Yesterday I attended the 5th BFI Future Film Festival at the BFI Southbank, an event which aims to showcase young and talented filmmakers, as well as providing under-25s who want to get a foot in the industry with advice and knowledge from industry experts.
Since my interest lies in primarily in documentary film, I was interested to go along to the Sunday event, which included the screening of films which had made the shortlist for the ‘Future Film Awards – Documentary short films’, as well as a ‘Film Critic Masterclass with Little White Lies’ (the super-trendy British independent movie magazine) and then a blogging workshop with the founder of popular movie blog, Permanent Plastic Helmet.
The day started early with the Documentary short film awards from 11am. Though I usually focus on reviewing feature length documentaries and films, I really enjoy short films and was very interested to see what young British filmmakers were creating. Short films don’t often get a lot of publicity, but they really are a fantastic medium, especially for telling personal life stories, which are often highly compelling or emotional, but cant stretch to a more than 45minute time slot.
The highlight of the awards (and of the whole day) had to be the film ‘Lasting Rights‘ by Jon Gordon and Niko Alajoki, which deals with the issue of assisted dying or assisted suicide. Through a candid and highly emotional interview with a woman who had to deal with the heartache of seeing her elderly mother die slowly in hospital, as well as a healthcare specialist and a charity worker campaigning for the rights of the terminally ill, the film lays out the case for and against the controversial subject of assisted suicide.
‘Lasting Rights’ touched a personal note with me, having seen my own mother go through the same thing as the woman in the film. When my grandmother had a stroke in 2010, she was taken to hospital where her life was saved. Instead of dying in her bed, she was taken to hospital where modern medicine helped keep her alive. Though many would see this as a good thing, in my grandmother’s case, hospitalisation only kept her at the edge of life and two months of limited care in an NHS facility was just not sufficient. All this time, my mother travelled from London to Bexhill (where my grandmother was situated) three times a week- causing yet more physical and emotional distress into the equation. Eventually, after my grandmother was finally deemed stable enough to return to the nursing wing of her care home, she passed away.
Watching ‘Lasting Rights’ brought back all the memories of those terrible few months and seeing that the film’s subject had gone though exactly the same thing as my own mother was deeply upsetting. However, the cinematic nature of the filming, and the sensitivity with which the subject matter was handled ensured that it was not an entirely depressing story. In my opinion, it was a beautiful presentation of the personal reasons for assisted suicide.
I was so impressed with the film, please have a watch of the trailer, I’m not sure how you can get a hold of the full-length version, I suggest tweeting the Director of Photography, Niko, if you are interested in the film.
The rest of the day was far less emotional, particularly the dry and down-right dull ‘Masterclass’ with the boys from Little White Lies. Talk about a snore-fest, very disappointing, I wish I’d spent my time at the Documentary Pitching workshop instead. Sigh. The blogging workshop was a much greater success, however. A big thanks to Ash Clark from Permanent Plastic Helmet for his advice and knowledge-sharing!
Overall it was an interesting day, if you are looking for gaining experience and skills within the film industry, I recommend you pop along to the 6th Future Film Festival next year.