‘The Rocket’ was my favourite film of the London Film Festival this year.

The Rocket

The Rocket

It is a tender story of a struggle to achieve your potential for a better life when all odds are against you. We see a family torn apart by superstition and helpless against state authority.
Displaced from their roots by the building of a damn whose vast brick edifice echoes the unfeeling power of the company men involved, the local people are treated like trees to be cleared from the forest, cut from their roots.

The Rocket

The Rocket

Promised paradise they are given infertile soil and poverty. Filmed in Laos with 20 government officials on set at any one time it is amazing that this film has been made.
The logistics and years of building trust and relationships have been worth the delicate negotiations involved. The director Kim Mordaunt and producer Sylvia Wilczynski needed to be sensitive to the politics and so were unable to be overtly critical and not allowed to film any scenes of conflict. Explosions (and there are many) often had to be filmed in Thailand and edited in later.
This is a film about the harsh beliefs of tradition versus the harsh reality of modernity.  It shows the failure of trying to transplant a community.
The incredible natural performances of the two lead children who were only 8 and 10 at the time make this film a treasure as well as a tribute to self belief despite constant undermining and disaster.

The Rocket

The Rocket

The beautiful landscape of Laos is still littered with unexploded bombs and grenades designed to look like fruit.

Another film at the festival where the protagonist breaks from mundane reality to follow his dreams was ‘Sniffer’.

Sniffer

Anwar Ka Ajab Kissa

Disillusioned by the squalid dealings of humanity he witnesses through of his work as sleuth he gradually enters a surreal world where love is pure and true.

Sniffer

Anwar Ka Ajab Kissa

As the director Buddhadeb Dasgupta explained  ‘Without magic, without dreams we do not live.’

There are dreams, there is the surreal and then there is The Chase. A highly improbable 1946 romp. Maybe pre Dallas the resurrection of a murdered heroine can be explained away as a medicated post traumatic stress induced dream. It was entertaining though, the baddies were bad, true love reigned and the dresses were fabulous.

The Chase

The Chase

‘Babelling’ a collaborative installation from Terrace Gallery, Birmingham at Sluice Art Fair created a dramatic reception point to the upper floor.

Terrace Gallery at Sluice Art Fair 'Babelling'

Terrace Gallery at Sluice Art Fair ‘Babelling’

The idea of babbling is of creating confusion and the story of the tower of Babel is one of a harsh god who creates discord amongst people who had come together in a common purpose.

For this work three artists (Ian Andrews, David Millar, Paul Newman) had come together with the different languages of their individual practises to forge links and find harmony in creating a work centred on ideas of dislocation and chaos. The result was a visual orgy of matter that demonstrated a thoughtful balance. I really enjoyed it.

Teerace Gallery at Sluice Art Fair 'Babelling'

Terrace Gallery at Sluice Art Fair ‘Babelling’

It looked like the scattered peoples of the earth had returned with all their stuff.

I liked Sluice, it was chaotic, friendly and rambling. It had a village fete quality which was manageable and approachable though maybe some artists hoping their work would be seen might be disappointed to find it lost in the visual noise. Canvas and Cream Gallery made their debut at Sluice looking quite orderly and showing work from Chris Hawtin amongst others.

Emily and Joanna Gore from C&C Gallery at Sluice

Emily and Joanna Gore from C&C Gallery at Sluice

The work I am thinking about at the moment is very much about the dream of a better place but maybe I am looking back too much with this idea. A lot of the reading I have been doing is about the nostalgia for when things were better, a time when we were still in harmony with nature but maybe I should try thinking about the future. The past is coloured by nostalgia, the future is uncertain. I feel I have three main threads that I am exploring. The intention to photograph places called Paradise. I’m not quite sure what I will do with these images yet, words like erase, space and misty come to mind. Then there is the work looking at everyday urban scenes, like roundabouts – with an added escape route, a tear, a break in time, a glimpse of paradise. Then there is the history, the layers to excavate to find the first human consciousness the time when the break with nature took place and the birth of civilisation began, humanity and it’s desires took shape.

Paradise Walk

Paradise Walk