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FILM OF THE WEEK Uneasy state of the nation addressed

MARIA DUARTE recommends a series of short films tackling some of the uncomfortable issues facing Britain today

The Uncertain Kingdom (15)
Various directors

THIS ambitious anthology of short films from 20 directors is a unique snapshot of pre-pandemic Britain.

Each production team was given up to £10,000, with an accompanying brief to make an original, entertaining and thought-provoking short that packs a punch. And that they certainly do.

Divided into two volumes of 10 each, they tackle burning issues affecting the country from racism, immigration, sexuality and female empowerment to climate change, disability and homelessness. Imaginative dramas, comedies, documentaries, dance and animation leave an indelible mark.

In volume I, Ellen Evan’s Motherland is a heartbreaking account of what it means to be British as three Jamaican-born Brits describe their experiences after having been forcibly returned to their “home country” by the Westminster government.

In Sophie King’s surreal Swan, Brexit gets a satirical treatment as a patriotic husband puts his marriage under severe pressure when, successful in a citizenship challenge, he can transform into a swan.

His long-suffering wife is forced to “swan-proof” their home and adopt a diet of grain in an act of solidarity that doesn’t end well.

Through a fusion of dance and dialogue, Lanre Malaolu’s wonderfully artistic and poignant The Conversation explores the moment a black man or woman has to have the talk with their white partner about their racial experience.

In volume II, Jason Wingard’s (In Another Life) Pavement — a parable about the current homelessness crisis — a homeless man slowly sinks into the pavement outside a corporate building as a woman desperately tries to save him while everyone around them is indifferent.

David Proud’s Verisimilitude is a powerful drama about the sensitive subject of non-disabled actors playing disabled characters.

In it, a jobless disabled actress is hired to advise an obnoxious rising star on how to portray a disability for his new role, while Guy Jenkins’s  Death Meets Lisolette is an affecting comedy about death, dementia and voluntary euthanasia.

It’s seen through the eyes of the young Lisolette who, on finding the Grim Reaper locked up in a barn, strikes a pertinent deal with him in exchange for freeing him.

It is worth investing the time to see all these films, which provide a fresh and individual perspective on vital issues affecting Britain now.

Available on BFI Player, iTunes, GooglePlay, Amazon and Curzon Home Cinema from June 1.

 

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