British Film Spring in Baku
Every spring, Azerbaijani audiences are offered the best British films at a special price for one week. The annual British Film Spring festival has ben organized by the British Council Azerbaijan for the third time already.
Six films were showcased in Baku this year. The audience complained about the quality of the subtitles, but those who had good English listening comprehension, were delighted.
1. ’Adult Life Skills’
The film “Adult Life Skills’ tells about a 29-year-old young lady, who is sort of ‘stuck’ in childhood. She makes videos of her own thumbs, which stars in the lead roles, and she lives in a barn and is unwilling to change anything. As the story unfolds, we learn that her behavior is conditioned by a psychological trauma; the character herself starts thinking about the appropriateness of her behavior.
Many viewers didn’t like this format, which is focused on the characters’ inner world. Some of the viewers even left the screening. Various reasons were named: “It’s a nice film, but I have an exam /plenty of work tomorrow; it takes me long to get home,” or “it’s too psychological and there is little action in it,” “it was boring, I fell asleep in the midst of it and woke up at the end, upon hearing pleasant music.”
2. ‘I, Daniel Blake’
As one of the viewers, a British national, pointed out when describing the film, ‘I, Daniel Blake’ focuses on the most pressing problems facing the British society: in her opinion, the country’s welfare system is far from being perfect. The film is about a lonely man, who is recovering from a heart attack, and a single mother, both of them struggling against a bureaucratic machine.
3. The Levelling
It’s yet another serious film about human tragedy. A young lady has to return to her parental house after her brother’s death. Her mother died a long time ago and she hasn’t communicated with her father for years. But now, having experienced several tragedies, her father is lonely and depressed. The surviving members of the family will have to rebuild their relationship and learn to appreciate each other, because there’s no one else left.
4. ‘Burn, burn, burn’
This film is about a young man, who requested hisfriends to scatter his ashes around England upon his death.
As one of the viewers wrote on her blog: “It has a British accent; lively, ordinary characters without any pretensions; it’s a road trip movie with funny dialogues, but it’s far from being a comedy, it conveys the simple and understandable truth. After all, it doesn’t irritate, as the long familiar ones, but is rather well-fit in different scenes, with a touch of serenity. And also, it’s not about teens, the characters are around 30, and that’s probably the reason why you understand them all so well.”
5. ‘This Beautiful Fantastic’
This is a film that presents the British Film Spring on posters. As Michael O’ Sullivan pointed out in his movie review for the Washington Post, it could be compared to ‘marmalade over a crumpet – it will either delight or quickly cloy.’
The plot revolves around the characters’ inner world, which is gradually changing. The film features an agoraphobic young female book writer, who has a fear of the plants in her own garden (apparently as a result of a childhood trauma), and a curmudgeonly old widower.
When referring to marmalade, the film critic obviously implied that this is a nice, heart-touching story about the eccentric losers.
This animated feature film tells about a workers’ family that lived in London in the mid-20th century. It is based on Raymond Briggs’ same-name graphic novel and is a touching tribute to his parents. It has turned out to be extremely positive: the film characters are always optimistic. But, at the same time, it is very dramatic, because they had to go through the war and bombing of London.
“The Second Bullet’, a small film by Azerbaijani producer, Natiq Rasulov, winner of the Cinematographers’ Union screenplay contest, was also showcased alongside the British movies.
The film is set in a mountainous village, on a wedding night. According to ancient tradition, if a bride turns out to be a virgin, two rifle shots are made, if not – just one. However, this ritual is offset by a happenstance. Then, the film portrays traditional Azerbaijani prejudice and people’s dependence on the public.
The film is expected to be released online by the end of this year. Until then, it is available to audiences only as part of film festivals or at private screenings.