Dates: 3rd – 5th February 2017
Welcome to the Second Fleapit UK Independent Film Festival, and a unique opportunity to catch up with a diverse selection of films that slipped through the distribution net.
We are keeping to our restrictive definition of British Independent film, requiring all selected films to have been financed without the assistance of major studios and/or institutional funders, including relatively small players (compared to Hollywood) such as the BBC and Film4 – vital though their contribution to British filmmaking obviously is.
Of course, few, if any, of the filmmakers we are featuring would turn down such funding and the opportunities it would provide – that would be daft – but the distribution and funding lottery (not to be confused with Lottery Funding) means excellent films are denied an audience. Even the Best British Independent Film Awards happily include generously, and corporately, funded films – recent nominations and winners include: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel; Philomena; The Selfish Giant; Pride; Mr. Turner; The Imitation Game; Ex Machina and I, Daniel Blake. Excellent films, some of which may well feature in future seasons, but while they retain an independent spirit, how many of these would you define as ‘independent’? And so this Festival’s purpose doggedly remains a celebration of great films most filmgoers have had no chance to see.
All tickets for the Festival can be booked through Ticket Source – Click on ‘FESTIVAL BOOKING’ in the navigation bar and you will be taken to the Ticket Source booking page. You can also book in person at any of our regular Friday screenings – sorry, this service is not available at Sunday Matinées.
Members: All films: £5.00 per film.
Please note: So we can keep track of numbers, members MUST still book their tickets.
Non-Members: £5.00 per film
On The Door: Check the website on this page for availability – an update will be posted the week before the festival. To avoid disappointment, we do suggest you book early.
Screening times are 2:00pm, 5:00pm and 8:00pm with doors opening half an hour before. With such a concentrated programme we have arranged for the Front Meeting Room of the Westerham Hall to become the Fleapit Film Café for the weekend where hot and cold snacks, teas and coffees will be available to sustain you between films and fuel discussion. The Fleapit bar will, of course, remain open throughout the weekend.
Adult Life Skills
“Witty and moving, this is a low-budget Brit triumph that marks its director as a talent to watch.”
Jonathan Pile, Empire
Friday February 3rd
7:30pm for 8:00pm
2016 / UK / 96 min. / Colour
Director: Rachel Tunnard
Starring: Jodie Whittaker, Ozzy Myers, Brett Goldstein, Alice Lowe, Lorraine Ashbourne, Eileen Davies, Edward Hogg and Rachael Deering
We open the Festival with one of 2016’s best British comedies – indie or mainstream. The world was first introduced to 29-year-old Anna (Whittaker) in the the 2014 BAFTA nominated short, Emotional Fusebox. So positive was the response that Writer and Director, Rachel Tunnard, was encouraged to expand Anna’s story…
Anna is a week away from her 30th birthday. A birthday that, unless things change, will see her still single; still living in her mother’s garden shed where she makes thumb-puppet films and still wondering why the suffragettes ever bothered. Given that whether Yogi Bear is a moral or existential nihilist is a typical theme of her cinematic endeavours, it is perhaps just as well Anna makes them solely for herself.
But her Mother has had enough and serves an ultimatum: get out of the shed; get a haircut that doesn’t confuse her gender and stop dressing like a homeless teenager. The battle lines are drawn and the outcome determined by the appearance of Anna’s old school friend, the young boy next door obsessed with Westerns and an Estate Agent who would seduce her if he didn’t have the adult life skills of an especially gauche brick…
As one reviewer noted, this laugh-out-loud funny, bitter-sweet comedy has: “the same themes as Rocky. But with thumbs. And a 8 year-old cowboy. And no boxing.”
Short Film Symposium
Saturday February 4th
10:30pm to 1:00pm
Please Note: The Symposium features titles reflecting the breadth of modern UK short films. Some of these, therefore, have strong adult themes that may not be enjoyed by all and may also be considered inappropriate for younger filmgoers.*
The short film plays a vital role in UK Independent Cinema. The format has two obvious attractions – a short film can be produced for less or allow for more to be spent per minute, to the benefit of production values. And it would be an insult to short films to dismiss them as lesser alternatives to main features, cheap in cost and content. The discipline of telling a complete and compelling story in less time than it takes Hollywood to get through the opening credits is a true art and gives no slack to the writer, director or, indeed, the actors. We are therefore delighted that the festival is doing its bit to support our short film industry. The symposium will be led by local award winning filmmaker, Jane Sanger, who has years of practical experience behind her, including sitting on film festival juries. Her insider knowledge will enlighten budding filmmakers and fascinate the interested cinemagoer alike. The Symposium will be built around the screening of six independent UK live-action shorts that, between them, demonstrate the breadth and quality of our talent pool. Two of the filmmakers will be joining Jane to answer questions and help explain the financial and logistical dynamics of the industry. It represents a unique opportunity to see filmmaking from the inside and, as part of the Fleapit’s commitment to supporting UK independent cinema, admission to the Symposium is free. Just come along and enjoy. NB: What constitutes ‘short’? There is no universal definition so we have decided upon upto 20 minutes. It’s acknowledged by many filmmakers and harks back to the original one-realer.
The featured shorts are:
EMOTIONAL FUSEBOX (15mins) Writer/Director: Rachel Tunnard; Cast: Jodie Whittaker, Lorraine Ashbourne, Rachael Deering Anna lives in her Mum’s garden shed making videos with her thumbs. Her Mum wants her to come out but Anna doesn’t want to. On the back of the success of this short film Rachel Tunnard went on to develop Adult Life Skills, the feature that opens our Festival.
PREY FOR ME (17mins) * Director: David Spring; Writer: Craig Murphy; Cast: Tommie Grabiec, Neil Hobbs, Alex Forward A ruthless mercenary is set against a defenceless human target. As their confrontation intensifies, dark secrets from their pasts emerge, and the line between good and evil becomes indistinct.
RED HANDED (7½mins) Director: Edward Andrews; Writer: Brook Driver; Cast: Rob Tofield, Todd Von Joel, Sean Cronin, Johnny Vivash A dark comedy about an unfit, self-conscious jogger who stumbles across a dead body deep in the woods…
SOLDIER BEE (20mins) * Director: Alex Hardy; Writers: Alex Hardy & Elizabeth Mason; Cast: Shauna Macdonald, George Newton, Jamie Laird Cpt. Jodie Baxter returns home from Afghanistan after being injured in a rigged booby trap that has left her scarred both physically and psychologically and struggling to reconnect with her husband…
TACITURN (17mins) Director: Andrie Koscina; Writer: Ellie Bindman; Cast: Jan Baker, Ellie Bindman, Roz Brierley Molly, a 15-year-old girl with a lot of pressures going on in her life finds it hard to fit in so she will question the family values and friendship.
VISITORS (9½mins) Writer/Director: Jane Sanger; Cast: Mark Rose, Mazviona Madzima, Davina Cole, Abraham Popoola, Melissa Sanger Ugandan orphan, Adina, is under threat from the LRA, an outlawed resistance army who snatch girls for their harem and boys for their army. She escapes to the UK, but will her life be any better…
“Why can’t all British crime dramas be so well written and well acted, and have a splash of comedy as confident as this?”
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
Saturday February 4th
1:30pm for 2:00pm
2011 / UK / 97 min. / Colour
Director: Dexter Fletcher
Charlie Creed-Miles, Will Poulter, Liz White, Sammy Williams, Charlotte Spencer, Leo Gregory, Neil Maskell, Iwan Rheon, Jason Flemyng, Jaime Winstone, Olivia Williams and Andy Serkis
After 8 years in prison, Bill Hayward is on parole. Back home, he finds his 11- and 15-year-old sons abandoned by their mother and fending for themselves. Lacking all feelings paternal, Bill is determined to move on but social services are on the case and the boys face being taken into care. So Dean, the older son, blackmails his father to stay for a week by threatening to report his drug dealing. Bill relents and finds himself bonding with his younger son, Jimmy. But when Jimmy falls foul of his father’s old associates, Bill has a choice: does he become a good father or stay a a free man…
Indie Cinema has long been the home of social realism, gritty explorations of urban decay and disaffection. Nothing wrong in that but there is always the danger of over-zealous heavy handedness – gritty can so easily become just rammed-down-your-throat grim. Especially if you’re not Mike Leigh.
Wild Bill is a notable exception, all the more remarkable as it marks actor Dexter Fletcher’s confident debut as both a writer and director. It’s lack of sentimentality (always a good start), the engaging, sporadic but seamless addition of natural – and truly funny – comedy and some inspired cinematography set it apart. As an actor, Fletcher worked with a raft of great directors from whom, evidently, he learned a great deal.
My Feral Heart
“A beautifully realised, understated character study bolstered by strong performances, distinctive cinematography and a deeply evocative score.”
Edinburgh International Film Festival programme
Saturday February 4th
4:30pm for 5:00pm
2016 / UK / 83 min. / Colour
Director: Jane Gull
Steven Brandon, Shana Swash, Will Rastall, Pixie Le Knot, Eileen Pollock and Suzanna Hamilton.
After the sudden loss of his mother, Luke, a fiercely independent young man with Down’s syndrome, is moved to a rural care home in Essex, where he struggles to settle. Despite the best efforts of Eve, his feisty, warm and streetwise carer, it’s with Pete, a troubled Hunt Saboteur completing Community Service by working in the home’s garden, that Luke begins to find purpose as he continues to overcome his grief. The film then turns on a chance meeting when Pete accompanies Luke on a unsanctioned walk into the countryside and Luke stumbles on a feral girl injured by a fox trap. He takes her to a nearby barn and nurses her back to health. Who, or what, she is, subtly takes the film into the realms of fairy tale or even magic realism though, for Luke, it’s just the next step towards fulfillment…
There was a time when Hollywood A-listers were queuing up to play the disabled and the terminally ill – guaranteed critical acclaim and a shoe-in for an Oscar. Fortunately, things are changing. Brandon got the part in this film because, judged by any standard, he is a stunningly good actor. That he has Down’s is, really, incidental. And don’t fall into the trap of patronising him. He’s as much an actor as any other leading player in the Festival and his portrayal of Luke is just that – a portrayal. But it’s not just about him – there are excellent ensemble performances and shimmering cinematography to enjoy as well. And, of course, fans of Endeavour, Morse and Lewis will appreciate Barrington Pheloung’s enigmatic score.
“The most consistently hilarious Brit-com for a good half-decade, Sightseers cements Wheatley’s reputation among his generation’s smartest and edgiest filmmakers. A pitch-black and sometimes gorily violent laugh-riot…”
Neil Young, The Hollywood Reporter
Saturday February 4th
7:30pm for 8:00pm
2012 / UK / 85 min. / Colour
Director: Ben Wheatley
Jenny Borgars, Katherine Butler, Claire Jones, Matthew Justice, Nira Park, Danny Perkins and Andrew Starke
Aspiring writer Chris likes nothing better than caravanning and sets off with his girlfriend Tina, much to the annoyance of of Tina’s mother who has never forgiven Tina for the death of their dog Poppy, killed in a bizarre knitting accident. They stop at a tramway museum where Chris confronts a litterbug who refuses to pick up his rubbish and subsequently runs him over. This is the first of many underwhelming visitor attractions, and the first of many murders…
Many films are described as black comedies, most of which are neither particularly black nor especially funny. Sightseers is both. The murders may be portrayed with cartoon wit and style and, yes, a few extra pints of the red stuff, but they still shock, though without recourse to the voyeuristic sadism of modern horror. And as for the humour – Tina’sfirst postcard to her mother sets the tone:
I’m not coming home. Yorkshire is lovely. Not like you said at all. They can smile and they do sell my pasta sauce. The caravan bed is quite short, but Chris is a sensitive lover. Hope you can be happy for me.
And, besides, looking into in their bucolic, off-kilter, self-absorbed world, we happily acknowledge that, all the victims, frankly, deserve to die. As Philip French observed in The Observer: “Tina’s frighteningly hilarious response to discovering her boyfriend has become a psychopath is to join in, thus creating a folie a deux fueled by an anomic evil, the moral equivalent of the banality featured in the bizarre tourist attractions they visit such as the National Tramway Museum in Crich and the Keswick Pencil Museum. The movie mocks the sterile horror of the heritage industry, the hideous campsites the couple stop at and the blight they inflict on the beauty of the English landscape. The comic death trip Tina and Chris make thus becomes a lament for a lost Britain as cold and withering as anything Alan Bennett has given us, and weirdly moving.”
“Anchored by a stellar central performance, a sensitive script and a surplus of heart, this resonant and life affirming film is a tonic for the soul…deeply moving and richly rewarding.”
Jim Mitchell, Empire Magazine
Sunday February 5th
1:30pm for 2:00pm
2013 / 92 min. / Colour
Director: Uberto Pasolini
Eddie Marsan, Joanne Froggatt, Karen Drury & Andrew Buchan
John May is a lonely and low-ranking council worker who, for the last 20 years, has returned from his neat and tidy office to his neat and tidy home for a neat and tidy supper – canned fish on toast being a favourite. But it is no ordinary life for the names of the deceased with no friends or family to mourn them at their funeral pass across his desk. And he has made it his life’s work to ensure they are properly remembered, even if it means breaking into their homes to research their life for the priest’s eulogy…
Still Life may appear innocuous at the start but it develops into a truly uplifting and remarkable work. Eddie Marsan (surely our most under-valued leading man) is sublime; the excellent script punctuated with witty jokes both verbal and visual and Rachel Portman’s score holds things together with style. Pasolini’s assured, unobtrusive, miss-nothing direction also delivers that rare thing – a beautifully surprising and satisfying ending.
Given that we are so particular when it comes to what is and isn’t a British independent film, you are forgiven for asking why we have chosen one written and directed by an Italian. Well, he wrote the script in English, directed the film in England and financed it with pounds rather than Euros. And that’s British enough for us, especially as he also produced The Full Monty. Incidentally, he is not related to the Pasolini but is related to Visconti.
Papadopoulos & Sons
“It’s a throwback, but relaxed, sweet and funny with it: a first feature that makes an impression by not pushing too hard to make an impression.”
Mike McCahill, The Guardian
Sunday February 5th
4:30pm for 5:00pm
2013 / UK & IRL / 105 min. / Colour
Director: Marcus Markou
Stephen Dillane, Georges Corraface, Ed Stoppard, Georgia Groome, Frank Dillane, Selina Cadell and Cosima Shaw
We close the Festival with a British comedy-drama that typifies the lost opportunities bedeviling British Indie cinema. This engaging story, skillfully told and beautifully acted, captivated its limited initial audience and garnered widespread critical acclaim but, even so, no major cinema chain picked it up. And, remember, this is no 90-minute slice of art house self-indulgence. It’s pure mainstream entertainment emboldened by a narrative heart that makes it as substantial as it is enjoyable yet no cinema goer who only ever goes to a multiplex has had the opportunity of seeing it. And hundreds and thousands have therefore missed out on a treat – as good an old-school comedy drama as you could hope to see.
Greek immigrant Harry Papadopoulos has it all: a fabulous mansion, awards and the money that comes from owning a hugely successful business. But then the banking crisis hits and Harry loses everything – taking his family with him. Everything, that is, save for the long forgotten Three Brothers Fish & Chip Shop, half-owned by his larger-than-life – and estranged – brother, Spiros.
Harry and his family have no choice but to join Uncle Spiros and move in above the neglected chippie. Together they set about reopening the chip shop, watched by their longstanding rival, Hassan, owner of a neighbouring kebab shop and a son with eyes for Harry’s daughter, Katie…