The Plymouth Film Festival returned to Plymouth Arts Centre for it’s most successful year yet – Ben Cherry reviews the weekend and the screenings he attended in the final installment of a three part blog.
Sunday was a quieter day than Saturday, which is understandable due to people having traveled from up the country and people nursing hangovers from the Award ceremony or the increasingly amazing/awful Eurovision. Unlike the previous two days however, the films shown were quite heavy going in comparison and there was little levity.
I went to the Faith in Humanity screening to start off with. However I heard many good things about the previous screening Sunday Brunch so I was a bit gutted I missed out on that. My two favourite films out of the six shown were Dust and Resin, directed by Stephen Parker and Marie’s Dictionary, directed by Emmanuel-Vaughan Lee. Marie’s Dictionary I found incredibly sad and yet very hopeful. It was a short documentary which told the story of Native American Marie Wilcox, the last fluent speaker of the Wukchumni language and the dictionary she spends 7 years in creating. It was an emotional film especially when Marie was expressing how she may the last person living to speak the language, but the determination to keep her legacy alive gives the film its heart and I’m glad it won the Audience award for that category.
As I mentioned before Dust and Resin was another favourite and I enjoyed all the subtle twists and turns in the plot. You expect the story to go one way but it ends up going down a different path entirely. One of the reasons it was made was to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s Scotland and the film’s denouement is heart-breaking and shows how debilitating and horrendous the disease is.
The last screening of the weekend was on the subject of Moral Dilemmas. This was the hardest hitting of all the screenings. Demons, directed by Abdullah Al Maawali tells a disturbing story about a closet paedophile who struggles with maintaining his grip on a normal life. The film had a tense atmosphere and the ambiguous ending keeps you thinking long after the film has finished. Will the lead character act on his impulses or keep them at bay? From the ending I would go for the former. A brave and powerful film.
The most popular film of the screening was Mayday Relay, directed by Florian Tscharf. The film is about a German sailor and his daughter who receive a mayday call from a damaged boat that has over a hundred people on board. It raises many questions as to what you would do in that situation. Due to the lead character’s small capacity boat the likelihood of their survival was limited if they were to deal with a disaster situation with over a 100 desperate people wanting to live. It felt like the film was the starting point for the ‘Moral Dilemmas’ title of the screening and it was a challenging end to a brilliant Film Festival.
As I mentioned in the beginning I asked co-founder Will Jenkins a few questions regarding the festival. Personally I thoroughly enjoyed the festival and all the films I had seen were of a very high quality. However as I had not been to the festival in previous years I wanted to know if the festival was a greater success than last year. On being asked this he said, “Absolutely. We had more screenings, more workshops, more parties and more attendees. We’ve learnt a lot again this year, and we’ll be even better prepared next year to bring everyone an even bigger event.”