From the Sea to the Land Beyond

My love for the cinema led me to be given the amazing opportunity of working at Sundance Film Festival in London. I got to see some amazing films as one of the great perks of the job. Whilst working I was lucky enough to witness the unusual collaboration of director Penny Woolcock’s and the Brighton-based sextet British Sea Power’s film From the Sea to the Land Beyond.

As I took my seat in the Indio music venue at the o2 arena, I was not sure what to expect- a screening or a gig? When the lights darkened, and the crowd chatter softened, out walked six silhouettes. The mysterious silhouettes took their seats next to their instruments on the front of the stage. The band began to slowly introduce soft seaside sounds, and the silent film began to play. British Sea Power brought to life the silent narrative and From the Sea to the Land Beyond took my imagination back to what I image the early cinema to be like- watching a silent visual, accompanied by a live orchestral score. This feeling of being in the early 1900s was also visually enhanced by the footage Woolcock edited together.

From the Sea to the Land Beyond is a film/ documentary about the British coast, which depicts our British love for the seaside. Woolcock made and edited the film through sourcing one-hundred years of film heritage and footage stored in the British Film Institute. Woolcock weaves together the BFI’s footage of the coastline, transforming audiences into experience World War I and II, and allowing audiences to witness the end of Empire and a decline in industry. Woolcock also takes audiences to across the country from Blackpool to Brighton, and to beauty pageants and to beachside parades. Woolcock documents the rich history Britain, the British coastline and British cinema has. These rare visuals are not something that you see everyday, and were reminiscent of some of Sergei Eisenstein’s films I have watched, such as Battleship Potemkin– except not nearly as harrowing, nor full of dark tones, but being more reminiscent due to Woolcock’s use of montage. Woolcock accompanies these images with the musical score by British Sea Power. British Sea Power’s musical skills brings the footage alive through the combination of a musical soundtrack and natural soundtrack such as the sound of wind, seagulls, and ships, allowing for audiences to escape into the British seaside.

It is unsurprising that this film has naturally gone down well with crowds and critics, such as Catlin Moran in The Times, [I] fell down a dream. From the Sea to the Land Beyond really was something else”. This is a film not to be missed.

For more info on this unusual film, check out;

The official website:

http://www.landbeyond.co.uk/

Watch the live launch:

http://thespace.org/items/e00016c4?t=cmbx7

To buy and watch the film:

http://filmstore.bfi.org.uk/acatalog/info_24996.html

One Mile Away: the road to freedom

Penny Woolcock’s latest film, One Mile Away, is rapidly garnering media attention. The documentary gains access to the very guarded world of Birmingham’s gang culture. There are two major gangs – the Burger Bar Boys and The Johnson Crew. What is shocking, and eye-opening, about this film is the extent of the violence perpetrated by these gangs upon one another, and at what level this is ignored by the police and by the media.

During the film a few members of the gangs on either side attempt to end the violence that has become intrinsic to their way of life. Dylan Duffus, who met Penny on the set of her 2009 film, 1 day, heads the movement from the Burger side. Shabba, who Penny also met during her research for 1 day, represents the Johnson side. However, their peace mission proves incredibly difficult to sustain, until the 2011 riots. Faced with institutional prejudice there is a temporary cease fire as the two inner-city gangs recognise a common enemy.

There is no neat conclusion to the film but the team involved in One Mile Away are continuing the good work through a campaign which aims to take the film to the youths that will benefit most from it. The film, which won Best British Film at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, has been screened in several cities at select venues, often accompanied by a Q & A. See the website for future screenings.

Official website:

http://onemileaway.assemble.me/

Stream the film for £4.99:

http://onemileaway.assemble.me/watch

Support the kickstarter project:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/313414227/one-mile-away/posts