For Almass Badat (the founder and director of Motion Picture), Motion Picture is a personal labour of love. Born in London and a visible activist of Black Lives Matter and the Queer People of Colour community, her work has been recognised by the British Council, One Word Media, The Dots and the Peckham Film Festival. Through sound, photography and film, her diversified and altruistic work has no limitations.
Motion Picture started out as a dream; a creative space for independent filmmakers and emerging artists to showcase their work, an interactive engagement for music lovers and a social and open-minded platform for networking. As the quarterly event continues to evolve, Motion Picture has become a pioneering celebration of film, art and music.
Starting its foundational life at Boiler Room and the ICA’s Playback Festival in 2017, Motion Picture moved to new surroundings at Shoreditch House in London on 22nd July 2018. Scaling new heights thanks to the creative and high-end production house Renaissance (led by co-founders Tamara Barton-Campbell and art Julian Knoxx), Motion Picture’s philosophical edge is immersion within its curated experience.
Motion Picture certainly wants to leave its mark on history through its workshops and in-depth discussions, designed as motivational engagement, growth and inspiration. But as a significant counter-culture in an increasing and prominent digital age, Motion Picture and their promotional series of books is that essential added value of something tangible.
As part of its showcase, six short films were screened, spanning unique creative visions and a driving fascination in exploring morality, spirituality and cultures with a resonating emotional substance.
But if there is a shared commonality between the tentpole films, then the answer is freedom. They challenge the conventional norms by redefining the creative barriers of filmmaking, representing the essence of what Motion Picture stands for.
With the following reviews, the directors and their talented productions have found an exceptional answer to that question.
What’s In A Word?
Directed by: Erin O’Garro
Erin O’Garro’s What’s In A Word? is a fascinating portrait into cultural identity. It’s a timely conversation in an era of misconceptions and perceived notions that can paint false narratives, generalise and isolate communities. The inclusion of David Starkey’s controversial and inflammatory comments on Newsnight from 2011 is a reminder of that struggle, used to chilling effect within Erin’s film.
But what Erin’s film naturally conveys is that necessary anecdotal views to these perceptions. Interviewing Caleb Femi and David Weale-Cochrane, their personal insight and experience is a confident description of how words can have different significances as a connecting force with others. They bring a balanced assuredness in their points of view, examining dual-identity and how slang language is used as a healthy identifier. But most importantly, in their arguments about multiculturalism and its profound understanding, they subsequently remove the fear factor and power that Starkey’s quotes had.
What’s In A Word? is very much a simple set up that doesn’t rely on anything flashy or to illustrate a spectacle. It lives up to its title, believing in its absolute and comprehensive power that is a deserved watch.
Directed by: Iggy LDN & Jordan MacRae
There’s a lot to appreciate about Iggy LDN and Jordan MacRae’s collaborative documentary – the laid-back beats, the visual composition, the calming and insightful interviews and its vibrant use of colours. But it’s not every day you think about your hands, especially in the context of our busy lives. But with its therapeutic like qualities, Hands promotes an appreciative and warmth engagement that invites contemplation and interactive discussion. As a documentary, it never exhibits the urgency to rush, exerting its opportunity to secure informed comments, using creative and cultural passions as its notable examples. The perspective viewpoints of Daniel Fabara, Natalie Onofua and J C Cowans, provide an intimate understanding of their personal and philosophical experiences. On reflection, Hands could have been slightly longer, expanding its field to perhaps examine other features such as faith, religion, or even age groups for example to strengthen its views. However, Iggy LDN and Jordan MacRae’s artistic depiction discover a beauty for something we ultimately take for granted.
I’m a Man
Directed by: Holly Lucas & Alice Johnstone
I’m A Man only lasts for three minutes but makes every second count with its darkly, comedic impact. Created by Holly Lucas and Alice Johnstone, I’m a Man is an unapologetic, brash, unashamed and ‘in your face’ parody of masculinity and its toxic undercurrents. Approached with a Wolf of Wall Street mentality and set within a grating office environment, the short film features members of the London Drag King collective Pecs in a lip-sync performance of a Lindsay Hunter and Pissed Jeans’ track. Executed with an energetic, heartbeat rhythm of rapid cuts and highly provocative images, it excels in its ability at being uncomfortable due to its aggressive, misogynistic and one-sided attitude. Its perspective storytelling is direct to its audience, getting a reflective taste on the psychological struggles women face from characters presented in this film. But thanks to Pecs, their ‘no holds barred’ attitude shines in taking no prisoners, often displaying a measured confidence in their male personas that sharply conveys the overall message. Designed to keep the conversation going by evoking activist movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp, I’m a Man is a timely and necessary dialogue.
It’s no surprise that the film has already garnered attention, winning the And Now What Film Fund. I’m a Man is so distinct, that once you’ve seen it it’s hard to forget about it.
Rebirth is Necessary
Directed by: Jenn Nkiru
Visionary is not a term used lightly, accurately describing writer and director Jenn Nkiru. Identified as a prominent figure in the creative industry, Nkiru’s artistic ventures have progressed from jazz musician Kamasi Washington to Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s latest video, ‘Apeshit‘ as the second unit director. Nkiru’s ascent to stardom is unquestionable, and Rebirth is Necessary is a remarkable creation of work.
Rebirth is Necessary is a positive declaration, rising above a perceived (and usually negative) veil of black culture by redefining and developing a utopian ideology. Nkiru’s exciting vision is clear – Rebirth is Necessary is a celebration of art, love, relationships, faith, dance, traditions, historical speeches and community. With its use of notable figures such as James Baldwin to bolster its premise, it’s a beautiful statement that transcends the generational cultures from the past to a world of Afrofuturism. Arranged with grace, wisdom and resonance, Rebirth is Necessary finds itself in good company, demonstrating the same iconic skillset that Barry Jenkins applied with Moonlight and the substance that Ryan Coogler achieved in Marvel’s Black Panther.
Every, complete frame of its surreal presentation is an empowering statement. Mixing music from Hip-Hop and Jazz, Nkiru dares to dream, “channel hopping” through each experience as a new definition where talents are embraced and admired for its uniqueness. “Black is beautiful” is a message passionately declared and intertwined throughout, leaving a beautiful smile on your face.
Directed by: Adeyemi Michael
Adeyemi Michael’s repertoire holds no bounds. With PAPA, The White Light and the critically acclaimed Sodiq under his belt, his unique and articulate ability to unearth an elegant beauty within its purposeful message, continues his growing trademark as a director.
Adeyemi Michael’s Entitled is a poignant spectacle about immigration, identity, traditional cultures and heritage, celebrating a diverse and rich history. Because the perspective is from Adeyemi’s mother, Abosede Ajao, her personal story and regal confidence, commands the necessary, heartfelt believability that drives this short documentary, tapping into the foundations that all Nigerians can recognise.
As a visual piece, Michael captures a fantastical yet surreal quality with the absence of road traffic in Peckham. Abosede travels through the London streets on a horse which not only symbolises freedom but a maintained ownership, taking a joyous pride in understanding the wealth that comes with culture. It serves as a smart juxtapose between Abosede’s role of tradition and spirit versus the acclimatisation of the young generation she passes by along the street.
This clever re-imagining of an immigrant’s story concludes with two children clothed in between tradition and modernity. Entitled proudly professes how as a country we should be proud of our culture as the next generation will carry on that honour and journey forward. “People make the country, not the country makes itself”, Abosede declares, and we should remember that as its lingering message.
Directed by: Sampha & Kahlil Joseph
The music video phenomenon has evolved in recent years. Before they were visual endorsements of a song, but now its an evocative journey behind the creativity of an artist. It’s worth bearing in mind that the essence of mini-movies is not a new trend. It’s most significant use was established with Michael Jackson’s Thriller when it captured our imaginations as a ‘must see’ event. Fast-forward to the present and Childish Gambino’s ‘This is America‘, The Carter’s ‘Apeshit‘ and the visual albums of Beyoncé’s Lemonade and Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer have all left a distinct mark. Their artform videos are redefining the contemporary boundaries that beautifully blend poetry and a cinematic soul within black culture. They are changing the conversation from the typified stereotypes that have essentially become repeating trademarks into a much needed, influential and encompassing statement. But not to be left behind, Sampha’s visual album Process deserves the same accreditation as a spectacular piece of work.
It’s hard not to fall in love with this film. Sampha’s soulful and mesmerising voice hypnotises you, justifying his reward as the 2017 Mercury Prize winner. Collaborating with acclaimed director Kahlil Joseph (Lemonade, Black Mary, The Reflektor Tapes), Process is a visual masterclass, delving into the personalise mindset of Sampha, taking the audience on a exploration between Freetown, Sierra Leone and Morden, South London. Kahlil combines the modernity of London and the lush richness of Sierra Leone, subsequently challenging the cynical misconceptions about the African continent. Kahlil captures the romantic innocence of Sampha’s on-screen parents and their journey between the two countries, representing as a deep-rooted and spiritual awakening within Sampha’s symbolic music. Where the video significantly pauses between the story and music, becomes Sampha’s cue to reflect and reconnect between the two environments.
Sampha doesn’t utter a conversational word throughout the thirty-seven-minute runtime. He doesn’t have to. He’s not a showman or someone who regularly seeks the limelight. There is a reason why the likes of Drake, Jessie Ware and Solange have worked with him. His profound humbleness, his powerful lyrics and his raw, emotional talent do all the talking, conveying aspects of his personality to his deep love of his mother in one outstanding and tear-jerking moment. When Process devotes time to his piano playing, it’s a shared intimacy, captivating your heart as if Sampha was directly singing to you.
If you’ve engaged with Sampha and Kahlil’s entire conceptual vision, Process with all its genuine style and harmony leaves you emotionally stunned.
For more information on Motion Picture, please visit http://www.almassbadat.com/motion-picture/