Tuesday, 26 October 2010

LIN - winner of best international short film at Raindance 2010

LIN - Piers Thompson / Hector Films 

I was thrilled to discover that LIN won the Best International Short Film prize at this years Raindance Film Festival 2010 in London. I was also lucky enough to go to the screening at The Apollo Cinema and sensed the reactions to these arresting and beautiful images unfolding on the screen and igniting inspiration. In short - LIN is the touching, tender story of a housewife who walks out of her front door and keeps walking, she walks down her street, down the road and keeps going, until she is lost and found…but I don’t want to give too much away. Most notably, I feel there is a real craft and skill to story-telling and starting a tale in the middle of the story. It is generous when this occurs in books too, we are given freedom to be intelligent and imaginative enough to assume a past and to paint a possible future. Quite literally it is as though we have been picked up by a giant and thrown into the plot, and as audience, we are launched into the head space of our lead character. Here in his new film LIN Piers Thompson has created exactly this, illustrating a narrative chunk, the gap between the two ends of a piece of string, the fork in the road. I have been fortunate enough to have seen all three of this set of short films and find Piers Thompson has an unmistakable tone, a flair and style very much of his own. Stark, understated and never screaming at the audience, but leading them gently to use their own experience and intelligence. These films are loaded with symbols or clues to unveil meaning, the materials of the spirit, the characters experience. As in life we cling onto these objects, these shapes, like a talisman to bring us closer to something that once bared truth - albeit your child's first blanket, a lucky key-ring or a silver necklace. In the story of LIN I felt we were reminded of the nature of intention, that the more we do alone, the more we can do alone, and the more we accomplish alone, the stronger we become, until we are unaware we are alone. In all three of Piers Thompson’s short films his signature note and trademark is the survival of the core of human strength. In his first short, the award-winning WAVERLEY he examined the end of life, old age and frailty. Next through his production company Hector Films, Piers Thompson went on to write and produce K where we faced the universe of the misunderstood runaway teen and the difficulties of coming-of-age. And here in LIN we come in at the middle and meet the isolation of after-summer and middle-age. It is relevant and important to note that although they are not the same person, the same woman, his main narrators have all been female. And all of these female characters are alone, be it in old age, in puberty or in middle-age. In many ways I believe this is a feminist work as it flows with themes of birth, sex, survival and death as seen from a female perspective. There is a solitude, vulnerability in these three stages of the career of womanhood and it is treated with such intimacy it is as if we are spying into a very private world, the world without the mask. In LIN we examine routine and choice, we are permitted to imagine we can change our minds even if it may be easier to continue on the same road. There is such a quiet storm in Lin, the films namesake and his key character and we sympathise with her alienation in a world making a noise that makes no sense. Piers Thompson has a way of creating characters we empathise with, we fall in myth with, we feel alone with. Most interesting of all is Thompson’s ability to leave enough space and time so you cannot help but compare yourself with the lead narration. It comes as no surprise to discover that one of Thompson's influences is the brilliant Austrian film maker Michael Haneke - for example check out Haneke's bleak portrayal of Nobel Prize winner Elfriede Jelinek's 'The Piano Teacher' and the violence of the shocking-calm contradiction in the final scene. There is a brutality and sharp honesty with Piers Thompson, the man, the writer and the director and because of this, these stories are clear and clean. Such raw truth is found in the best poetry and it is rare. These subtle stories are difficult to portray, as in life, villians are not always villains and victims are not always victims, and also as in life the hardest step is the first one. Lastly in Thompson’s work is the underlying kindness, that it’s the smallest things that count. Acts so simple but neccesary are lifted and highlighted inexplicably. In these frames we are inhabiting cold spaces, harsh truths, stark worlds and isolation, but we meet people willing to do the right thing, often the small thing, often the wordless and thankless. This to me suggests that we do rely on the strangeness of kindness, the kindness of strangers. Piers Thompson’s work in this new film moves me. It is his understanding of human nature that astounds me, and I mean real human nature, flawed and broken. The three stages of the female career are blown apart, ripped open like fruit to reveal the stone heart of the matter. Watching LIN I was left with many questions. But most of all I burned with the question: what would happen if I started walking, walked out of my house, walked out of my life, got on a train and just never turned back? Maybe it is all about letting go of the sides, letting go of the past, letting go of the safe to go into the unknown, which is your choice and your life. I suggest you look out for these films currently screening at numerous international film festivals - next stop LIN will feature at The Cork Film Festival, Ireland. It is easy to expect brilliant things from this young director and film maker and I am looking forward to his first feature film too. It goes without saying, I wholly recommend LIN to you, because I believe you will also ask yourself these questions and if you are very lucky, perhaps, you will also find some answers. some links: www.lintheshortfilm.com www.raindance.org www.hectorfilms.co.uk © Salena Godden. 2010

watch Lin here:  http://www.lintheshortfilm.com/