BFI Film Fund films at Cannes 2013

From a deep-space thriller to a lyrical seabound adventure, four new films backed by the BFI Film Fund premiered at the Cannes Film Festival this year.


The Selfish Giant

Who made it?

Clio Barnard made her directorial debut with The Arbor in 2010, a hugely acclaimed documentary film about Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar. The Selfish Giant is her second film, produced by Tracy O’Riordan.

What’s it about?

Excluded from school, two boyhood friends begin working for a local scrap dealer, using a horse and cart to collect scrap metal. But as they vie for the dealer’s affections, their friendship begins to falter. A modern-day fable, The Selfish Giant is loosely inspired by the Oscar Wilde short story of the same name.

What people are saying

“Barnard’s storytelling is heartfelt and passionate, fluent and supremely confident and this is a heart-wrenching movie with some stunning set pieces … This is a fine film, which cements Barnard’s growing reputation as one of Britain’s best filmmakers.” Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

“After a few opening scenes that suggest the director might follow Ken Loach’s bleak social-realism handbook to the letter, the film’s singularities blossom as unexpectedly as the trees in Wilde’s winter-bound garden — not least in the atmospheric depiction of the film’s own urban milieu.” Guy Lodge, Variety

“Like Ken Loach’s Kes, the film knells with myth: we get a keen sense of an older, purer England buried somewhere underneath all this junk, from the early wide shots of horses in meadows, idling belly-deep in morning mist, to the extraordinary, almost wordless final sequence that hints at redemption and reincarnation. The Selfish Giant is cinema that tells an unsure nation who we are.” Robbie Collin, The Daily Telegraph

For Those in Peril

Who made it?

Paul Wright won a BAFTA for best short in 2011 for his film Until the River Runs Red. For Those in Peril is his feature debut. The producers are Mary Burke and Polly Stoke for Warp Films.

What’s it about?

Young Aaron – the lone survivor of an accident at sea – becomes the object of superstition and mistrust in the remote fishing community where he lives. To clear his name, he sets out to sea in search of the missing men.

What people are saying

“Filmed wholly on location in coastal Aberdeenshire, this mythic fable … spins a poetic reverie that should strike a chord with adventurous audiences who don’t mind mood over matter … Wright’s strongest achievement here is an evocative depiction of place, where young teens flee from adult supervision and danger lies in wait.” Charles Gant, Variety

“The film’s young cast are terrifyingly good: George MacKay, who four years ago was already showing promise in The Boys are Back, is simply heartbreaking in a performance that leaves you feeling like your own soul has been peeled … In many ways, this is the dreich, Presbyterian flipside of last year’s Cannes hit Beasts of the Southern Wild.” Robbie Collin, The Daily Telegraph

The Last Days on Mars

Who made it?

Irish filmmaker Ruairi Robinson was Oscar-nominated for his 2001 short Fifty Percent Grey and here makes his feature debut. The cast features Liev Schreiber, Olivia Williams, Romola Garai, Elias Koteas and Tom Cullen.

What’s it about?

Continuing a strain of British deep space adventures (Sunshine, 2007; Moon, 2009), The Last Days on Mars centres on a crew of astronauts who return from a mission to Mars to discover evidence of bacteria living in the permafrost. But their breakthrough unleashes a deadly infection…

What people are saying

“The story may be familiar, but the way Robinson has directed it is undeniably gripping. ‘Mars’ is a nifty genre exercise, a lean, muscular and fast-moving B picture that shows that science-fiction smartly done on a budget can hold its own with anything.” Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

“Shot in muddy, naturalistic shades by Robbie Ryan, Ireland’s most distinguished young cinematographer, the film rearranges its pack of tropes to consistently impressive effect. Horror is rationed cautiously as the existential unease slowly escalates … Like Duncan Jones’s recent Moon , the picture confirms that, with the right personnel, the galactic chamber piece can be every bit as gripping as the hugely budgeted space opera. This Robinson fellow will go far.” Donald Clarke, The Irish Times

A Story of Children and Film

Who made it?

Documentary filmmaker Mark Cousins is renowned for The Story of Film, his globetrotting history of cinema. His new film, A Story of Children and Film, is a smaller-scaled companion piece.

What’s it about?

Cousins’s film uses 53 films from 25 different countries – including classics like The Red Balloon (1956), Les Quatre Cents Coups (1959) and E.T. The Extra-terrestrial (1982) – to celebrate representations of childhood in the cinema.

What people are saying

“Mark Cousins’s personal cine-essay about children on film is entirely distinctive, sometimes eccentric, always brilliant: a mosaic of clips, images and moments chosen with flair and grace, both from familiar sources and from the neglected riches of cinema around the world. Without condescension or cynicism, Cousins offers us his own humanist idealism, as refreshing as a glass of iced water.” Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

“An engaging, heartfelt, thoughtful and occasionally insightful delve into how childhood and children have influenced and inspired great cinema through the decades, Mark Cousins’ accessible and watchable documentary confirms what has long been suspected…that the many aspects of childhood bring out the best in some of the world’s greatest filmmakers.” Mark Adams, Screen Daily

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