Bettenridge’s law of headlines dictates that “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.” In the case of whether or not J.R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth is a fantasy land that has space for people of colour, it’s unfortunately not that simple.
The full title for the television series taking place in the same universe as the critically acclaimed The Lord of the Rings was announced just this past month, with The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power acting as a prequel set thousands of years before the original trilogy of films. Soon after followed 23 individual posters featuring the hands of different characters, a startling development for those who hadn’t been closely following casting news for the show.
As briefly discussed in my first post this year, there’s nothing more emblematic of our present-day culture than division and polarization. With every announcement decisions must be made and opinions cemented, dictating what side of any particular issue you find yourself on. To say that the same is true for the existence of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, [and] People of Colour) in a historically lily-white franchise is putting it lightly. The following tweet made by the amusingly named (at the time of this writing) “guy online” highlights the conflict accordingly:
Knowing this is the case and having these camps laid out in such stark contrast makes it awkward for me to admit that I’ve found myself in a place where I’m also side-eyeing production for casting actors of colour in various roles, a sentiment that on the surface places me in some admittedly unpleasant company. Let me explain- Continue reading
Posted in film, internet, literature, race, television, writing
Tagged actor, Amazon, BIPOC, black, casting, diversity, Dwarf, Easterlings, elf, film, Haradrim, Harfoot, hobbit, Hollywood, Peter Jackson, race, representation, The Lord of the Rings, The Rings of Power, TV
To say that the relationship between a child and parent is fraught with emotions, most of them far from easy to put into words, is putting it lightly. Yet this is the subject of Mum, a short film that captures a visit from a trans woman to her aging mother. Having already won a handful of accolades, it began screening as part of New Irish Shorts 3 at the Galway Film Fleadh just this past Thursday, July 13th.
Mum is the creation of many talented individuals, chief among them being director Anne-Marie O’Connor and actor and star Kate O’Donnell. In addition to being able to review the short film I was also offered an interview with the two of them that allowed me to gain a better understanding of how this particular work came to be.
First off, congratulations to the both of you on the awards that Mum has won so far, at both the London Independent Film Festival and Global Shorts. To springboard off of that into our first question, as it’s screened as part of “New Irish Shorts 3” at the Galway Film Fleadh, what helps to make this an Irish film outside of the talent involved?
O’Connor: The song that is played and sung throughout the short is Black Velvet Band. It was important to me for this to link the film as it was a song that Kate’s mum used to sing to her and a song that my dad used to sing to me as a child. And although geographically it isn’t set in Ireland, the relationship between Kate and her mum feels very Irish to me and in writing this I felt that Linda was second-generation Irish and that Kate was a product of that upbringing.
I noticed in the credits that Mum was created by the two of you, but that it was only written by Anne-Marie. Could you both go into some detail regarding the creative process?
O’Connor: Kate and I are good friends and have been for years, and as she’s a leading trans actor and activist I’ve always wanted to work with her creatively. We often discuss the way that transgender people are portrayed in film and TV (the fascination with the transition, the no-one-will-ever-love-me storyline, sex workers or outsiders) and wanted to make a short that didn’t fall into those familiar tropes, to have a transgender central character in a universal story.
So I met with Kate and I asked her what story she would tell if she could and it simply came from her saying she’d love to go home and paint her mum’s nails; something she used to do when she was younger but is impossible to do because her stepfather makes life difficult (he’s always been difficult, way before Kate transitioned!). And so we built the story around her own story. It was very important for both of us that Kate was acknowledged in the creative process. So that is why it is created by both of us.
Posted in Europe, film, interview, lgbt, relationships, writing
Tagged actor, Anne-Marie O'Connor, Black Velvet Band, Colm Whelan, director, family, filming, interview, Kate O'Donnell, lgbt, Mum, short film, trans, Transgender, You've Changed
It’s a term that elicits a broad range of emotions, with each of our respective childhoods affecting how we react to it. Who we were, growing up, is a significant factor. But what about instances when who we are now is worlds apart from the person we once were?
Having spent much of her career up to now working in television, Mum is Anne-Marie O’Connor’s first short film, and one that she created with the help of star Kate O’Donnell, a transgender actor. Her debut short focuses on a trans character of the same name whose visit home is derailed by the discovery that her mother is in very poor health.
Much like the director, O’Donnell’s limited experience is also in television, where she starred in an episode of the transgender romcom series Boy Meets Girl. As the character at the centre of this short film she delivers a performance that, while uneven at points, always feels painfully real. Continue reading
Posted in Europe, family, film, lgbt, review
Tagged actor, actress, Anne-Marie O'Connor, Ash Palmisciano, Boy Meets Girl, childhood, family, Galway Film Fleadh, Joseph Pearson, Kate O'Donnell, LGBTQ, Margot Leicester, Mum, short film, trans, Transgender
With the 89th Academy Awards coming in just a few short days I’m grateful for the opportunity to interview director Juanjo Giménez and pick his brain about Timecode, which has been nominated for Best Short Film.
This comes roughly two weeks after my review, and I made the most of the occasion by trying to unpack so much of what I enjoyed about this particular piece of work. While I was only able to ask so many questions, I hope that Giménez’s answers help shine a little light on why Timecode was considered for this great honour, as well as why it might deserve it.
To start with, it’s almost no surprise that Timecode was nominated for both an Academy Award and a Goya Award given your impressive filmography. Has having written, directed, and produced so much award-winning work changed your approach with each new project?
I don’t think so. I think that no filmmaker thinks about awards or recognition when making a new film. In our case, financing every new project has always been difficult, even if the previous film has been a successful one. The only thing that is essential for approaching a new project is the need to make it.
It’s notable that much of the work you’ve received the most attention for are your short films. What is it that appeals to you about that particular format?
Timecode is my ninth short film as director. I learned that short films usually fit the way I approach filmmaking better. And what’s more important, there’s nothing wrong with that! That doesn’t mean I won’t make a feature film again, but shorts provide a great platform for experimenting without the financial struggles that usually constrain a fiction feature. Even if I speak as a producer, in terms of financial results, my shorts have always been more profitable than my features. Continue reading
Posted in art, dance, film, interview, media, writing
Tagged Academy Awards, acting, actor, Best Short Film, choreography, cinematographer, composer, dancer, dancing, interview, Iván Céster, Juanjo Giménez, Lali Ayguadé, music, Niccolas Ricchini, nominated, Pere Pueyo, performance, review, score, security guard, short film, Timecode
“Actions speak louder than words.”
That’s a difficult motto to live by on a blog, but a crucial one in regards to short films given their limited run time. Considering the fact that you could fit the dialogue in Juanjo Giménez’s Timecode on a single sheet of paper only elevates its importance.
With a handful of award-winning short films [including Rodilla and Maximum Penalty]
already to his name the Spanish director’s latest features two security guards who work in an underground parking garage, one taking the day shift and the other the night. Playing Luna and Diego are Lali Ayguadé and Nicolas Ricchini, respectively, and although their shared acting experience is limited there’s no question of their being talented performers.
Both Ayguadé and Ricchini have impressive careers as dancers and choreographers, and their remarkable control over their bodies causes them to imbue every movement with purpose, whether it’s stiffly brushing past each other or jogging back up a hallway to clock-in to work. This even extends to the corner of a mouth being raised ever so slightly. This largely wordless short film might collapse in on itself with different talent, but the duo make it look effortless. Continue reading
Posted in art, Europe, film, music, relationships, review
Tagged acting, actor, choreography, cinematographer, composer, dancer, dancing, Iván Céster, Juanjo Giménez, Lali Ayguadé, music, Niccolas Ricchini, Pere Pueyo, performance, review, score, security guard, short film, Timecode
Last week, CWR published our review of Animus, a short but powerful film directed by Mark J. Blackman. This writer had an opportunity to put a few questions to Animus actor/producer Johnny Sachon, who was nice enough to take the time to respond.
What inspired the story behind Animus?
It all came about quite organically. I’d worked with Katie [Goldfinch] a few times before. We both felt that we brought the best out in each other and wanted to challenge each other. As we’ve both produced films as well we made the decision to develop something together.
I met Mark [J. Blackman] in Cannes 2012 and had been following his work since. Out of the blue Mark contacted me regarding another project which sadly didn’t come work out for me. However, Mark asked me if I had anything else I was working on… and it just so happened I did. I guess everything happens for a reason.
2016 was a strange year for a lot of people and from my point of view I felt a lot happened in my own life as well that I wanted to explore and even exorcise in some way. The three of us met, and again, quite organically began discussing all of this and found a mutual subjects and ground to build upon. We spoke about absolutes – we wanted to produce a drama set in one location that focused on the performances. Having recently worked on projects that were bold and intensive when it came to their scale of production Animus was quite a refreshing challenge we all looked forward to. Out of these meetings Mark wrote Animus. The first draft was remarkably close to what you see on screen. Continue reading
Posted in film, interview, media, morality, relationships
Tagged actor, Animus, interview, Johnny Sachon, Katie Goldfinch, LateShift, Mark J. Blackman, producer, review, Shadows, short film