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Time Bleeds (2013)

July 29, 2015 0 documentary, drama

Written and directed by Samuel Supple

The outbreak of the First World War in 1914 saw millions of young British men (over 8 million in total) fight what proved to be a very bloody war. The troops left the UK via the coastal town of Folkestone in Kent. This documentary, made a century later, explores some of the themes of WWI with a group of young people taking part in reconstructions and method acting workshops.

Scenes recreated include the execution of a solider by firing squad for desertion and a tearful mother saying a final goodbye to her son at a train station as an officer reassures her. The method workshops recreate the ‘white feather’ shaming whereby young women pinned white feathers onto men who were not enlisted to fight, labeling them as cowards.

Time Bleeds is all the more poignant when we reflect that several of the actors in the workshops and dramatic reconstructions are no younger than millions of young men who died barely into adulthood. With some fitting quotes from war poet Wilfred Owen, Time Bleeds is an imaginative piece of film-making that brings the past alive. Looking back today, it serves to remind us not only of some of the prevailing attitudes of the time, but of the enormous sacrifice made by a generation, the huge loss of life, and the pain suffered by their loved ones.

Bare Knuckle (2014)

July 29, 2014 0 documentary

Bare Knuckle is a documentary from VICE magazine about the underground sport of bare knuckle boxing in the UK. Clive Martin interviews and follows various fighters and finds out what drives the men who choose to go toe to toe in the ‘ring’ (actually just a pit encircled by of bales of hay) with no protection other than a referee. What surprises is the differing backgrounds of some of the fighters – we see the build-up to, and actual fight between, a young gypsy and a qualified solicitor twice his age. What seems to unite them all is a sense of something being incomplete – as if they find solace for their troubles in the blood-spattered hay arena.

The focus of this short film is the first transatlantic bare knuckle fight for over a century and a half (since 1863), organised by budding bareknuckle promoter Andy Topliff, who is keen to see the sport brought into the mainstream.

In the finale, we see itinerant challenger Jason ‘Machine Gun’ Young from the US go up against Newcastle’s James ‘Gypsy Boy’ McCrory for the transatlantic bare knuckle belt. The fight footage is excellent, with slow-motion used to devastating effect. A fascinating glimpse into a hidden world.

The Accidental Sea (2011)

June 29, 2014 0 documentary

Written & directed by Ransom Riggs
Music by Michael Picton

The Accidental Sea is a short documentary about the Salton Sea, a large lake created artificially when a 350 square mile section of the Colorado desert was flooded by accident over a century ago by a man-made irrigation canal carrying water from the Colorado River. The Salton Sea now constitutes the largest body of water in California, a basin lying several hundred foot below sea level.

In this engaging short documentary, narrator Ransom Riggs explores this ‘Accidental Sea’ which fascinates him and leads him to ponder whether the place is a heaven or a hell. Once popularised as a holiday retreat, with hundreds of holiday homes and permanent residences lining the banks of this ‘riviera’, the Salton Sea is now a ghostly, deserted place. Like the town of Pripiat close to Chernobyl, there are clues and signs everywhere that the area was once inhabited, but now it’s barren, an eerie and vast wilderness populated by nobody. Well, almost nobody….

Vasily (2013)

April 16, 2014 0 documentary

Directed, shot and edited by Alexander Khudokon
Produced by Lev Maslov
Based on an idea by Dmitry Golubovsky and Maxim Nikanorov

Vasily is a short documentary about Vasily Ilyn, a retired farmer from the small rural village of Ryshkovo in the Kurksy Oblast (province) of Russia. Vasily has rarely set foot outside his village, and accepts an offer from Russian Esquire magazine to see more of the world outside as part of a series of ‘ordinary lives’, accompanied by a photoshoot. He goes first to Moscow and then to New York City. As well as all the main sights the city has to offer, he visits the ‘Russian’ district and chats to a couple of the 80,000 Russians who settled there many years ago.

As we see things for the first time through Vasily’s eyes – skyscrapers, huge bridges and the ocean – there is a wonderfully childlike quality to the way this very likeable character reacts to what he sees – not with excitement or fear, but simply wonder. Along the journey we gain a little insight into Vasily’s views, his politics and his character as he talks about growing up through communism and a series of ‘idiotic’ leaders whose tenure he is proud to have outlived.

Towards the end of his trip Vasily is left with ambiguous feelings. Having seen the level of progress and prosperity in New York City he feels a sense of sadness about the condition and fate of his own country. And yet he couldn’t look happier as he returns to his country life and his family, who welcome him with love and a table filled with hearty food.

Although Vasily may come from a simple background and, as he puts it, ‘smell like farm’, the rural scenes we see at the beginning and end of this documentary are as beautiful as, perhaps even more so than the cityscapes he explores. Any big city dweller can relate to Vasily’s observations that life in cities like New York carries a certain sort of inherent stress, with people rushing around as if there is no tomorrow.

Placed in the middle of these overwhelming, fast-paced modern environments, Vasily seems to have a certain inner tranquility about him which we can  guess results at least partly from the essential wholesomeness of the life he has led, closer to nature and family, as opposed to the stress, atomisation and isolation that can result from living in large and hectic cities where technology increasingly seems to govern, rather than assist life. There’s more to it than that though; as Vasily points out, he never takes anything too seriously. That, if nothing else, is a message worth taking away.

Changeover (2014)

April 4, 2014 0 documentary

Directed by Connor Lynch & David Ketterer

Changeover is a short documentary about a Pennsylvanian 35mm cinema film projectionist, Bill Frankhouser.  Having spent his whole life working with the 35mm cinema film format, Bill is facing the reality that the cinema industry has now moved irreversibly to digital technology. With no feature films any longer produced in 35mm , the skills he learned from a young age from his father and honed over a lifetime are now obsolete. For small, independent cinema owners like him, the transition will be very costly and means overhauling all the analogue reel-to-reel projection equipment with expensive digital replacements. Changeover is a poignant story, seen from one  perspective, of the end of an era in film.

VICE Meets Glenn Greenwald: Snowden’s Journalist of Choice (2014)

January 24, 2014 0 documentary

In 2013, a team from VICE magazine travelled to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil to interview American journalist and author Glenn Greenwald, the man responsible for breaking the biggest news story that year via the Guardian newspaper. He has worked closely with former NSA employer and whistleblower Edward Snowden to report on the NSA’s secret and unconstitutional programmes of mass surveillance. A former lawyer, Glenn Greenwald has an extremely sharp mind and in this absorbing interview, he explains the reasons behind his decision to work with Snowden and talks about some of the most pertinent and important issues of our time: privacy and freedom of expression. The interview goes deeper than a simple account of what happened in 2013 – Greenwald explains what exactly privacy means to the individual, and why it is so important for us in order to flourish as creative, free human beings

Nietzsche – Beyond Good and Evil (1999)

October 16, 2013 0 documentary

Beyond Good and Evil is the first of a trio of documentaries, Human, All Too Human, produced by the BBC. This documentary is about German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and his gradual shift from religion to nihilism, and eventually, tragically, to insanity. Along the way we learn how he was influenced by Schopenhauer and Wagner, about his health problems, his unsatisfactory personal life, his period of seclusion in the mountains, the formulation of his most powerful concepts, and the posthumous misappropriation of his ideas by the Nazis. A concise and fascinating picture of one of the world’s most intriguing thinkers – a man described by Will Self as ‘the original punk philosopher’.

Sky Burial (2013)

July 26, 2013 0 documentary

A short documentary filmed at the Drigung monastery in Northern Tibet, Sky Burial follows a Tibetan lama carrying out a rarely-enacted ritual, part of an ancient tradition for burying the dead. The body of the deceased is offered as a sacrifice to be consumed by vultures – an act of benevolence towards nature. The Sky Burial is a way of returning the no longer needed physical body back to the universe from which it came.

Peter and Ben (2007)

May 30, 2013 0 documentary

Directed by Pinny Grylls
Produced by Victoria Cameron

Peter and Ben is a quirky and poignant documentary about a man and a sheep. In their own ways they are both outcasts, not fitting in with their own kind – but they get on well with each other and share a bond.

Peter and Ben won Best Documentary at the Aspen Shorts Fest 2008. it screened at the London Film Festival 2007  and the Clermont Ferrand Short Film Festival 2008.

www.invisiblefilms.co.uk