a time experience – back to that great utterance – ‘even if they have heads’ in the pathway of it on a fantastic journey which is described beautifully with an easy to follow chronological narrative.  It is told by the people who put the mission together and those who maintain contact and analysis of it speaking back to us.   I described how the data arrives, the grid ‘Excel’ like boxes and the narrative it tells is from simple zeros and ones interpreted by spectroscopes and out come images in astounding detail of the composition of the Gas planets it has encountered.  The majesty of a human constructed instrument, which if alien life encountered seems now more like a foreign object – an animal with eyes, the cameras tilting 26 and 200mm lenses on their arm, the plutonium charger which is the heartbeat and energy source and the strange antenna which talks back to the folk at home.

It is a spectacularly effective insight to our world and Solar system.

The film is relaying – ‘special effects’ get a credit – projections of space travel but the vast majority of the film involves telling the story through contemporaneous images of the assembly, launch, public updates and the teams descriptions of what it all means at least potentially.   The special effects utilised – it is so smooth an edit – are where I think the fly by digitally generated flights, which come in over the top of the frame and sail sublimely into an ocean of stars with the Voyager seen clearly with its unmoving unshifting composite self , travelling as that mysterious traveller obedient to its final instruction in finding, orbiting, the planets, instructed from within, then setting a new course to another, to the point where it goes beyond the globe protection of the planet Neptune.  That point is where all presence of it diminishes.  It is there now in another vast space journeying in a straight line for possibly (in terms of) billions of years.   The other factor informing theory is the formation of this expanding universe.  The talk of black holes at the formation of ‘multi-verse’ cosmos has an ‘event horizon’ commonly interpreted – at the boundary around a black hole on and within which no matter or radiation can escape.  Where the beginning and end is is unknown and even the question of them being the same point is what the film explores as a philosophical aspect of these discoveries.  For thousands of years the conjectures have been gathered by Astrologers informing our lives.  I have put a footnote which I hope expresses a nod to the ancient mariners of the Stars who stimulated all these participates interest in their own valued exploration.

Our knowledge is being acquired at a very fast rate. One hundred years of information and discovery in the 20th century is equivalent to the acquisition of the same quantity/qualities ty of discoveries made in as little as 12 years or even less. That is to say what was learnt in 100 years is now learnt in a tenth of that period and that is also being compressed.  The time it takes to discover things is itself reaching an apogee where we will be funtioning through reasoning taught via. artificial intelligence.

The next world altering discovery is very close.

The film has a dedication in the closing titles to Rhea Strong Fanning.

John Graham

31 August 2017

 

On at Queens Film Theatre from Friday 1 September through to and including Thursday 14 September 2017.  There are exceptions when there will be no screening on either Sunday 10, Tuesday 12, Wednesday 13.

The 6.00pm screening on Mon 4 Sept will be followed by a Q&A with director Emer Reynolds.

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Astrology

Mankind has come a long way. For more than two thousand years the sky has been laid out in a Planisphere of the heavens. The Planets names themselves speak to us in those radiant perpetual homilies stimulating inspiration beyond us. The sky is in mankinds eye a cast of astrological myths laid out in constellations. I have extracted (from The Witness of the Stars E.W.Bullinger) the interpretation given in the astrologers from Albumazer, Ulugh Beigh whose Arab astronomy laid out the principality taken on by Greek astronomers and more modern sciences.

The Sign Leo. (The Lion) note. The Lion is a maternal animal.  Messiahs consummated triumph.

Here we come to the end of the circle. We began with Virgo,(1) and we end with Leo. Belfast one who has followed our interpretation can doubt that we have here the solving of the Riddle of the Sphinx. For its Head is Virgo and its Tail is Leo!
In Leo we reach the end of the revelation as inspired in the word of God; and it is the end as written in Hea the heavens.

Bailly (Astronomy) says, “The Zodiac must have first divided when the Sun at the first Summer solstice was in the first (degree) Virgo, where the woman mans head joins the Lions tail”.

(1) Virgo. The Sign Virgo. (Coma as it is also called – is referred to in some texts as the coming of Jesus under the Star of Bethlehem.)  The Promised Seed of the the woman.

Here is the commencement of all prophecy in Gen. iii 15, spoken to the serpent :-” I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed : it shall bruise thy head, and thou shall bruise His heel”” …….. it lies at the root of all the ancient traditions and mythologies, which are simply the perversion of corruption of primitive truth. Virgo is represented as a woman with a branch in her right hand , and some ears of corn in her left hand. Thus giving a two fold testimony of the Coming One.

Everyone has a piece of the Stars and are in their own constellation.

So it’s apparent the Stars as first seen and interpreted were based on quasi religious affiliation. With superstitious though nevertheless philosophically imaginative and therefore believable to the ‘faithful’ followers of Astronomy the guides are still with us as is the mystery.

JG Sept. 2017

Risk : A Film Review

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Risk  A Documentary film.  1hr 34mns.

Credits. Julian Assange |Sarah Harrison | Jacob Appelbaum | Joseph Farrell | Renata Avila | Jennifer Robinson | Erinn Clark.

Directed and produced by Laura Poitras. Produced by Brenda Coughlin, Yoni Golijov. Executive Producers. Sam Esmail, Vinnie Malhotra, Charlotte Cook, Aj Schnack, Michael Bloom, Adam Pincus, David Menschel, Jess Search, Josh Braun.

Risk is living.
Watching this film is to reveal the background and recent history of Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder, as he continues, up to and including this films conclusion, to be confined within the British based Ecuadorian Embassy, Embadapa under continuing detention. It also take us to the USA and the recent Trump/Russian twists since Trump’s appointments were brokered.

For all the challenges making a film of this sort presents problems, of time and with changes arriving thick and fast it through recent revision stands solidly as an extremely informative documentary – regardless of the complex co traditions it presents.  “I thought I could ignore the contradictions. I thought they were not part of the story. I was so wrong. They’re becoming the story.” confides Poitras at some low hanging fruit of Julian Assanges –
firmly blethering (sorry Julian I couldn’t find another word!) views.  His on-camera intimate talk is a very uninteresting insight to his woolly, almost seeking alarm for the sake of alarm on camera in eyebrow raised marks (tumbleweed) and some sympathy is felt, given his imprisonment, when cameras rolls on.  It is after all though, a platform which cannot be turned away given his enforced hibernation.  It consequently shows the talk as uninteresting but the whole idea of a documentary is one at times of it becoming theatre and the actors are without a script.  Some people have been severely critical of the style and filmic indulgence of Laura Poitras whose shots take on the feel of a drama when misty window reflections and artfully caught shape and darkness illuminate the bleakness of a particular dilemma or circumstance.  I believe it entirely legitimate and it implies the truth is not what we are here to see but a construction dealt with a fixed deck.

Film Review Risk

Time discloses all.

The film starts of with a view of Julian Assange in the company of the Director mulling over the outline of their collaboration.  For Julian Assange this is a much healthier time as he has relative freedom and is (only!) under curfew in a friends house in deepest Norfolk with access to the beach.  It is 2011 and his trial concerning extradition to Sweden is being contested while sundry other things are about to unfold.  The main tiger in the room is the Wikileaks formation digital encrypted document Bradley Manning has placed on the site which a password protects.  The data document, it is learnt in this early part of the documentary, has been uploaded on the interface of Wikileals without password protection.  All of the USA secret files of operations accessed are unredacted and therefore contain good and bad data.  Essentially the window is open and paper is flying everywhere on natures wind – the global internet servers are available for anyone to see classified USA documents and make of it what they will.

The breach is on Hillary Clintons watch as Secretary of State and hurried anxious phone calls from Norfolk – Sarah Harrison, legal eagle, contacts the Whitehouse and try and alert the Presidential Office, as to the carrier pigeons in flight with her Governments information with the impending prospect of ever inquisitive persons monitors lighting up and printing off, for bedtime reading – prior to good wifi, sufficient storage, small tablets which go to sleep and produce real drama and most probably a rainstorm of dirty tricks and unscrupulous methodology which is without moral bounds.

The relationship between the film maker and Julian Assange is one of pragmatism.  He is in the clasp of legal and national sidetracking issues, and the drama of a documentary on one of the world’s most proflific activists probing the internet as a deconstructionist with exposé, after revelation, – high currency for any documentary maker.  So it has a purpose first of all which we must be well prepared for, is of hubris and confident trailblazing while underneath lies a story of individual imprisonment at the hands of powerful forces with his allies equipped with little more than a large corporations staffing levels – the volunteers are widespread and underground as they piece together support and inform the dialogue – they have unknown funds and heavyweight supporters probably.   The narrative is after all a needed platform.  All platforms are fair game and we get a glimpse of a pop star filming an amateur post type interview in the Ecuadorian embassy for fans and the interview is staged less formally than Assange initially conceived of it.  Then came the cringeworthy questions. Cleverly the talk was directed by Assange at the USA where the main audience of the video existed.

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Visionary in the dark

Laura Poitras is a very clever match of combatant for Assange as she disallows his taking over situations and firmly places the focus on the conditions and surrounding circumstances of the news not brought to the everyday exposure of the information war. Laura Poitras is also a fellow activist with the extraordinary film on Snowdon, Citizenfour, a groundbreaking style of news telling and undercover deliverance on her roster.  Then previously The Oath.  We are still not convinced or editorially equipped with disseminating this form of investigation and revelatory truth seeking and telling.  Every scene is chillingly real with absurdity of the everyday crashing in and out with natural dynamism having the alarming contrast just beside it.  It’s our reality of having without due process contrived to risk (first use of the word) allowing the Courts to remove him from the UK and place him in the unstable hands of a Swedish, see what way the wind blows, democracy. ‘… pretending they are a stickler for process.’ Assange.  Venues for the camerawork are Norfolk, Cairo, London, Fort Meade Maryland, (received footage?), Tunis, America (Democratic election convention), Berlin, all places where the Wikileaks narrative tales us.  Some of it is illustrative, such as conferences for nerdy hackers, or venues where Julian Assange draws crowds by his absence.  Frontline Club host large venue quasi conferences with speakers and networking possibilities.  Usually a tube stop or two away from mine hosts M16 and Foreign Office, Home Office spooks.  Although primary taps and surveillance is of more import.  The spies are everywhere and House of Cards needs a backstory.  A very unsavoury moment of trouble in the ranks is the overview of a parallel organisations leader also being wired for sexual misdealings.  Jacob Appelbaum is portrayed as a villain – (the film indicates no charges yet exist) – he drops a sexist comment in front of Muslim pupils of hacking talk.  It would just be as offensive in any location, private or public and here it is on film.  and he occupies another slot in this film, shot in Cairo, when he exposes the state run Mubarak directed, TE Data at a open symposium of internet providers, of shutting down Twitter traffic and platforms for media exchange.  This is accompanied by an outbreak in the room of rapturous applause.  Every country will have its internet traffic police while the ‘Engines’ of social media are themselves being censored or being controlled for improper conduct which a lot of will be politically slanted.

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Situation comedy

An interesting exchange is filmed in a quiet Countrylife inspired lounge, draped, scatter cushions with Dame Helena Kennedy and the non-speaking Gareth Peirce whose silence is equally – better than that actually – entertaining as the ultras trade axioms and lawyer psychology which is to prepare a Assange for his press a Court Appearance.  So Assange’s referencing of lesbian inspired ‘tag teams’ jumps out from the notoriously crass and febrile Assange speech which his blethering style exposes. The flushed and pyretic Kennedy does not know where to look and Poitras catches this English wordsmithing, with the same silence, the by now, presumably, dejected Gareth who has met real victims and fought tirelessly in the frontline of Human Rights sitting with controlled propriety.  Sublime and an example of ethicality.  No wonder Churchill wished Business to be written and agreement not based on conversation. Recall being everything.  The drink from which Wikileaks depends, so the contrast could not be more sweetly expressed.  Physician heal thy self.

The people who feature alongside Julian Assange were constant foils but most were equal to the Assange modus operandi.  The priority was to understand what was at stake. For this you need lawyers.  Not of the level and elevation of Peirce or Kennedy but the rookie type whose Court experience would be limited.  There is no validation of this but it was like having House of Cards interns at your beck and call.   Some were very much above the hubris and grandiose ‘I’m not a martyr’  but a conflicted human being type of projection Assange fronted up with.  Sarah Harrison is the Lawyer in chief.  Her steadiness and practicality and inmate wisdom was a valuable docking in the stormy waters.  Likewise the very clear headed forthright Renata Avila an articulate devilish driver of the nitty gritty and consequential.

In every sphere of public life corruption and catastrophic decisions amplify and Law is the stalking horse most rely on.  In the regimes and democracies it seldom abates. These islands can attest to the duplicitous role of Governance outflanking and disregarding Law and its victims are many.  Attribution happens on either side with the extensive new or relatively new form of scrutiny enabled by Wikileaks has opened up a whole extraordinary proof of this.  Recent events have presented with regard to dealings of nations intent on influencing anothers course.  Some may well be in relation to the safe storage in unblockchain protected localities of immense wealth, accumulated through regimes borderless dealings which have their nation’s looking vain for the money or restitution.  Imagine a prospective ‘West’ Presidential Candidate advising a sitting ‘East’ President (a perceived foe) where the accumulation can be secretly secreted.

Our information is incomplete
Our present dependence on fast electronic communication which is barely 40 years old, across continents and borders without the impediment of time or locality has made us evaluate the systems we use of governance and the open transmission of information.  Around 1960 TV was upon us as a window into other worlds and media dissemination of news and was authorially controlled by the license providers, there came in 1967-69 a western appetite to know what was going on in Eastern block countries, how civil society worked in China, Indonesia, with a vision exposed of inequalities defined in Human Rights terms.  Inwardly the USA became, with Civil Rights activism, a lantern for freedom fighters to demonstrate and to a lesser extent in Paris and London these voices for freedom exploded into living rooms instead of through newspapers but as barely 12 hour old news.  The crush came with the Eastern Czechoslovakian Dubjek being raised from obscurity as an opposition leader into a virtual figurehead for non violent revolution.

That was 1969 and what materialized was a culture of investigative journalism.  The story of much earlier news manipulator/manipulated ‘reporter, Roger Casement and news management comes to mind.  Alongside it the apartheid staining otherwise seemingly benign places such as South Africa and Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and nowhere was out of bounds except the totalitarian nations such as China and by dint North Korea a hateful terrorising oligarchy which sat as a de facto attack dog for China and its wider interests.  Our story of Wikileaks contains a terrine of global pottage, c’est-à-dire, a conglomeration of mass ingredients cooking away with sometimes overspill and untasteful results.  The mix is toxic and it’s terrine is Wikileaks and it’s operators, head of which is it’s founder, the Australian Julian Assange.  His name is synonymous nowadays with a frontiersman like truth seeker.  He does not rely on God or mantras but his individual conscious is high toxically for him, developed to speak of the sins of the universe and their authors by revealing not their persona – because participation in the construct Assange wishes to disrupt and reveal its contents is consiratorailly under the control of a minority of the minority who have vast sales of self-identity, perceptions of nationhood and history which has accumulated to a self-representation and nullifying absurdity which is the twin of Julian Assanges own idealism.

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Despair and loathing

Both Assange and the people whose information is secretively held and the indictments of their corporate collusion is in the folder of the vast exchanges with reliance on technology sparing disclosure.  Wikileaks is a data hungry cyber animal and its food is
everywhere protected by insider traders like Chelsea (Bradley) Manning and Edward Snowden whose instincts for change and robust propriety were challenged by the information the American public, in whose name these revealed actions were being disposed, unaccountably, but had reached them – Manning, Snowdon – as persons of conscious whose instinct was to upload the information they had obtained via. protected routes to Wikileaks so they could decide on publication.   This film which must be itself be read as a document with T’s crossed, comas carefully placed, is a reveal of sorts.  It has a news management feel with a climateric cresendo worthy of an opera.  The tailpiece is well known with the election of Donald Trump being sullied by the interventions, presently denied of state sponsored data breaching which firstly created Fake News around Hillary Clinton and saw the infiltration of Fake News of her Democrat candidate runner Bernie Sanders be eclipsed as information became micro managed – now it is contagious with Donald taking to the Twitteriati to spell out in 120 characters his character at others expense.

Allegiances among the Wikileaks foundation are an engine room of Lawyers, high octane interns getting a fix on freedom of information as led by their ringleader Julian.  The film is a world wide documentary of events with certain areas seemingly out of bounds.  GCHQ has occasional moles but it is a minor pest control issue.  The unbearably influential rise of independent disenfranchised terrorists as written toxically in Northern Ireland as a template by the IRA is untroubled by any Wikileaks.  Whether it was the authorship of Protestant, State collusion, Catholic freedom fighters that period was when the nail bomb, coffee jar bomb and car bomb all were sworn in as terrosit devoces.  The car bomb as well as lorry-jacking with a driver virtually chained to a bomb became routine methods of attacking authority, consequences be damned, fellow human beings collateral appalling damage.  Property destroyed was not enough.  Institutions stood unaffected, they simply moved locations as and when.  Offices and civil life was targeted and an unwired network prevailed with murderous results.  A large Northern Ireland, British Establishment shaped hole exists in the Wikileaks story.

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Conclusion ####4

Cannes 2016 saw the release of this film which has been re-edited since the Democratic National Committee email leaks and also picks up on allegations about sexual abuse by another activist Jacob Appelbaum in a neat parallel to Assange difficulties which stem firstly from his own private life.  Where there they are to be believed or not is not part of Laura Poitras’s intention.  She must place testimony on the record where given and it is not avoided.  Primarily she has followed this phenomenon, the Wikileaks impact, since before the Edward Snowden film Citizenfour which went places the fictional one was intensely lacking in.  The balance of the film is caught well by the filmmaker and it is brilliantly effective in revealing the revealer insofar as ‘civility’ and privileges of privacy impose.  Having introduced it at Cannes as one thing required an updated version given the significance of revelatory exposés on the Democratic fight for the Presidency.  The reading of the film als needs adjusted.  It is very unfair to see this film as breaking conventions of documentary.  Every documentary you will have seen has a slant or tableau formed through the vision of its author. The Director here is in possession of a subject which intrudes her and delving into the minutiae behind Embassy doors is fascinating.  Not only for what it reveals but for us to see the double standards lives are made to comply with in any democracy.  Forgetting about the subject – temporarily – it becomes a portrait of human condition and conditioning unparalleled as information is our voice and rhetoric.  The everyday confrontation with falsehood is so theatrical.  Amal Clooney is witnessed from a roving overhead crowd shot of a congratulatory walk from the English Court by his side every step of the way.  The spectacle of the press is amazing to witness as we are not yet ready to screen courtroom proceedings and definitely not for tweeting out proceedings.  The knife edge is the Directors and she comes up with some close shaves.  Apparently some zoos have been doctored at the ‘actors’ request while it resonants later with the theatrical disguise of Julian Assange last public appearance.  The one adopted to go to the Ecuadorian Embassy.  The red post box seen outside is one he cannot use.  If he were to step onto the street to post a letter in the stout transmitter of private correspondence.  They were green before July 1874 when they were painted post box red.

It is an outstanding, at times electrifying piece of work and addresses the duality of providing another platform to hype the task undertaken by Julian Assange and the need for filmic storytelling to be compelling and it borders on a sitcom type of sedentary watch with mother at times as a lot of talking from the principal party is only watchable if some twist of narrative or misplaced meaning or word makes you pay acute attention because here is someone who has brought some riveting knowledge to our times.  Don’t blame the messenger.

A credit arose as it closed  –  In loving memory of Michael Ratner (1943-2016), who devoted his life to justice

John Graham

28 June 2017

Belfast

Screening at Queens Film Theatre     Showing: 30 June 2017 until 06 July 2017

Belfast Film Festival Short Films 2017


Belfast Film Festival : Short Films 2017

In order of screening at Queens Film Theatre 1 April 2017.

Briefing

Mystery, Death, Life and Reflection on all our natures. There is a rather loose rural life skirting each programme in contrast to the dramatic and dystopian type narratives of the previous year.!
The basic parameters of the short films selected to be shown in the Belfast Film Festival season have numerous presences and absences of the Irish film world. Seen through the direction and vision, the film screen can conjure with our local vision as a mythical or unintentional reality. Reality is frequently asserted as a starting point as it comprises characterisation, location, a foothold of a concept which will go forth and tumble and rise before us in a picturesque journey. The journey is sometimes held in a narrow gate, sometimes commonplace, sometimes unfamiliar yet known.
The road and genus loci are non specific (local does not require genus loci in my view – a spiritual sense is enough and the senses combined can detect it) in many giving us a wider view than the Ireland of the origins of the story or filmmakers output. Many of these films have been supported by Ireland based ‘film institutions’ and some with local authority, even Credit Union backing. The locality is in many senses not important for the universality of the psyche has no borders and the themes realise this time after time. It is worth bearing in mind the displacement while seeing contexts and settings we are normally overfamiliar with. Such is the wealth of new filmmaking we are getting used to seeing locally developing progressive waves of filmic thought being swept onto film, digital and otherwise and skilfully, beautifully realised. The acting, cinematography, music, direction and production capabilities are seen here as gaining traction year on year. This season is roaming into different melts of concept and vision than others, therefore directionally original. They stand as individual units too within the season itself and each differentiates between the alternative frequencies of thought they engage. To bring positive critique to each is difficult as there are a range of competencies and instilled vision coming out of them. They each however have a single story on screen and of it as well as having a future to penetrate and become more widely experienced.

I have tried to give a view which is helpful, of personal insight and each will differ according to the expectations of the viewer as it happens to be the case everyone’s view is different and valid. Chekhov said you should write everything – except denunciations. So do not read into these opinions as anything other than impressions.

Childer
This is a domestic comic thriller/chiller of a simple narrative form. Well shot and full of colour it has a simple theme of keeping nature including its unpredictability in humans prone to error at bay. Living on the outskirts of town in a nice elegant stone clad brand new house with lots of open space would seem a grand place to bring up your family. The childer refers to the children on the fringes of this dream home. In the house are mother and son. She is anxiety riddled and has a compulsive obsessive disorder she does not take pills for and is incessantly cleaning organising and vexing on her domestic chores.  In Persil freshness she hangs out the whites, no colours, (despite her penchant for – directors choice? – red dresses and clothing) which brings her into contact with, at the bottom of the freshly mown green sward garden, four children. Two boys, two girls aged possibly between seven and thirteen. When she sees them and is discomforted by their affinity with their surroundings, they goad her and disobey her retorts which makes her go on retreat and counter planning more strict protocols which in turn test her child’s sense of belief in this obsessiveness. His contribution is to be the brunt of some actions. We see her become obsessed and the huge dreamlike forest becomes in her mind contested space and overwhelms her. The sunshine only serves to enhance the borders and confrontations. It is played heavily for black humour and slickly filmed in a normalised world and it fills the curiosity of how absurd it can get. It does not go too far in its reach and is a fairly decent conversation of the borders of civilised behaviour without going too Gothic, too horrific, to dismiss and it’s good entertainment. Avoiding biblical metaphors it is simply put – cleanliness is next to the forest. I wonder if a male director could have got away with making the woman the brunt of such a waywardness?  I add another common frailty in a later review – The Clock Makers Dream about costume referring to this film also.  Director / Writer Alison Clarke. Duration 18:43


Break
Tedium takes many forms and film about it is, from the outset dangerous territory without a handle to alter the tedium and vision or groundhog premise. With a world of coffee shops next to workplaces and multiple nuanced choices our principle play is satiated while alongside it, the attraction here is for loner and desk jockey Derek that of interacting with a Coffee shop assistant, Jenny with overdeveloped familiarity, constructing in Derek’s head in its empty spaces outside the workplace scenarios beyond reality. One swallow of coffee or joke does not a relationship make, however foreseen it raises its head in absurdity in an overcooked way.  After the inevitable comes the readjustment. None of the aforementioned is sufficient to hold any empathy and it is ultimately lost on a worthless cause in every sense.  Director/ Writer Brian Moran Duration 11:00


A long shot
I’ve had several bets on the Oscars and I wouldn’t put money on this story short making it anywhere near the winners enclosure when the turn arrives next year. The sporting juices are satiated in visions of Croke Park Dublin. An unlikely but true location for a soccer match between Ireland and Germany and the iconic stadium is the star as it presides over a flat land North County Dublin. A place where the sun also rises. The setting of a couple, the girl, Sarah, lad, Larry who are sharing a house, was one which took time to get my head around with a bedridden Dad asleep upstairs and downstairs barely a stick of furniture. The sparseness being a disjoint. Dad frail as he is, is called upon for anecdotal tone setting about the rare oul times – pre Johnny Giles up through the Keane era to the present halcyon days, comparable to Italia ’90 when Ireland became European when Ray Houghton’s left foot took Ireland to a confidence never before believed. A wager is conceived by Larry for a change in fortune except the money wagered is not his. The roles are well played and it is quick into its pace while it arrives at its pay dirt result in a shaky state of unease and has a small twist in the tail. It was an unlikely concept held together with some decent dialogue and feeling but it failed to stimulate as a complete cohesive peace in my view.  Director / Writer Andrew Jordan. Duration 14:55


Cousins. 
More than a friend less than a brother, the  observation goes about Cousins which opens its story on a shoreline and becomes disjointed in its indoor outdoor chosen environments.  The cousins – unstreetwise Jason (12) and his cousin  – risk taker bully Leon (14) who have never met before are tested and soon their bonding becomes a complicit compact with both taking part in a savage brutal violent act which is off the limits of anything either has previously done. As a film construct it is overkill.  There are numerous more effective ways of delivering its message but it also not in either character no matter how the idea got stuck in the writers head.  Getting unhinged has its signals and though people may not see them the clues should have been more subtle. The lame lane scene is insufficient on this score.  It spirals into a confrontation with authority. The young filmmakers are no stranger to the vicissitudes of normal life in Dublin and apparently know no bounds as far as Dublin’s scope is concerned as their theatre of film making marks out familiar places. The fault I have with it is, it brought no more than standard situational inner city struggles while it kept within its own (constraining group work lacking leadership, ownership?) remit – without extending, contrasting its place within drug culture, out of control criminalit.  It tries to imitate (unScorsese like – a film handle used) and they need to their game at a remove or two from this with a complexity beyond the easy familiar – which they deliver assured and  confidently enough – to allow criticism which holds they appear to have smarts but need originality, twist, presence altered and refocused on societal problems, to intimidate and put the heebeejeebees into an audience as Scorsese can do with all sorts of things including Jesuit Priests.  Director/Writer Ciaran Behan. Duration 14:01


A pornographer woos

The title is an overplay of an underplayed act of seduction. A married couple on the beach have the sunshade up, the mother in law in a deck chair, the kids hyper in sunscreen and the reconstructed Michael Smiley as said pornographer fully clothed and reading as he also surveys his wife’s curves and constructs a love poem – stand over John Donne. Melanie McHugh soaks up the sun in a classic black bathing suit and seduces the camera along with Michael as both ignore their family adjacent. When he passes the poem to his wife it creates a central peak and – no spoilers then will follow. It is a sunny smiley film with an almost perfectly formed play on attractions fuel except it never reaches a climax. Dreams become flesh and although it felt awkward at times, like sucking on a boiled sweet, it moves swiftly enough past those minor slips. It is all the more pleasurable that we don’t get to see MS in MS trunks, boxers, sporting a range of bodily delights kept only for his partner MS, and he only speaks a few words in his Norn Ireland drawl. I do like to be beside the seaside and the sangria can wait. Post a love poem and see what you get?  Director Patrick Myles. Duration 07:00


Incoming call
The highly original take on having an alter ego or future/past tense embodiment is an instant draw to this excellent short film. Songwriter singer Kerri played by Naseen Morgan is debuting her talent in a club, Voodoo credited actually, I thought it was Menagerie but the Voodoo have ripped off their vibe and look! For an uncomfortable introduction just before she takes to ‘stage’ and the open mike she receives an incoming message from her future self. If only you could get them to tell you whose hot and whose not in the data world and who won the war we could play God. But it introduces actually a good format for a longer tale perhaps when the instructional self is your primary driver and risk is removed. It provides tangible perplexing truths as to whether you are the best judge and need you commit to something to achieve – what? The story is well put together and the mobile phone footage is so good it leaves you comparing the normal scenes with it and feeling short changed. Only a few films I recall have a decent club feel and then sporadic. The brilliant Victoria set in Berlin 2016 has the many sides of an interior. There is a big range in Berlin and it’s not the Bergeron type or the KitKat type club films have yet to go there but nevertheless is close to the hedonistic style this club fetishes over.  Director / Writer Eion Cleland. Duration 11:20


Dam
Several of these films unfortunately for me don’t fit into the review format I used last year – a)Plot, b)What’s good with it, c)What’s bad with it, d)Verdict. This one does not fit either as it’s too sharp and distinct to narrow it’s feel and the variety of readings it projects. Basically it is a young mans guide to survival when tragedy hits and there are few opportunities to speak of it let alone to peers. So we are transported to the Spelga Dam which itself is a fascinating and camera hunger location.  The penned sheep in the publicity shot is a comedic take on imprisonment of the mind!?  The two principles – one an annoying and insecure foppish young adult Dikey, whose more ponderous mate, Smurf (on the outside – both hold in hurt memories) go back to the place where their mate took leave of this mortal coil. The fact they go back is a challenge and they look for distractions in conversation and the exploration of the place which is a good choice in taking time to breathe and take in the story.

Once the film settles down – when the vodka bottle they have brought along in anticipation perhaps of a measure of courage how ever negative – takes a part as a token messenger. You’ve the bottle speak – another metaphor, the film becomes mature though falters in its use of ‘imitation’ peril. The symbolism of the Dam holding things back is a deluge waiting to happen in itself whether intentional ( there s a mention of their friend Enda holding things back) or not but figuratively it projects sense and sensitivity into the whole body of the work. The core message is clean and delivered with sensitivity. It is no small measure of the ability to convey such hard felt los and the crushing reality harboured that talking helps. A core message delivered that despite being young, wet behind the ears, holding natural fears, using substances as false props the decisive thing is to bring clarity and purpose to bear and connect with people who listen and look for advice and answers and basically love for yourself and fellow human beings.  Director Conan McIvor. Duration 18:00


The Order
Darkwoodsmen don overalls, hit the kill button on their cause celebre and plot the demise of an informer. It’s neither done with grace, insight or sense of reality or governance of a terrors that organisation taking on the Stakeknife role of enforcer. They even brought a seat along for a a wait. It couldn’t have been the Larne woods then, where the PSNI ate their sandwiches while the stash of guns were buried. More like the Wicklow Hills which doubles as a conventional hit squad location of choice. It was a miserable film with a cockamayny twist and ultimately forgettable.  Director Matthew Brown. Duration 12:53


My father, my blood
Young eyes old witch, middle aged man in longcoat. A child watches their father murder a woman in cold blood. More than and other than the first thought of it being an exorcism it’s fiercely terminal. As they continue to live nomadically on the west coast of Ireland, their relationship begins to break apart. Both in the wild mountainous terrain of home territory. John Robert Brown has crafted a film which is outstanding as a drama mystery. His actors, Daniel – Jordanne Jones, Cillian – Barry Ward, principally, and Hag – Maire Hastings, Siren – Anarosa De Eizaguirre Butler, Father – Wesley O’Duinn, Mother – Miriam Devitt, Little Girl – Jade Reidare are the most convincing seen in this season of shorts and of such capable, significant talent they enable the strangeness of this tale to impress on the viewer a real almost Shakespearian sense of surreal otherworld. It is full of the atmosphere of many of the plays without imitating any. It is hard to figure out what is going on. The relationship in the centre is full of mystery as it was revealed to me – the father, referring to the girl as boy, is wishing she was a boy.  Jordanne Jones is incredible as the young Daniel and is full of emotive nuance and bewildering mystery as the girl juvenile in a central role which only points to an natural acting talent who is aware of the finer acting needs some of her peers and several a-listers could gain from attaining.  In RTE Red Rock an older actress who has similar credentials is Leah Minto as a Garda. Leah calls her part Ash as having street smarts. She is another actress who reads her role extremely well. The space shifting and shortness of this film is its downfall as it is of a potentially wider scope and maybe like Magpie did for Stephen Fingelton act as a calling card for a main feature film. It is shot extremely beautifully and assuredly by Ewan Mulligan though it’s over SFX’d at times. The whole team however deserve credit as it’s not easy to give this look and feel to a drama and give it an Irish feel which is well capable of fitting many stories and maybe reinventing familiar narratives – wildly – as long as the include the talent of J. Jones!  Director/ Writer John Robert Brown.  Duration 12:40


Pause
Here dialogue is delivered by tape to a woman in a place she is either returning to for a break, reflection away from the rat race or here to redress and confront a troubling past. It appears this is partially true as she is familiar with the tapes and within them are an uncomfortable record and it’s not Eleanor McAvoy or Shania Twain. Heartfelt are the revealed troubling accounts she rehears. Times are like Get Back Up or Better Times but this is a remote island, Inishbiggle in Co. Mayo, where there is oddly a faint signal for mobile reception. There is a confusing, for audience and Janine Hardy and the viewer of a sense of reality which is evoked mainly by the landscape. It is play on modern necessity to revisit the past, as opposed to previous generations who had to forego the luxury of this journey. Nonetheless people do find a need to sort out particular parts of their past life’s and move on but the memory is not always reliable and things often turn out to be fluid. Other means of exploring this are of greater effect and while it is a decent shot at a particular Pause in a persons story it is does not sit in the memory for too long.  Director/Writer Niamh Heery.  Duration 08:17


Moira Fortuna
The immigrants story is colourful as is the case in this experimental drama which incorrectly is described in programmes as being composed of only three shots whereas it begins with the Moira pacing through the tree lined streets of Hampstead to the Heath where awaits a chance encounter with Mark a young, introverted, shaven headed Irishman contemplating the non sense of space he finds in a remote shelter where his counterfoil Moira arrives seeking a light for her Gauloise cigarette (I imagine) like a winged charioteer of the logo she sweeps into the mind of Mark as a gallant inquisitor. The premise is easy on the eye and it is an escapist stylistic work reliant on tweaks and colourist framing eccentricity whchnos old/new school filmmaking and slightly indulgent. The narrative, dialogue is self centred and vaguely Proustian. As an adventure it is sadly overwhelming of the two main participants whose contribution is very engaging but untested in silences, activity or personal connection.  Director/ Writer Ed Smith. Duration 19:18


The Climb
In the life of others there are unknown hardships and family tragedies which never appear on the surface and then only through contracted framed incidences. For a short to take on grieving and loss in through the metaphor and literal reenactment of a Climb on a mountainside in Northern Ireland there is a sense of jeopardy portrayed by the two participants in the Climb. The teacher and the novice climber this is a depiction based on an actual tragedy and carries it with emotional quality and sensitive slow paced revealing how how such things are overcome. Loss by the widow played by Joanne Crawford, with Ian Beattie as the instructor. Some parts of the intended story do not carry. It is easy to miss the element that this for the fictional Julia is a climb on her adventure loving late husbands favourite mountain, Hen Mountain In the Mournes for example. For a true story it is deals with with a degree of moderation and sensitivity which fails to make it push itself as a short film story of far reaching insight. However well conceived and put together it is with the largesse of a consistently efficient film company it fails to deliver in the main part of new vision.  Director/Writer Lynne Davison.  Duration 09:20


The Ladies
Be prepared for toilet humour of a moderated kind. No harmful or toxic elements are shown, seen and all is piloted very well in the quest to give a set of dating circumstances a new slant. Apprentice dater, the amusingly inept and self-effacing youth Robbie a callow boy wishing to rose to the occasion of a date in a posh restaurant. He is seated waiting for his date to turn up and then sees an Aunt and Uncle who require to know too much. In getting an alternative seat a mate who happens to work at the establishment is asked to direct him to the toilet which is the source of the central plank of the introduction to the protocols of dating. Don’t listen to others for advice being one first rule. Whelehans Wines (Restaurant) of Loughlinstown I am sure would wish to assure future customers that the scenes in the film are entirely fictional and there is no shortfall in their excellent hospitality nor their facilities meeting all the needs and proper expectations of their diners. As a comedy piece it is well directed and well cast with a fresh and good paced unwavering sense of that area of entertainment it is extremely difficult to deliver something fresh, rounded and with a uniqueness despite the heavy measure of iterhaps having only one real joke to relate. It is a short so it is not going to trouble you with the what happened next. Though it has a cute ending.  Director/Writer Juke McKane. Duration 09:44


Homecoming
The narrative here is a familiar tale here North and South of migration and return. The take on it here is a young man working his fathers farm part time alongside his brother who we don’t meet and it shows his routine of daily feeding the group in lower fields presumably late autumn. There is another returnee, a young woman about seven years separate their last encounter having grown up together. An overlong sheep trailing intrudes, adds as a needless buffer and it replaces a missing part, a third dimension or diversion – even an introduction – like – taking a shop trolley back to the local one village shop/post office and meeting the person and saying you’ll drop by later. Instead we get an angry almost phone call? What’s that about? It had potential and it realised it partially in the good conversation dialogue of thoughtfulness regarding both these modern young Irish people. It had some solidity therefore it getting the message across but was let down in my view by other choices.  Director/Writer Sinéad O’Loughlin. Duration 13:55


Emergency stop
When you see another road trip expect human or alien interventions. So when we get the emergency stop it arrives in an unusually disorientating form requiring immediate explanation. The two characters are the girl behind the wheel and what the stop calls for, a partially dressed young woman. The driver at first appears to be in shock but it turns out very different. A male –  I wonder again – if the horror and the desperation which is laden on to be a character cinematic shock – fulfilled plus – would be seen as acceptable and necessary to achieve the reveal.  I think it would have been scorned as a bit patrightfully. It is a brief piece of nastiness anyway and is of shock value only. No heightened colour or darkness, (? tried to make it as naturalistic as possible so as not to give away the – you have to disclose any level of …. occurs anyway?) no distinct shape or vision in the camerawork or editing and it comes to a stop leaving you feeling disappointed.  A momentary Diane Jessie Miller lapse as there is very good work preceding it.  Director / Writer Diane Jessie Miller. Duration 05:41


Narcan
By far this film is the most like a mainstream movie and potentially of a bigger form. Even a mini series.  The story is set in New York with a great scene setting and character intro which shows a paramedic crew setting of on a day’s work with Irishman Sean Ryan leaving loose ends on a day’s start with his wife and child. They fit a tangible unit and subject setting up several possibilities and secured in this beginning Séan is revealed as full of anxiety unlike his negro co-driver. The daily routine is far from it and involves visit after visit to familiar haunts of them caring for seriously hurt human beings hanging onto life as they are called to apply first medical assistance which is life threatening – sometimes in both parts of the equation. It is brilliantly realistically shot and the acting too is superb. The part of Sean’s wife is handled empathetically and convincingly as a woman placed in a foreign city in a homemaking unit with the trappings of improved lives emerging put on the precipice through the job Séan does. It is well scripted and for a New York narrative it is unusual in that it follows an ‘ordinary joe’ going about his day job in the city streets. Several films I am reminded of go into the place of seeming to reveal a part of NY unseen by use of an effective core. Ira Sachs film of last year Little Men does it brilliantly.
This is from a Limerick man and it’s won several awards for Peter McNamara and crew and cast who do a mighty fine job.
The title is from – Naloxone, sold under the brandname Narcan among others, is a medication used to block the effects of opioids, especially in overdose. Naloxone may be combined within the same pill as an opioid to decrease the risk of misuse. When given intravenously, it works within two minutes, and when injected into a muscle, it works within five minutes. This film works in 20mins. and has after effects. I leave it of the roster for my favourite as it is singularly expansive and has is clearly outstanding with a very professional result which I nominate as a Special Award Joscar as I want to highlight other ‘firsts’ deserving special mention. So the origin of this film is also revealed as – While working behind a bar he would hear a wealth of stories from migrant Irishmen but one set of stories in particular stood out from the rest, An Irish paramedic working the streets of New York who would regale him with stories of being on the job and everything gritty detail that it entailed. Fascinated by what he heard he began to write during quiet moments while working in the bar, the blueprint of the Narcan screenplay was ultimately born from these scribbles on the back of beermats and napkins. It’s made.  Director/Writer Peter McNamara.  Duration 20:00


Second to none
Cartoonified twins are competitors in old age. While they presumably never had any hang ups while growing up and why would they the clock doesn’t lie. One came out first and one has just become the oldest living person in Cartoonville. The expressive and deeply intense animation is broad and well shaped. It puts up a gripping little story on a mere seven minutes that flies by. In the end you are warmed and horrified and made sceptically of all elderly folk who look unsettlingly cheerful. It might even get a 12 certificate as it’s only plasticine/clay?!  Director / Writer Vincent Gallagher. Duration 07:10


Groundless
Mary played by Love/Hate Aiobhinn McGinnity is an inner city Dublin single mum. It’s probably best getting that role out of the way in a short! Niaomi Harris, she alleges, did it in Moonlight. Here there is a difference with Mary retaining her faculties.  It could become a hoop around any good actresses neck portraying a subject familiar in so many outlets fact and fictional.  Son Mark is in with the wrong people. Dorset Street is typecast as a lonely street of crime and Garda chasing their tails while hell spirals as a flood about everyone’s ears. For the narrative this film takes it to the ultimate test of love and tests the appetite for continued immersion in a face of violence never seen in reality except to those close to and in the locality of actions which see the body bags and those who arrange the internment of their loved ones right in front of them.  While it is a very accomplished piece it does unfortunately only unsettle and is of incomparable relation to the street crime seen across Ireland and a constituent of most deprived urban western cities. Narcotics are a normal feature. The same weekend – unplaced out in media were the deaths of five young people in the Belfast City area with probable links to contaminated drugs supplied but the violence meted out was and is a destroyed body. Not shot but shut off with drugs instantaneously.  This also in the line of other more savage crimes also having young victims around the same time in the same locality. Narcan fits the spaces and more as far as the complex arbitrary exposure to harm and death with the important key of the Paramedic’s daily trauma clearly setting it apart. Director/Writer Eimear Callaghan.  Duration 10:20


Lady Death
The cloak and spectre of death which is a visitor to everyone comes in the (offset) horror genre film short telling the world of a guardian who is not angelic but places herself as the arbiter of all things final. Lady Death has a way about her which is basically too fundamental. In a journey of youthful discovery Lady Death who is twenty something harbinger of doom in her day post – seeing to the soon to be despatched, tortured souls, – is caught in a frail limbo and sees contentment which she only is able to enable through her portentous clients. She has wisdom beyond her years and is herself fixated with life’s carousel though in the converse to us – as she witnesses wrong choices of doubt, self analysis, which death is not intended for. Having scruples she seeks out the vulnerable to become their Gabriel. As writer Director Karen Quinn puts it ‘Death is not the bad guy, life is.’ With her lonesome task carried on young shoulders she meets a young man whose plight in his hands is doomed. The ill-boding stars align to tell this bearded youth of an apocalypse imploding in his mind while around him the world produces its daily beauty and cycle regardless tempting and fate to his conclusion. Karen is of a similar age to the actress and actor and is instinctively sharp on alternative views. She also delivers some great words – ‘Death is not meant for the young’ ‘Fear is a part of life’. Move over Aristotle. While Lady Death and the young man meet on the waterfront, one sees the bright lights of Belfasts central riverside in two shades, the bright fast moving daily hustle contrasting with the lit up colour of the night sky and moon reflecting on the water all that calmer but equally perplexing – the other sees no joie de vivre but I won’t say which one. The cinematographer though does as the film is shot particularly insightfully around the weir walkway and some ‘Cy Twombly’ (there is a lot of referencing him in my my reviews so learn about the cinematic angle if you haven’t already!) painterly colours and vibrancy lifts the mood. Again an insightful choice.  There is a sharp moment courtesy of Tesco Lisburn Road near the fair trade bananas which is a non sponsored moment. This is highly interesting, entertaining take on the old certainty by a light hand with a deft crew and only the occasional wobble. (Referring to the backdrop of brick which is too much of a students staple – leaning against walls! and multiple [edit?] to and fro on the bridge ‘encounter’ sequence – it moved too much) But all said it was a very good piece of work and the smoothness of a longer piece may create a breakthrough film. The writing being the chief strength. All to mature and form still hopefully as it leaves you wanting more but not necessarily the same thing.  Director/Writer Karen Quinn. Duration 11:40


Pebbles
The territory of Maeve Binchy or a terse Hugh Leonard or even Brian Moore spring to mind in seeing this narrative unfold. The rich seam of the future providing the newly married in an earlier era of say the fifties had authorial potential as well as real possibilities. We have here a Film of a woman returning to her honeymoon hotel to meet with her now estranged husband whose promise of fifty years previously was – whatever became of them – they would return to the Bray Hotel in which they first became a wedded couple. The pebble is a symbol pressed into the hand all those years ago.
Pebbles are strange things and on a woman being brought one with a cross on it after she said, bluebells are best left in the hedgerow, the suitor said ‘It’s a sign the marriage would be blessed.’ For her reply came ‘No Priest can bless a marriage where there isn’t one.’
Many beaches will have similar tales. It is far too literal and unidirectional to see the woman here on the beach with a heavy suitcase in her comfy trainers, with aa dress on and heavy coat to then traipse across to the seafront hotel missing a vowel from its sign. There are a smart young couple dining in the window seat watching each other’s eyes like they’ve discovered this weeks lotto numbers and won’t tell a soul. It only would take a minute to cross the street and get a ticket. All sorts come to mind as this slow work gathers enough steam to boil an egg. Pity it’s sans salt and an egg cup. Basically the film lacks substance and will he won’t he is barely of interest as so many similar tales seem good at first sight on the page as the author has embellished the notion with plenty of asides and meandering to escape the fact it’s a non story of sentimental value for the idly curious. The ‘couples’ place and hotel act well in their assigned parts but it passes quickly with the Sky hardly changing.  Director/Writer Jonathan Shaw Duration 14:55


The Clock Makers Dream
Time holds everything in its hands. For a filmmaker, animator the time frame has stopped. The magic begins when the Clockmaker introduces his management to time. Here is a whimsically travelled, very well doctored reality in a kind of visitor Centre Ireland town or village with the clockmaker returning to find all things stopped not least the town clock. George Meilie is cited as an inspiration. Ever since I saw people parading around racecourses a decade or more ago with quite effectively courtiered horses head pieces on to spin the atmosphere and ironically not to frighten the horses, I’ve seen the use in film as a cop out of imagination. The same flaw entered wth the very first film in the set here at the screening, Childer. There are several inspirations and it had me thinking while watching of Jacque Tati whose absurdity was in the same Gallic charm this conveys. It must be the Brittany connection. Even Dali is a bellwether. Our Clock Maker is in a world having not found live ŵhen time stops and this is the sadness of the piece which propels him into action and adventure. So another lesson there? You only find out you have been inactive in your search for true love, or insufficiently charged before time comes to a standstill and ‘the chase’ has also stopped and love is not only sought but needed.
The concept of the stopping of time is cleverly teased out to play with notions of living in the present. Only now existing. No future release tracking of time is needed. Conversely all the above takes time and this is the fascination of momentary belief suspension. See what I did there?! Shocks appear on screen in this arrested time as it is important to realize the resolved does not happen without a time lapse. Take the Irish historical narrative for one. Blow up Nelsons Column and you get to regain 100 square feet of territory in O’Connell Street. Now what name did it have before? If you look back in time as the clockmaker does the past is seen as a precursor to that broken heart you have or that grief you once had. The present is unresting because it starves you of memory and displaces the potential plans of tomorrow. How many hands have you got and where are they to point? The clockmaker remembers things he has made and now remembers for that is all there is left to do. The doll after doll made before clocks turned to him. If time had more time it would be its shadow. If your hands do not gesture you are not alive and moving on. As they say time heals.  Director/Writer Cashell Hargan. Duration 13:30


Gridlock
In the holiday season, especially in the Wicklow Hills it’s easy to take a back road and find yourself in a traffic jam. It is a welcome sight when it’s on the screen and your not in it particularly as this script has crafted together a loose collection of screwball half witted and cockamamie,ad as hares traveling folk who each have a story. Which has the story? They all have a part in unearthing it. Form the back seat of a car the child getting on trying to behave as if this was what her friends at school think would least expect her to be subjected too and the sun is splitting the sky and there are so many other kids to play with. No. She passively sits and listens to her Da’s rant. When her Dad gets out of the car to see what’s going on he finds a hay art turned over and Goya black horse lying as dead as it can act on the ground. It’s surrounded by a squabble. When he returns to the car straight away he finds Emma is missing. The instincts kick in as he looks all around to see if she’s gone for a pee or is down the other side resting her legs or talking to someone in another car. No. She has gone. The car driver directly behind is quizzed followed by anyone who oscnear. It develops into a very acerbic, horrifying piece of black comedy and every character plays it for pathos and unbelievable truth. The unbelievable truth being half the stories they tell as if it is factually making sense to everyone. This is the least unformed story of the entire set as a film it is too bloody believable asa possibility and puts every parent on warning for kidnapping in every moment of their lives. So they are in a car and lots of people are caught up in the same very narrow road and all wish to move on. How could a child disappear under this intensely claustrophobic set of conditions? Yes she does and into this come past histories, character unhinged fragility, tragedy, complacency, stereotyping and filmic cliches. The manhunt, the dark impenetrable woods, the pressure of time, the police stubborn static unhelpful authoritarian control, the jeopardy and wild imaginings. If it were not for the ordinariness of the main characters and the ease with which these actors seamlessly act together it would be set for critical mincing being a tale of child abduction in appearance. Yet it rises above the horror of the concept to keep you gripped to the end. So why no award? I left it aside as it was far too short and it weaved everything together in a short space of time without time to be excruciatingly terrifying. It missed a beat somehow and I’d have to see it again to explain that to myself again! Perhaps it was trying too hard to be just plain stupid and comedic? Perhaps it was too well shot? Perhaps it was answering your questions too swiftly. It is very cleverly engrossing and is as another aside a kind of everyman portrait. You know the type – where an everyman gets out of bed – something bad happens and his character shifts dramatically – for whatever reason this side is confronting and totally opposite to the earlier persona and can it change back etc.  Director/Writer Darach McGarrigle.  Duration 19:45


Prick
Overstretched fitness fanatic seen in go-pro enhanced camerawork is diabetic Tom. It overshadows his life as body confidence is blunted and sometimes he does not take his medication. Insulin pricks we learn quickly are a nightmare at times and the need for one in a young adult sportsman when competing for example, is our subject here. The director Adrian Rowe with fellow writer Emma Louise Dodds take a great deal of thought in assembling this narrative so as to 1. deliver a short effective insightful entertainment. 2. Be conveyors of health awareness and advice. You are not alone in other words as a young man whether you are a cyclist, rower, GAA player or netball, baseball player or any active young woman or man. A graph of the line of the sugar levels depletion is deployed aka The Survivalist opening frames come to mind! Another survivor but here in the real world of City life and girlfriend, relationships and the uncertainties of the future. It is great to see this kind of work as well executed as it is here and all perform to make it that reality. It is not a usual subject and it is not that complex with results, once the ‘reveal’ of the medical condition, this is not a spoiler as it is flagged up as being about a Diabetic! so it has a empathetic pull and it is exemplary without being brilliant on the levels of others reviewed here. Don’t take that to hard filmmakers because there is a lot of very strong work here!  Director Adrian Rowe Writers Adrian Rowe and Emma Louise Dodds.  Duration 13:58


When the seagulls…
The format of this short is a buddy type movie with a twist. All the more so given it involves basically one scene. It is of two men about late twenties who have come to this isolated beach (Norfolk is credited?) to despatch the remains of a friends ashes whose wish they are fulfilling. On the dunes we loook down to the pair, with an empty deck chair set on the rustling maram grass. Setting the scene they both stare out to sea and both become uncomfortable with this act which neither has done before. They converse with many reflections on themselves the person in the urn and even inform us quite accurately, well almost of what remains of remains and the person once cremated. So far so good. It is a whimsical and thoughtful script and process with the more confident of the two, after all he’s carrying the urn share the moment and a degree f gravitas is entered into. The story is well held and it gives you plenty to think about during this short period. Neither overlong nor short this tale has a twist which none will have anticipated.
Suffice then to conclude this is a very good short film of the type of real life narrative which seeks to be more than the contents, appearance of a short entertainment on observance. Observance is there of the two, of young men’s unfamiliar on the most part o loss and how to grieve. I takes it further by becoming a lesson well told and it becomes visual and the metaphors of the open expanses is singularly potent in becoming part of the confinement even for ‘him inside’ while introducing a heavy closure. There are several morality, finality tales with it seeming when the statistics of ourselves are shared, that that is what we are, just numbers. Another spoken one is that naivety is a greater sin than cynicism.
‘The Foggy Dew’ is played on a great soundtrack an the angelus bells provide the tome of sober paused reflection.
Having been to the cinematographic Norfolk coast on many’s occasion I never forget the vast openness of particularly the location of Blakeney Point where the very earth seems not to exist in any semblance of permanence, with tides and sands constantly exchanging their spoils. Eerily it becomes even more ethereal out at the point itself and the producers/director may have seen something of this location in their choice of exit.  Director/Writer Alasdair Killen.  Duration 13:30


The Cyclops
The double of graffiti and glue sniffing give Duncan fewer brain cells to think with and his relationship with his Mother is on a downward trail. It is attendant on the concerns of youngsters while delivering no new outlook or observance that I am aware of. While it has truth and consequences, such a trashed ‘flat’ – very lucky lad getting any kind of flat anyway on an Irish City – it hangs your interest on outcomes you know require redemption from within the family. I struggled with this as either exploiting a very serious section of life. As well asbeing described as a social realist film and taking on very well formed dreamlike/nightmarish effects interweaving them very well into the narrative ilacls thump kudos and delivery of a social ill dismissed. The teenagers have other interests besides these and no contrasts are exploited whether a short or not having the result I didn’t quite get it as a completed piece.  It may be that the director is not after a vision of reality and is playing with the themes.  Fair enough though talent such as this needs to assert its self fiercely to enter the broader wide long form which is obviously hanging in the air.  Director Hugh Mulhearn Duration 15:00


Six pack and crack
Black and white footage is employed with use alongside coloured flashback to provide the consisting local village shop life of an alcoholic mother Val and her estrangement from her 16 year old son Shane. She has used and is used in a relationship with a Russian whose delinquencies are greater. Joe, her partner has an entourage whose drug choices cover the bases. Shane the son would become a punchbag if he were to live at home. It doesn’t stop him from acting courageously to see his mother make other choices. Even so he has demons which make him wasted. The crystal meth environment of home comes with trading in drugs which accrues money which disappears. The money is put to use in the form of a resolution. It provided a great central role for Shane as he tied the content together while his mother portrayed in gripping, stark, tragic state was compelling. Unable to empathize with Joe the villain should not take away from the menace he projects and conquers any misgivings about the ensemble. It was a good film in many aspects and though it delivered twists and turns it was not my kind of thriller.  Director Rita-Marie Lawlor.  Duration 17:00


Time and again
For two fourteen year old boys the prospect of time travel is not confined to comic books. Two Brian’s appear.  The young and older versions.  The basic subject is very well trodden ground.  Given the chance would you go back and change a life changing event?  Would it be possible and these boys try to imagine it might.  Even a Stephen Hawking probably would have us take the position – the jury is out and the evidence is filtering through. The Eagle type comic is the subject of ones conjecture while the other is a more irritatingly science/professorial kind. The voice of Brian is adult as he narrates the older Mr Jones. Oisin at 14 is technologically secure and insecure. He has false perceptions and his name choice – Ossian being a favourite of 18th century Scottish poet James Macpherson who travelled further back to the poet Ossian of 3rd century ad is as close as I got to engaging with the entertainment yet irritation coming from the protoscientists. The retelling is poorly achieved from the other characters of Mum and Dad and the absence of a father while a good device to provide the impetus it is shallow in complex and does not work. The Tom figure is a type – the adult who says do us a favour son and don’t be havin’ nightmares – all cosy sort of, so it’s not a difficult challenging watch.  The type of safe short the BBC and other screeners favour.  Director/Writer Aiden Largy Duration 13:48

The Party
If ever there was a film to be had of a party in a back street in Belfast in 1972 as aconveyance was f showing sectarian hatred in the hands of violent men and women it’s not here. The utility of sanders and lerbstone paint also adding false notes. A UDA shooting in an area with rwb kerbs? A late bight party attended only by someone who had lost the plot and completely out of their head on drink morexprobably but not eyes wide open. It was a ridiculous and if harbours any nuances or side issues I did not see them. The cross dressing man on the run stupidity is a crude choice.  Given there were trans and LGBT in ’73 as ever, this is something left to perfect.  It may have conceivably got its supporters as an on edge of town bars/discos or The Harp Bar as harmless and indicative of a different paradigm was a good point while it never got anywhere close to a Neil Jordan type twist or visual foil. The interior shots if not the dials hue were good and period convincing.  The doorbell answered is also a conceited  stupidity.  So did anyone get shot for having a Party? Unionists, Nationalists, Socialists, Communists, Lecturers, Councillors, Reporters got shot and killed for having Party allegiances but for the other it didn’t make sense as the film failed in large doses. The triviality is not mine, it belongs four square with the films mediocrity. It doesn’t even make it as false history but ludicrous weak history poorly conceived.  Director Andrea Hardin. Writer Conor MacNeill. Duration 14:00

THE END OF THE FICTIONAL SHORT REVIEW.  MY WORDS AS A PLACEMENT OF OPINION HOVERING NEAR TRUTH HOPEFULLY.  Thank you for reading and if I’ve been too tough or critical on those who are responsible for the film content apologies as it’s meant only perversely (positive criticism) to encourage better and if that’s wrong too then I’ve failed to watch it more closely perhaps.

Non-Fiction Documentary Shorts Belfast Film Festival 2017
I have reviewed a few of the separated Documentary films shown a day after in a group with what I found weird results as far as awarding went as these two were in my view very worthy of winning as opposed to those who settled for ‘obvious’  cineworld reasons having missed the wealth elsewhere. Big time low.

The Wee Shop and Seán Hillen Merging views get my Joscar17 Short Doc award.
2 different and joint winners in my mind. Anything that can bring joy and laughter to a small film theatre in the heart of Belfast on a Sunny Sunday afternoon when the choice has been made not to join the promenade on the beach or car chase on the motorway to catch a barbecue or walk the park avoiding dogs is supremely deserving of any number of awards. In The Fashion Show caught a bright light in the world of Ruth Morrow trainee shepherdess and alter ego film Super Mario and Luigi gamer heros were a breathe of fresh air too. The sublimity – (solid to gas to solid again seems appropriate) – of the world of a rural community letting its worries pass into the afternoon sky temporarily was a lovely escape exquisitely creative and insightful. The surreality of the theme developed as a natural phenomenon and was a really enjoyable watch thoroughly well done by a burgeoning talent.


The Wee Shop

In Belfast the corner shop is a disappearing social staple. The Shop around the corner and later You’ve got mail by Nora Ephron are story films of the urban shop while in Belfast the Irving St John who belonged to a deaf family in Euston Street wrote the very funny play Boyd’s Shop which created a very portrait of the community focal point these places were on basically every road and inner city tributary. They even existed in the backstreets and their lights were on until near nine o’clock to provide for the essentials such as milk bread and sugar and non essentials such as cigarettes, lemonade and ice cream, the weekly pools coupon and a florid diet of gossip. The faltering entity is now a shadow of its former self as this short film makes a collection of a small number of stoical shopkeepers lament themselves about the struggle to remain true to the community corner shop provision they sustain on modest returns. Aside from the butchers and Chip shops and street cafes and fast food outlets they are seldom able to compete and this film is a tale which brings mostly dark humour out with the resolute frank telling of past times. Patsy on the New Lodge Road has plenty in common with her fellow shopkeepers Bill and Norman of Sandy Row and the Shankill respectively. The sorry demise of communities driven to the wall by successive governments undermining through lack of investment in all sectors of community life, the housing, schools, infrastructure, transport and a determination to structure destabilisation through housing allocation and lack of provision for families within communities is seen in these very shops which act as a last connection with the troubled communities they serve and served. By giving as one Shopkeeper explained with conspicuous accuracy, the bigger stores are allowed free access to a market through scale and mainly car accessible shopping by Belfast and surrounding Councils.  Monster supermarkets out of scale with communities and frequented by out of town bound custom heading to the dormitory habitations which provide identikit soulless housing on former farmland and undeveloped hinterlands of small villages. The film is a marker as were photographs of the same shops and former shopkeepers which provide another outlook and insight to the life of a passing community key.  Director  Siobhan King Duration 11:00


Seán Hillen, Merging views
This new short documentary portrait observes artist Seán Hillen as he creates a beautiful new photomontage. He shares thoughts about his work and recent personal discovery. The choice of making a work in the small studio of Seán Hillen is a tool adding emphasis to the incredibly interesting subject which is part of film making achievement; the detail the intensely focal frame.

The intensely imaginative world of Newry native, Séan Hillen in his present home of many years in Dublin is entered as if stepping into the imagination itself.  From the immediacy of an introduction to the dark outside and the loved fat bastard of a cat getting a food treat offered with profanity, a source of warm engagement and audience laughter enters the film theatre, as The Wee Shop did earlier, with its non stop mix of pathos and humour striking a chord here in Belfast.  It is a rare thing indeed to see an artist in a studio and while Warhol identified a niche to have photographers, artists, authors committed to coming to the factory and making their written and visual record of it, itself that became product. Like the late Basil Blackshaw who eschewed the rigmarole of publicity and never courted it Séan Hillen is similarly not keen on intrusiveness. When filmmakers of the aptitude and moxie of Paddy put it to you they want to make a piece about your work it’s a different matter altogether. The work too becomes an artwork. I was reminded of the groundbreaking film following Francis Bacon back from The Colony Rooms to his house and his immediately getting prepared to paint in the wee small hours of the night. Bacon took time to ignore the witness and get on with the work in his mind whereas there is an égalité, an openness, participation advanced here in this film, to welcome in the viewer to the processes of the artists role which attest to their inherent honesty.  A lot of art historians, curators, art critics, galleries do not get this work in its collective worth.  Some and hopefully fewer now, miss the continued trajectory from the Renaissance through to the prominent British artists, Mark Wallinger and Damien Hirst whose continued work excel propelling renewal of thought.

To carry out an explanation of how he works Séan gathers together an assembly of thoughts surrounding a new piece of work. In common with the photomontage works he has been making for nearly thirty years it is a leap into the unexpected each time it would seem and is as I perceived it a conduit of his mind extrapolating for us our own heralded metamorphic conjunctions on possible truths of previously upheld views. His explanation and it’s not given as a foundation but possible source of our connection with his work, is our brains priority in placing – seeing as believing – first ahead of further analytical deconstruction. The eye tells the mind to believe what it sees. Given the mind is relying on a chemical reaction which is fed though light onto chemicals transmitters and is a part of the brain itself we are in teleportation land. In the depths of the oceans we know of creatures that have no eyes. We are aware of the senses prioritising light and colour followed by sound smell taste and touch so reality exists to be broken down intuitively when we encounter only the two dimensional figurative statement of a photograph. Ireland has a complex narrative as does ever inhabitant of it.

Those in the past have questionable histories, so why not confront alternative functions for those times and perceptions, because memories lie and people do also.  Mythology is an art form in Ireland from the pipers lament handed down through millennia to our Newgrange polemic ancestory.  We have an Eros of harmony in our lives which is equated, set alongside, that ancient parallel Greek goddess of discord and the sister of Ares. To the turbulence of the universal rules and reliances we bring construct, more often than not based on simple untruths be it, democracy, loving, civilisation and fellow treatment of all living things. To this is the melee we have to call discord, identified with the Roman goddess Discordia. In Séan Hillen’s work – most notably Irelantis this discordance is highly prevalent. The discordance which Séan Hillen relates to and with in the film is his relatively recent knowledge of his having the Asperger’s condition which has performed a cathartic revalation for him to the extent previously unexplained attributes were held at arms length rather than their current state of becoming part of the reasoned dialogue.

To an artist this must be a great benefit as well as placing a perpetual commitment to the Aldous Huxley type of exploration at the doors of enlightenment. Huxley was taught by his father of the possibilities the mind could extend to.  The Prelude And Præterita of Aldous therefore were built in his DNA along with the affinities the mind constructs.   ‘Seeing’ here is the artwork progressing along those very lines.  Such was the source of the Huxley concepts of cosmic and social order to effect a transformation in Western thinking, a parallel must be held appropriate, in us advancing towards recognition of viewpoints we are yet unable to understand but have a belief they are of such magnitude as to affect our present existence in unknown ways, we are basically staking our whole existence past present and future on that construct being manifest.  Whether it is true – and these art works as well as many other artists works – tend to that possibility – that we are not yet able to see it – it is what allows us the freedom to make such conjectures.  Ireland, Eire has Greek connections to the word Peace the opposite of discord ironically.

There was a palpable stunned silence as the revelatory images became clear and that we were witness to a photomontage which proposed the absurd to not only to be a possibility but had certain other occurrences happened, they could not be dismissed as mere juxtapositions of intangible fluid thought and were reminders how we perceive things alive and active. Advertisements and the land of fictional representation, the apparel label logos, identity symbols and members of the semiotics of visual language. While many are on the parameters of fictional forces there are other ideas and imagery which are disablingly, perplexing and have an inherent, deeply embedded, truth telling ‘voice’, however ‘inconceivable’ they might appear. Our consciousness is at a place where we are incapable of dismissing them, as perceived certitudes divide us and make us what we are. In preparation for God it seems our goal is to seek out beauty in harmony with the universe.  This simple aim is difficult for the human as existence is made all the more confounding by the Bible quotation of God being sorry for making us this way… ‘failing’ you becoming ‘sorry’ in the KJB.

Director Paddy Cahill. Director of Photography Basil Al Rawi. Producer Tal Green.  Duration 10:00

The Irish Film Festa10 asked of Paddy Cahill 3 questions

Why did you choose to make a film about Seán Hillen?

I’ve been a long time admirer of Seán Hillen’s work but it was last year, as I visited him at his home to buy one of his prints as a present, that I knew I wanted to make the film. I wrote to Seán right after asking if I could make a short documentary about him and his work. Seán has an amazing backstory, which should be told in another documentary, but I was really fascinated by his home/studio where he creates his amazing work.
The film is set in a small room:

How did you work in terms of frame composition and editing?

When we filmed it was just myself and Basil Al Rawi, our director of photography, in the house with Seán. It was very important to me that we would be a tiny crew, although not much more would have fit in the room anyway! One rule I tried to keep was that Seán would only talk or answer questions while he was making work. That way it would be less like a traditional documentary interview. I thought that watching Seán work while he spoke would be more interesting to the viewer. This also gave Basil the freedom to get right up to Seán’s shoulder and compose some really beautiful cinematography.

And how long did the shooting take?

Along with producer Tal Green we were planning the filming for quite a while but the actual filming was over the course of one night only. I wanted the audience to have the same feeling we had when we filmed as if they just dropped in one night, to this unusual house on a normal looking terrace street in Dublin and got to watch Seán create one of his works.

More to follow on the Documentary submissions and the above two repeated.
John Graham

15 April 2017

Belfast

Life, Animated : A Film Review

Life,Animated


Director. Roger Ross Williams. Cast/’Featured’. ‘Owen Siskind, Walt Suskind, Cordelia Suskind, Ron Suskind’, Jonathan Freeman, Gilbert Gottfried, Ron Suskind. Genre: Documentary. English. Running Time: 1hr 29min. 

Documentary

This film is an extraordinary example of human willpower overcoming deficits within the human form. Deficits which cause it not to work in the way most of us anticipate and hope to carry forward.  Autism is a complex neurological disorder which has a very wide variance across the diagnostic spectrum.  Some elements of motor malfunctioning takes place with limbs and head being given to spasmodic movements.  At the age of three the portents showed in Owen Suskind was not like other children of his age. Parents Ron and Cordelia Suskind notice the change advancing swiftly taking their son prisoner.  They describe the onset with frank accuracy giving us account which the Oscar®-winning director Roger Ross Williams uses home movie footage to outline the passage of Owens disorder.  From then onward Williams uses illustration alongside conventional conversational interview and observation, inspired by the illustrated Ron Suskind book together with the beginnings of Disney Movie referencing.


Family hope.

Ron Suskind reveals a moment of discovery for him into Owens mind and how it worked. Previously playing and acting out characters from Disney movies they had watched had made no connection with him.  In a scene which also reveals Owens fathers determination and willpower on learning what they all confronted Ron breaks down a wall of the prison when an enlighted moment works out the Disney characters have a great deal more meaning than mere entertainment.  Astonishingly Ron becomes a transformed parent with some hope.  The downside is that the evaluation is circumspect in the conservative diagnosis of the specialist they work with.  It signals language understanding but no expression of connected meaning and linkage. The discovery of the language key that unlocks speech and the ability to converse is itself a wonderful moment and well explained in the film by Ron while it is illustrated by the flood of beautiful rolling animation.  I will leave you to discover how the journey begins. 


Owens world

Owen is in a world he knows by means other than ours. This awareness is a core issue. Nosce te ipsum, temet nosce (“thine own self know”) appears in The Matrix translated as “know thyself”.  Dad and son ignore the strictures of Medical niceties and begin a dialogue henceforth based on the most part by relating everything to Disney movies and more particularly the characters.  The reveal for us is how it works.  Owen is introduced to us early on at his ‘present’ age of 23.  We then meet elder brother Walt who is a grounded individual full of empathy and common sense and a great friend and foil for Owen to relate to literally.


Owens story

From the beginning of this film we enter the agonising world of evaluation confronting the family. Conceptual thinking is confined to Owen describing bad times as glop.  He taught himself to read through the films.  Films do not have subtitles so how!  Every encounter in his early years is fraught with strangeness and after two phases of schooling one of which rejects him because they do not have the skills to cope and his piers in learning difficulties themselves are leaving Owen behind.  Even so this is devastating and these episodes because the belong to the past are where director Roger Ross Williams works with the book illustrations animating them with full frame pictures of Owen as a young boy bewildered and looking over his shoulder.  Developmentally though Owen is using his own imaginary tools – films – observing his family and their emotional drivers to produce a world of absolutes.  Certainty is found in The Lion King, Peter Pan, The Jungle Book, Bambi, Aladdin, Dumbo, Beauty and the Beast with brilliant accurate reading of each characters roll.  Ron and Owen could run masterclasses on Disney movies and this in fact is what – at the age of 23 – Owen does at the learning facility by starting a Disney Club and becoming not only a Disney lecturer but to teach his fellow students how to read the stories or rather bring out of them the meanings they are aware of to recognize their connection with the real world. Pitfalls and all.  The journey is not easy and darkly intimidating for the mixed ability classroom.


The Disney Emotional lexicon.

While he has become an expert, acquiring a collection of VHS of hundreds of Disney films and recorders and remote controls manipulated like Darth Vader, rewinding after rewind over parts of films he notes as stimulating. Captain Hook is a favourite, he is in all other ways a normal guy.  When it came to reading expressions and mannerisms he finds it hard and likewise it requires a lot of attention to see how Owens behaviour has its nuances.  In lots of autostic folk there is a tendency to stoop forward and look at the ground while walking – Owen and his therapist note this and also discuss Awareness while being outside.  Of where to cross a road and paying attention.  I found watching Owens expressions when he was in a ‘autistic’ moment, one in which he was calculating or trying to work out a thing his right eye would be partially closed while his left eye would be open wider than would be ‘normal’.  When Owen was firing on all cylinders and telling a story – a lecture features – his eyes are as would be expected normally.  Alert and evenly open.  

The simple but precisely how it works as a film, approach by Roger Ross Williams is the brainwave, excusing all those parallel aspects, is to use the very thing which Owen and perhaps other children, teenagers, adults, can utilise – it is seen in the film as having similar effect on other pupils – the Animation in the film of his own construction including a very highly Disney inspired story, from the beginning, narrating the growth and life perils Owen encounters and how it moves on.  Itfeatures in the middle of the film and has the makings of something much bigger.  Get to it Disney!

Autism is so complex

This I think relates to the cerebral cortex which has the left side of the brain working with communication skills, words, speaking, memory and vocabulary, developing complex thought to communicate (it also controls the opposite hemispheres eyes, facial features – the right eye for example) while the right side of the brain deals with spatial awareness, three dimensions and creative things which are worked on internally before being shifted into models of use – i.e. Writing, drawing, expressing through hands, sculpting, manouevering trough the outside space.  The left eye in Owen is showing this I believe.  When a thing is seen clearly in space and tangible.  He also expresses this with his hands, his left eye opens wider controlled by the right side of the brain. When at the same time the way to vocalise this is problematic he shuts his right eye slightly while processing the thing in question.  This obviously is a feature crudely observed but along with other things such as hearing and loud noises other senses are involved. I recall a young mother recently whose daughter suffers along these lines, in a shop when the fire alarm went of the young girl became intensely worried and after a few minutes was clinging to her mother.  Once the alarm stopped her mother had to calm her and introduced a diversion for her daughter.  She said “We need 6 large eggs, now where shall we find the eggs?” Another, “Which cereal shall we get this week, I don’t know which, would you like to choose one for us?”  After twenty minutes or so this ‘work’ was over and the daughter copied her Mum by putting the items on the conveyor at the checkout and joining the queue.  It was a clear and very direct example of how autism affects so many children whose learning is different to the rest.  


Left handed folk. (Owen is right handed so spoils my argument to follow straight away, but bear with me!)

From a little knowledge of (being a left hander) how left and right basis works, I have been told during the pre-birth period if a trauma happens the developmental process is adjusted while the right side functions that are developing cannot continue for a time, the left side of the infant brain processes these ‘right’ side normality in the left hemisphere until normal service is resumed!  It sounds logical enough and I wonder how it occurs and whether it would be amplified in step with the presenting life problems.  A death in the family, an emotional trauma for the mother, a change of circumstances health or otherwise, an accident – falling, breaking something?  There is bound to be a pivotal point where this is manifested.  In recent readings I have become aware of the discoveries in psychology on how malignant aggression may be disposed through a trauma enteringthe world at the point of childbirth, difficulties at the time of birth.  There is also discoveries prenatally in Basic Perinatal Matrices (BPMs) where indications of traumatic ‘histories’ inform life itself and behavioural tendencies.  We are only at the edges of discovery presently.

Where to now

As a family the Suskinds are aware of their own life span and of Walt who is a huge part of the film though Cordelia and Ron are in the frontline daily, has his own life prospects to consider alongside his love and caring for Owen however things may move on.  In the film we have met his Disney Masterclass mates, even a few ‘stars’ of the films and we see the emotional, juvenile rite of passage which Walt has some dilemmas in drawing out, with one of Owens classmates becoming his girlfriend over three years.  Emily is in the same school and plans are progressed for Owen to move out as a matter of course from the family home to a Life assisted living residential home where he will have his own apartment, his own condo and Emily can move along with him to an adjacent condo of her own. 

There is a website set up by Ron Suskind called Welcome to Life, Animated. As follows – lifeanimated.net

Our son Owen, like so many with autism, has an ‘affinity’ — in his case, a deep connection to the Disney movies he’s watched countless times to make sense of an often-bewildering world.

When we first shared Owen’s story, we thought he was one in a million. But the wave of responses we received showed us that Owen was really one among millions. We learned about autistic men, women, boys, and girls all over the world with affinities from movies to maps.

Conclusion ####4

While recent trends in documentary making are used, integrating forms of drama and illustration in ‘sequence’ played out as if the ‘action’ is unrehearsed and legitimate observation – here there are several incidents of ‘happenstance’ when Owen is observed as a link looking at the very same ‘pointer/reveal’ in the Disney contenr and it flows on.  This is moderately irritating but in fairness to deliver in a short time frame – this is a movie after all – the storytelling has to move swiftly to get to the next important thing.  The important thing being to inform us and empathise with the whole situation.  The system of healthcare, the specialists at times floundering on the edge of experience- after all Owen is himself a pioneer and brings plenty by his energy and perseverance – to the need to be in a calm place and his parents moving out to Cape Cod and a beach existence which would soothe anyone – from New York work commitments foe Ron who is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist.  It reveals our own perspectives are lax and the learning is here so well delivered we become advocates or perhaps shall share the knowledge going forward.  As a documentary it is of the highest quality given the ‘disclaimer’ I make immediately above and it is also a work which all involved – Disney published the book on which it is based but did not get involved in any editing, selection of the Disney catalogue and their sister company Pixar films. Owen has possibly memorized the entire catalogue and could make it as an advocate for more animation which is a Law onto itself in many respects.  It is the diet of so many young folk and expands.  I flag up the industrious and talented British creator of an entire series, Mr Moon, Kate Veale whose success for Disney Playtime is huge.  Mr Moon, created by Kate Veale, from Anglesey, will debut on the Disney channel this summer. The series is a collaboration between art director Ms Veale and animators in Singapore, London and Canada. She was inspired to create Mr Moon one evening in her back garden but it took 10 years for her to realise her screen dream. The series centres around Mr Moon, who looks after the night time sky with his best friend Silva Star, while Sunny takes care of the daytime. That was in 2000 and it is a cult children’s series now!

Get to it Owen – give us a seminar on the world of Mr Moon and outer space.  There is no Dark side of the Moon, matter of fact it’s all dark.
John Graham

8 December 2016

Belfast

Wonderful inspiring Documentary insightful vision of Autism on at Queens Film Theatre from this Friday 9 December up to and including Thursday 15 December 2016 and on VOD and general release.