19/20 Film Schedule
La Belle Époque – Screening Cancelled
Monday 20th April, ODEON Cinema. Start time: 8:00 p.m.
Cert. 15, 115 mins. In French with English subtitles, 2019.
Written and Directed by: Nicolas Bedos
Starring: Daniel Auteuil, Fanny Ardant
Cancelled due to Covid-19 pandemic.
Harriet – 9th March 2020
Monday 9th March, ODEON Cinema. Start time: 8:00 p.m.
Cert. 12A, 125 mins. 2019.
Directed by: Kasi Lemmons
Starring: Cynthia Erivo, Leslie Odom Jr.
‘The story of this slave saviour will give you shivers’ – Standard
This film, Harriet, can be seen to be a companion piece to 12 Years a Slave. Both films deal with slavery in the American Southern States in the 1840s – 20 years prior to the Civil War – and to a United States that was anything but united. This was a country split between a Slave South that would become the Confederacy and the Northern non-Slave States that would become the Union.
Whilst 12 Years is about the experience of an African-American male (in the parlance of the time, a “Free Black”) and his abduction and life in slavery in the 1840s and early 1850s, this film looks at the African-American experience from the other side. Specifically from that of a real-life African-American woman, Harriet Tubman, born into slavery but who chose and was able, to make a difference.
Born Araminta Ross into slavery in 1822 she escaped to Philadelphia in 1849. There she changed her name to Harriet Tubman but decided not to remain there in safety. She made several clandestine journeys back to the South to rescue other slaves. These were high-risk undertakings as the white slave-owning establishment very wanted her on the end of a rope.
To end with a quote (and I can’t truly remember the source) is that “For Evil to Succeed it only needs Good Men (AND WOMEN!!) to do nothing”.
Well, not for Harriet Tubman, not at all. She stood up and she was counted.
Just under a half of the audience filled in and returned a Feedback form. The response was overwhelmingly positive and in most cases, very positive. Of the forms filled in and returned, there had been no 1 or 2 scores and one 3 score. Nine persons had given it a 4 score and the remaining two-thirds plus of respondents had given it a 5, with comments to match.
The 3 scorer did describe Harriet as being “such an important film” but stated their concern, “As a film I wanted better direction”. Those giving the film a 4 ranking used such terms as “incredible story”, “very good”, “powerful film” for the work itself. Others centred their comments on the real-life subject of the film and her actions and experiences. These concerns were expressed in comments such as, “A most remarkable woman & story”, “An extraordinary true story. Shameful history.” and “A very important film – why have we not heard of this woman before?!?”
Those persons giving it a top score of 5 matched the sort and level of comments already given. Comments such as “Excellent”, “Powerful, Fantastic”, “Riveting” and “Very moving” were used throughout by respondents. Many respondents had clearly been emotionally engaged by their experience in watching the film. These respondents made their feelings plain with the following such comments, “Wonderful yet heartbreaking story. An education in American history”, “Very moving and so full of emotion! Bravery excelled”, “I wouldn’t have believed this if I hadn’t known it was true. Amazing.” And, “An absolutely brilliant film. Very thought provoking.”
All in all, it was clear that the audience experience of watching Harriet had been one, as emotionally charged – and in a good way – as one of simple cinematic pleasure. These thoughts were summed up by two comments, “Thank you for introducing us to Harriet” and (clearly from a Club Member) “Wasn’t my first choice, but I’m glad it won!!”
Sorry We Missed You – 10th February 2020
Monday 10th February, ODEON Cinema. Start time: 8:00 p.m.
Cert. 15, 100 mins. 2019.
Directed by: Ken Loach
Starring: Kris Hitchen, Debbie Honeywood
‘Ken Loach at his most insightful and clear-eyed’ – Telegraph
‘Don’t miss this. You’ll be sorry if you do’ – Evening Standard
I think most of us know something about Ken Loach, the director of tonight’s film, from his ground-breaking drama Cathy Come Home to Kes alongside his activism and portrayals of working class life and culture so I thought I’d write a brief word on the writer of all but one of Loach’s last 16 films.
Paul Laverty was born in Calcutta, in 1957, to an Irish mother and Scottish father. His parents had moved there because they wanted ‘adventure’ but his father caught TB so the time there was cut short, they returned home and he grew up in Wigtown in Scotland.
He was educated at the All Souls’ School there, then went onto seminary: two years in Langbank, four years at Blairs College in Aberdeen and then two more years at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome where he obtained a philosophy degree. Critical thinking wasn’t part of the curriculum which frustrated him and when asked if he would’ve made a good priest? He answered categorically, “No, it would have been a ridiculous idea.”
Returning to Scotland he obtained a degree in law at Strathclyde Law School and then found himself in Nicaragua in the early 1980s as part of the Scottish Medical Aid group and returned, after his initial visit, to work as a lawyer and recorded human rights abuses. He also spent time in El Salvador and Guatemala where he says, ‘I met the most incredible range of people, from ex-CIA agents to Contras who had mutilated people, families who’d had their children kidnapped and murdered. I met plumbers from Germany coming to lend a hand, Buddhists meditating for peace, cynical right-wing journalists, left-wing ideologues. I saw the entire range of human experience. And I also saw war. I’m sure that the experience of Nicaragua had a massive effect on me when I was writing The Wind That Shakes the Barley.’
It was after again returning to Scotland that he embarked on writing a screenplay about Nicaragua, after becoming tired of writing human rights reports, articles and speaking to delegations. Carla’s Song was about a Glaswegian bus driver who meets a Nicaraguan exile and travels with her to her homeland to face her past. The script eventually found its way to Ken Loach, ‘a total stroke of luck’ Laverty said.
When asked the reason why his and Loach’s relationship has endured it’s, “Because we see the world from a similar point of view.” According to Laverty he’s also very curious and wasn’t interested in Laverty’s CV, only ‘In what I had seen and what I had done and what I had heard.’
It was while doing the research for I, Daniel Blake, that the germ of tonight’s film grew, at each stage of the writing process Laverty speaks to the people who are living the lives he wishes to show on screen. ‘We went up and down the country talking to people in food banks, listening to their stories about how they arrived there. But what struck us was the number of people there who were working.’
This prompted him to research the lives of zero-hours contractors and develop a script on the issue. Not only did he talk with delivery drivers he spent days alongside them: I went to the depots and waited outside, went to the car parks and began to speak to people and persuaded some of them to take me out with them. The real secret was to go round with them, because you see someone’s face at the end of ten hours driving, [and] see how tired they are.
On another occasion, ‘One carer showed me her mobile phone and on her day off she’d been contacted 37 times by the company asking her to come in. If I had that in the script, people wouldn’t have believed me.’
‘In a way, the truth is much wilder than we ever portray in the film.’
Half the audience filled in and returned a Feedback form. This film had been extremely well-received by the audience and very well appreciated though “enjoyed” is not quite the correct term to describe the experience of most individuals. Of those submitting a feedback form, 1 person had scored it with a 2 and 3 persons with a 3. The rest of the returns were 4 and 5 scores, with one third being 4s and the two thirds majority being a 5.
The individual/couple giving it a 2 had found it rather emotional, “Too strong for us”, whilst a 3 respondent commented, “Bleak, but probably true” and another, “Totally depressing”.
Those respondents giving it a 4 were as one in their emotional reaction to the film. The film had been found to be strongly and dramatically powerful with the high quality of the acting being noted by several individuals. The following comments reflect this, “Tough watch, very good performances”, “Heartbreaking. Superb acting – could not believe they were not a real life courier and carer”, “Thought provoking”. “Manipulation & exploitation of franchise workers & carer workers” and “Powerful, uncomfortable”, “Too close to reality”, “Absolutely brilliant acting”.
Referencing Ken Loach as director of the film, two respondents made comments. Referring to Ken Loach’s previous film, one person noted that that it was, “Even more harrowing than, I, Daniel Blake!” The second individual felt otherwise, “Loach laid it on thick, too thick”.
For those individuals giving it a 5 score their comments made it plain that they were as one with the emotional response of those giving it a 4. Indeed, at points, comments made were even more strident. The following feedback reflect these sentiments, “Truly difficult to watch. The struggles of this lovely family were heartbreaking to observe, so bleak, so shocking”, “Heart breaking & shameful that in the UK in 2020 this is a reality” and “If only politicians could be forced to watch this!!”
The overall and very emotional response of those that had provided feedback can be expressed in the following two comments, “Am speechless with shame at what we allow in this country. Thank you AFC & Ken Loach” and even more to the point, “I just don’t know what to say”.
This film may or may not change peoples’ lives. However from the comments received in the Feedback returns, it is clear that most people that watched the film and provided feedback did not leave the auditorium without being markedly affected by what they had just seen.
Official Secrets – 13th January 2020
Monday 13th January, ODEON Cinema. Start time: 8:00 p.m.
Cert. 15, 112 mins. 2019.
Directed by: Gavin Hood
Based on: The Spy Who Tried to Stop a War
by Marcia & Thomas Mitchell
Starring: Keira Knightley, Matt Smith, Ralph Fiennes
‘Keira Knightley shines as a very British whistleblower’ – Guardian
‘An unmissable film’ – Daily Mail
“Here I stand, I can do no other”.
These are the words spoken, or at least, held to be spoken, by Protestant Reformer Martin Luther in April 1521, when he was in front of Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V and accused of teaching that the Catholic Church was wrong. In the 16th Century, Luther’s action was the modern equivalent of being a whistle-blower. And what he did gets to the very heart of this film, set 500 years later, in 2003 – in the run up to the first Iraq war.
How so? Well, Luther put loyalty to his personal conviction about what he considered morally right in front of his loyalty to the organisation that he was, as a monk in religious orders, a signed-up member of. In this film, the chief character, Katharine Gun (played by lead actress Keira Knightley), works at Spook Central, GCHQ, and in her own way is as much a signed-up member of that organisation.
One day Katharine comes across information from the Americans requesting British assistance to discreetly coerce certain UN countries in getting UN approval for the invasion of Iraq. And she knows this one’s for real. And she decides to go public with this information and does.
This is what the film deals with- her decision and the actions that flow from it. But not only do actions have results, they also have consequences – and the film deals with this aspect as well. And we’ll all find out what happens. But, we might be thinking, what would I have done in her place? Personally – and here I have to give full and frank disclosure – I’d have kept my head right down and my mouth completely shut.
Well, thank you for listening so kindly.
Let’s all watch the film – and form our own conclusions.
Just over 40% of the attendees filled in and returned a Feedback form. This film had been much enjoyed by the audience and had been extremely well-received. Of those submitting a feedback form, 9 persons had scored it with a 4 and everybody else (46 returns) had all given it a top score of 5.
Reaction to the film was consistent across both scores with “Brilliant”, “Excellent”, and “Gripping” being terms used by many to describe their assessment of it. One person felt that it was “Spine tingling”.
The high quality of the acting overall was cited by a number of persons and especially that of Keira Knightley’s portrayal of Katherine Gun. One respondent’s comment encapsulated this feeling, “very good acting- best ever from Keira”. Using Knightley’s performance in the role and the emotional intensity she brought to it, there were several comments that dwelt on Katherine Gun’s actual experience during the real-life events in which she was involved. Again, this sentiment was caught by one person’s comment, “What a brave & principled young woman. You felt her tension in being able to follow through her convictions”.
There were a number of comments addressing the wider perspective of the time and events the film was set in. Some individuals indicated the story was new to them, “… a story I was unaware of.” Other comments reflected on the events of that time and the political universe (especially in the UK) in which these events took place. One person felt that this film was “Excellent” and that (for reasons unspecified) a certain individual should have been in the audience, “I am sure Tony Blair would have enjoyed the film”.
Whatever may or may not have been the case of that – the entire audience that was there most certainly did enjoy the film and did so very much indeed.
Pain and Glory (Dolor y gloria) – 9th December 2019
Monday 9th December, ODEON Cinema. Start time: 8:00 p.m.
Cert. 15, 113 mins. In Spanish with English subtitles, 2019.
Directed by: Pedro Almodóvar
Written by: Pedro Almodóvar
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Asier Etxeandia, Penélope Cruz
‘Bittersweet perfection from Pedro Almodóvar’ – Observer
‘Nothing less than delicious’ – Standard
Pedro Almodóvar came to prominence as a director and screenwriter during La Movida Madrileña, a cultural renaissance that followed after the end of Francoist Spain and his early films characterised the sense of freedom of the period. In 1986, he established his own film production company with his younger brother Agustín, who’s produced his films since Law of Desire (1987).
Almodóvar moved to Madrid in 1967 against his parents’ wishes to become a filmmaker after becoming inspired by the outdoor screenings he frequented as boy where he believes he got his real education. When Franco closed the National School of Cinema in Madrid, he taught himself whilst finding ways to support himself, he sold used items at a flea market and became an administrative assistant for Telefónica, where he worked for twelve years.
Almodóvar achieved international recognition for his black comedy-drama Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988), which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and went on to more success with the dark romantic comedy film Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, the melodrama High Heels (1991) and the romantic drama thriller Live Flesh (1997). His subsequent two films won an Academy Award each: All About My Mother (1999) received the award for Best Foreign Language Film while Talk to Her (2002) earned him the award for Best Original Screenplay. Almodóvar followed this with the drama Volver (2006), the romantic thriller Broken Embraces (2009), the psychological thriller The Skin I Live In (2011) and the drama. Julieta (2016), all of which were in competition for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. His films are marked by his employment of certain actors and creative personnel, complex narratives, melodrama, pop culture, popular songs, irreverent humour, strong colours, and glossy décor. Desire, passion, family, and identity are among Almodóvar’s most prevalent themes.
Almodóvar insists that a lot about Pain and Glory is pure fiction but aspects of Salvador’s life echo his upbringing especially his Catholic childhood and more recent physical struggles, he had back surgery that immobilized him for a year which slowed down his ability to do any work and this is reflected in the film.
“When the script became deeply about myself, I did have a moment of hesitation,” he said. “Did I want to keep to keep on talking about myself this way? Because then I would have to go deeper.” He found this difficult because for all of his outrageous, colourful films and characters he says, “I’m very shy.”
“I’m trying to convince myself I’m talking about a character,” he says. “But deep down I know I’m talking about myself.
In the film, Mallo realises without film-making life has no meaning and Almodóvar feels that too. “I rely on it, it’s an addiction, the need to tell stories. So I’ve now reached the point where film is the only thing that makes me feel whole. Cinema is the only thing I have. It’s finished up being both the end and the means for me.”
Almost half the audience filled in and returned a Feedback form. There were 5 markings of 2 and 3 with the rest being 4 and 5 scores, with the total of 4 scores just edging ahead of those giving the film a top 5 score.
Respondents giving it a 2 or 3 score felt that the film contained good elements but didn’t work for them as a whole. They commented that whilst they found, “…the cinematography and acting superb and reflected a life of a Catholic little boy” and “the childhood scenes were tender & absorbing (…). Otherwise I couldn’t engage with a lot of the story despite excellent acting.” and “…film dragged (a bit slow)”.
Some of those giving it a 4 score also felt it was rather too leisurely paced at the start but did finally get into gear, “A long time to get going but good when it got going. I enjoyed it.” and “A bit slow at times but I guess that is how it was, and all adds to the story.” There were shorter but highly positive comments such as, “interesting”, “Solid film. Lovely ending” and “Utterly absorbing – most intriguing & beautifully filmed.”
Respondents that gave it a top 5 score felt that the film had hit all the right spots and ticked all the right boxes. There was an overall sense that this film was as good there was. This was reflected in the many comments such as, “Brilliant!”, “Well structured and moving”, “…wonderful acting & masterful directing” and “Fab! So engaging. A Dream!” The following comment from the 5 score rankings exemplifies this, “Totally moving – a wonderful film. Thank you. Muchas gracias.” This was clearly a film that people felt had been a proper use of nearly 2 hours of their lives.
Jeux interdits (Forbidden Games) – 11th November 2019
Monday 11th November, ODEON Cinema. Start time: 8:00 p.m.
Cert. 12, 86 mins. In French with English subtitles, 1952.
Directed by: René Clément
Based on: Jeux interdits by François Boyer
Starring: Georges Poujouly and Brigitte Fossey
‘As an indictment of war it is unsurpassed. As a work of art it is a notable contribution’ – The Spectator
Reading up about tonight’s film it seems that it’s been forgotten by the arbiters of film history as has its director, René Clément, who had a very successful period early on in his career.
Jeux interdits won the Grand Prix at the Venice Film Festival of 1952, the Best Foreign Language Film Award Oscar in 1953 and was adjudged “The Best Film from Any Source” by Bafta in 1954. Surprisingly it wasn’t initially successful at home, it was lambasted by some, who said it was a “vicious and unfair picture of the peasantry of France”. It wasn’t to be the first time a film of Clément’s was to be judged harshly. He also later found himself a victim of contributors to Cahiers du Cinéma.magazine including François Truffaut and Claude Chabrol, who later became filmmakers themselves, condemning him, amongst others, for le cinéma de papa – making films that were grand and theatrical that placed more emphasis on storytelling than on direction, an accusation that many felt was unfair.
Clément made his first amateur film while still a student after switching from studying architecture and in the mid-to-late 1930s made a number of shorts including Soigne ton gauche starring Jacques Tati before making documentaries during the war. His first mainstream success was in 1946 Bataille du rail (The Battle of the Rails) about railroad workers who were part of the organized resistance during the occupation, he then assisted Cocteau on La belle et la bête and in some places he has been credited as a co-director of the film, stepping in when Cocteau’s ill health came to the fore though officially he was the technical adviser on the film.
He consolidated his reputation with the thriller, Les Maudits (1947), and in 1950 his Au-delà des grilles known here as The Walls of Malapaga won Best Foreign Language Film Award Oscar in 1951. After Jeux Interdits he made Monsieur Ripois or Knave of Hearts in London in which Gérard Philipe, a clerk bored of paperwork, seduces his female boss, a girl from the suburbs and a lady to whom he’s teaching French. The first reaction of the British press was that the film was a libel on British womanhood before more considered opinions were made.
The size and scale of his films increased and began to feature international stars with titles such as Gervaise in 1956, loosely based on Zola’s L’Assommoir and La Diga sul Pacifico (The Sea Wall) based on Marguerite Duras’ novel about colonial life in Indo-China. Plein soleil or Purple Noon, an adaptation of The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith was a diversion into thrillers before returning to the international productions.
Unfortunately he became unstuck with Paris brule-t-il? (Is Paris Burning?) in 1966 in which a huge ensemble cast tell the story of the city’s liberation in the August of 1944. Written by Gore Vidal and Francis Coppola it was judged a failure.
The knock-on effect was that Clément’s last few films were low-budget thrillers which were released to little success and it ultimately meant that he stopped making films at the age of 62 years of age.
Though he’d been written off he might have received one crumb of comfort when François Truffaut wrote a letter of apology to Clément after re-watching his The Day and the Hour, made in 1963, after seeing elements within it that he’d missed first time round.
Tonight however we return to his heyday……
Just under half the audience filled in and returned a Feedback form. All scores were 3 or above with the overwhelming majority being 4 and 5. Those giving the film a 3 score were still on the very positive side with their comments, with the following statement getting to the emotional heart of the film, “An unsettling film mixing the horrors of war and death, interspersed with humour. (…) A very sad story”. Specific note was drawn to the acting of the two child actors, “How do they get small children to act so well?”
Many of these themes were taken up by the rest of the respondents; those that gave it a 4 or 5 score. “Wonderful”, “Superb”, “Brilliant” were single word assessments by several individuals. The two central elements of the film, the acting of the children and the sense of time and place (rural France during June 1940) was also picked up by many respondents with comments such as, “Lovely film. The war seen through children’s eyes. Moving scenes of French country life”, “Excellent depiction of rural French life – children superb…” and “Brilliant child actors, very poignant”.
As well individuals noting these elements there was a theme of recognition of the innocence of the children and how the world they had constructed for themselves was destroyed as outside events inevitably broke in on it. The boy feels his father has betrayed him by handing over the girl to the Red Cross authorities. The girl, now alone and friendless, having lost her ‘brother’ is caught up again in the chaos of the adult world at war. Comments expressing this were such as, “Delightful film. Innocence of children. But such a sad ending”, “Not the ending I would have wanted” and “Enjoyable but a strange ending”. All in all, this was a film that everyone that wrote a comment had an emotional response to.
The Keeper – 14th October 2019
Monday 14th October, ODEON Cinema. Start time: 8:00 p.m.
Cert. 15, 119 mins. 2018.
Directed by: Marcus H. Rosenmüller
Starring: David Kross, Freya Mavor
‘A great story of love in adversity and is handsomely told’ – Radio Times
‘A charming and often enlightening watch’ – Little White Lies
And now The Keeper.
This film is the story of Bert Trautmann and how he became the long-standing goalkeeper for Manchester City Football Club after the Second World War. In terms of format it’s a standard film bio-pic of somebody with an exceptional sporting talent and depicts their life and sporting career and life in a very straightforward way.
Bert arrived in England in the final weeks of the Second World War as a captured enemy German combatant. He was sent to a Prisoner of War Camp near St Helens in Lancashire. During the war he’d served in a combat role as a paratrooper, first on the Eastern Front and then latterly in the West when his unit was transferred there. He wasn’t a Nazi but he was German – and in some peoples’ eyes at this time – that was pretty much the same thing.
This film shows what happens to Trautmann and how his life took turns for the better as his footballing ability as a goal keeper became noticed and encouraged. It’s through this common involvement with football that he and others were first able to connect together as human beings. Then people got to know him as a person and he them.
What’s also important is the wider background of events which assisted Bert’s assimilation into English society. By very soon after the end of the Second World War the Germans were becoming seen, not as “The Enemy” but as “Yesterday’s Enemy”. The new Enemy was the Soviet Union and the Russians. A prime example of this change in attitude occurred in 1948 when West Berlin was cut off by the Russians and had to be air supplied by the Western Allies. This was the Berlin Airlift.
As the allied transport planes landed in Berlin (about 1 every 3 to 5 minutes) not only did they had to be unloaded, they also had to be serviced. And this servicing was mainly done by German mechanics, most of whom would have served during the war in the German air force, as in the Luftwaffe. The world moves on. Attitudes change.
Although based on a real life, this film is a work of drama, not a documentary and there is some dramatic licence in what is shown. Even so, it is about our humanity and how our humanity can come through – if we make the effort to engage with it and with others – and then if we keep on making that effort.
As to what actually happens in the story…let’s all watch the film and find out.
Thank you for listening so kindly.
Just under half of the audience filled in and returned a Feedback form. This was a film that had clearly been well-received by the audience. Of the responses returned, the lowest score was a single 3 and all of the remaining scores were 4s and 5s with the 5 scores being a full three-quarters of the entire response of all feedback.
Although a respondent had giving the film a 3 score they felt it had been very positive experience as they commentated, “Good portrait of reconciliation & power of sport to heal”. And this comment was picked up throughout the responses in both the 4 and 5 scores.
Indeed, this was a film where all of the comments focussed onto the twin aspects of the high quality of the film itself as a work of cinema and of the emotional importance and significance of the subject it dealt with. One person commented that the pre-film introduction should not have referenced the storyline development.
Regarding the film as an example of technical cinematic merit, the overwhelming agreement was that this was excellent piece in all respects. Commenting on the technical and production values of the film, respondents would then usually continue with addressing the subject of the film in its wider emotional and moral aspects. The following comments exemplify these general sentiments, “…Excellent acting, atmosphere, great balance of humour & more serious moral dilemma moments”; “A truly fantastic film – Exceptional acting from all – heart-breaking attitudes – horrors of war – care of others and understanding – Wonderful music” and “Great choice, we all thought it was well cast and directed”. As well as longer comments such as these many persons described the film simply as “Wonderful”, “Superb”, and in many comments, “Excellent”.
For two of the respondents, the film brought back personal memories. Given this personal link, these are worth quoting in full. “Having grown up in Manchester with the knowledge of Bert Trautmann (albeit we were all Man U supporters!) this film was very moving. An excellent story of love, forgiveness and humanity.” and “Wonderful film. I saw him play & saw the 56 cup final. Remarkable man.” Clearly, tick in the box for everybody and for some in a deeply personal way.
Maiden – 9th September 2019
Monday 9th September, ODEON Cinema. Start time: 8:00 p.m.
Cert. 12A, 97 mins. 2018.
Directed by: Alex Holmes
Featuring: Tracy Edwards, Jeni Mundy, Mikaela Von Koskull
‘An exhilarating and inspiring watch’ – Little White Lies
‘It’s a knuckle-whitening tale of courage and grit.’ – Time Out
Tracey Edwards recently said that she had never been able to truly appreciate the accomplishment of her crew until they reassembled for a screening of tonight’s film in June 2018 for the first time in 27 years, all the while laughing with disbelief as she watched herself on the big screen, almost unable to recognise her younger self.
“It changed my life, she made me who I am.” She said, “She showed me what’s possible. Oh my God, I can’t imagine my life without Maiden — it’s quite a horrible thought.” Though the experience and the race brought many happy memories there were downsides, the immediate aftermath sent her into a spiral of depression, “We had been together, for some of us, three years. We bonded, way closer than we realised. Everyone I cared about for all that time was suddenly gone. It was a massive wrench at the end. It took two years to get back into sailing.”
Maiden still permeates Edwards’ life even now — her daughter refers to the boat as her ‘first born’ and the two ‘daughters’ met for the first time when Edwards salvaged and restored Maiden two years ago after hearing that it had been rotting in the Seychelles for a number of years.
Maiden surfaced yet again, in another guise, after Edwards spoke at the director of tonight’s film daughter’s end-of-year assembly. An award-winning filmmaker in his own right Alex Holmes’ initial thought was to make a drama until Edwards told him that the entire voyage had been filmed. Piecing it together with some other race footage, the film took two years to edit to completion merging crew interviews into the story encapsulating the experience, adventure and danger.
It was in 2014, just a few weeks before meeting Holmes that Edwards was told that Maiden had been abandoned in the Seychelles. She then launched a crowdfunding appeal to buy her back to rescue and restore her. Once restored Maiden will embark on a world tour lasting three years to raise awareness and funding for girls’ education projects and will surely play another huge part in Tracey Edwards’ life again.
Just over a half of the audience filled in and returned a Feedback form. From the responses returned, it was clear that this documentary had been a definite hit with the audience. Of those returning a feedback form 1 person had given it a 2 score response whilst 3 respondents had given individual scores of 3 and 4. All the remaining submitted responses (that is 92%) had given it a 5 score. One person had hand-written in a 10 score.
Those allocating it a lower score had commented with caveats more than criticisms, “Not a film I would have chosen”, “…Slow then utterly gripping” and “Fascinating but raised more questions than answers”. One comment from this group did focus on the positive depiction of the women crew and their achievement.
For the remainder of the respondents, those giving it a 5 score, a common thread that ran through the comments was centred on the achievement of the Maiden’s crew. A phrase frequently used was, “very inspirational”. This was augmented by other positive comments. All-in-all, the following comment sums up the feeling of many, “Terrific story of commitment, achievement + determination + belief… Really enjoyed it”.
Many in the audience were also emotionally brought in to the actuality of the voyage itself as shown on the screen and also to an appreciation of this documentary as an example of cinematic art at its finest. This came through very strongly with the widespread use of descriptive terms such as, “brilliant”, “excellent”, “wonderful” and “gripping”. The following comments take in and express the substance of these feelings, “First class documentary. Thoroughly enjoyable”, “Much better than expected, did not think the format would be as compelling as it was. Fantastic gripping film in its own right as well as [a] great piece of social history” and “Amazing and moving film… it seemed to leave the whole audience stunned into silence”. Clearly, a viewing experience that most in the audience were glad they had experienced.