Having received its world premiere at the London Film Festival, B For Boy is the first full-length feature of Chika Anadu, a director intent on bringing to light the discriminations faced by females in contemporary Nigeria. B For Boy is the exploration of a woman’s desperate attempt for a male child; in Nigeria, society is still majorly patriarchal and only males are eligible for the status of heir. As Anadu uncovers, there is no such thing as an heiress with a brother in Nigeria, a shocking truth to expose to a predominantly western audience. Enlightening and equally shocking, B For Boy is a commendable filmic debut that illuminates the horrifying lengths that a woman would go to ensure the sex of her next born, as well as the damage inflicted upon the female population as the result of patriarchy.
Author Zoe De Pasquale
Helmed by a relatively unknown Adam Wimpenny, Blackwood received its world premiere at the London Film Festival 2013 as part of the ‘cult’ collection of films also screening at the festival. Described as “reinventing the English ghost story” by the British Film Institute, Blackwood is a minimalistic British thriller nuanced with the chilling presence of an old-fashioned horror picture. Despite the absence of any deviation from the regular formula, the film still amounts to more than a pile of cheap scares through thoughtful storytelling and impressive cinematography despite a somewhat flawed script.
Hide Your Smiling Faces is the surprising debut from Daniel Patrick Carbone, whose only other directorial and scriptural credit is for the 2008 short, Feral. Nonetheless, Carbone’s lack of experience behind the camera doesn’t hinder him in his first full-length feature, crafting a beautifully rustic and thoughtful coming-of-age indie piece. Comparable to Rob Reiner’s Stand By Me, the film addresses the issues of growing up in the modern age without the obligatory inclusion of social media and technology. In fact, the world that Carbone has created is devoid of such materialistic obsession creating a film unhindered by Hollywood modernization. He essentially goes back to basics in Hide Your Smiling Faces to create a film as raw and minimalist as the sensitive subject matter at hand.
Watching Kill Your Darlings, one may never know that it’s the feature-length debut of John Krokidas, who directs with such a sense of confidence and personal style that it’s easy to assume he’s an experienced dab-hand. Following in the footsteps of 2010’s Howl, Kill Your Darlings is yet another film that focuses on the infamous Beat movement, but this time with a youthful twist. Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Elizabeth Olsen and the up-and-coming Dane DeHaan, Kill Your Darlings is a solid entry into the film industry that’s entertaining for the moment but instantly forgettable as soon as the curtain comes down.
Marking Jonathan Glazer’s return to the camera nine years after his last feature, Birth (2004), Under The Skin is the triumphant return of an admired and innovative filmmaker. Garnering critical attention from across the globe, responses range from enthusiastic praise for Glazer to utter abhorrence. The film is certainly a divider of sorts; audiences love it or hate it, there are no half measures. The leading actress has also contributed to the film’s persistent spotlight; Scarlett Johansson, known for her mediocre mainstream portrayals (Avengers Assemble, We Bought A Zoo) as well as personal controversies has struck gold in Under The Skin. In what is clearly a match made in heaven between Glazer and Johansson, the previously unexceptional actress has firmly established her dramatic capabilities; her sultry, inhumanly sinister performance is undoubtedly the landmark of her career.
A contender for the London Film Festival’s First Feature Competition, Sixteen is the striking full-length debut of Rob Brown, an award-winning writer and director whose short films have garnered him critical acclaim nationwide. A British urban thriller, Sixteen is the grisly tale of a child soldier from the Congo struggling to adjust to life as a typical teenager in England when, in the days preceding his sixteenth birthday, he is witness to a brutal stabbing that threatens to compromise the security of his newfound life. Poignant, powerful and vexing, Sixteen addresses the very real and challenging predicament faced by child soldiers removed from their country of origin and the difficulties that accompany the prospect of adapting to an unfamiliar lifestyle.
In its short run of appearing on the big screen, Of Good Report has left controversy and debate in its wake, even being temporarily banned from showing at the Durban International Film Festival due to its explicit content, chiefly what the classification board deemed as ‘child pornography’. The film is, in the words of its director Jahmil X.T Qubeka, a “serial killer origins story about how a social misfit turns into an inadequate man hell-bent on satisfying his shameful lust”. The film follows the unsettling and traumatic life of teacher Parker Sithole and his illicit affair with a student that spirals into tragedy. Qubeka’s Of Good Report is a darkly satirical, daring and disturbing take on the serial killer origins genre, as well as an artistically crafted South African homage to film noir.
From documentary filmmaker Hind Meddeb, Electro Chaabi is the exploration of the Egyptian slums and the new craze that seems to be taking over: electronic chaabi music. Featuring interviews with the DJs and footage of the raving nightlife in the underworld of the slums and the effect chaabi music has on the people, Electro Chaabi is an endeavour into a civilization rocked by the revolution. Despite its quest to uncover the journey to freedom, the documentary features almost no women. This is surprising to say the least, especially as the filmmaker is herself female. Repeatedly, the DJs and musical creators talk about offering a ‘breath of freedom to Egypt’s youths’ whilst simultaneously ignoring 50% of the population. Despite its noble intentions, Electro Chaabi is somewhat contradictory of itself at heart.
Afternoon Delight has had a fairly successful run of festival appearances, premiering at the Sundance Film Festival and even landing director Jill Soloway with the Dramatic Directing Award win and Grand Jury Prize nomination. Featuring comedienne Kathryn Hahn in her first major starring role opposite Josh Radnor and Juno Temple, Afternoon Delight is nothing short of an indie sex comedy that’s rarely delightful and occasionally impressive. Showcasing Hahn’s ostensible talent in a long-overdue leading role, the film doesn’t fail through its performances; Juno Temple is the ultimate show-stealer in Afternoon Delight. The script simply doesn’t live up to the performances to which it is awarded, plagued by clichés and predictable deus ex machinas that leave the viewer immensely dissatisfied. Furthermore, the maladroit direction adds a discerning level of confusion to the film; it explores the heavy themes of prostitution, sexual tension and marital turmoil, jumping genre inappropriately from serious drama to comedy. The vacillating execution fails to provide the backset for the incredible cast to shine and ultimately is the film’s biggest letdown.
A notice warning all viewers that motion sickness and seasickness are likely to result in the watching of this film should perhaps precede All Is Lost, a film as fine a cast away movie as Cast Away itself. Featuring Robert Redford in the only starring role, All Is Lost is a daring voyage into the ever-growing realm of films that rely on a solitary character to carry the story. Possibly a recipe for disaster, the film is maintained by a captivating performance from Redford and the authenticity of such a dire situation brought to life by clever cinematography, set pieces and special effects.