Going Out Week 1

With no new British films on general release this week (2-8 January) there is a chance to focus on British films that are still new but were released at the end of last year, and to find a British film to watch in the cinema this week. December 2008 was quite a busy month for releases around Christmas. Of the 38 films of all kinds released that month, about 10 have some claims as British films, quite a significant proportion:

  1. Caught in the Act (Matt Lipsey, 2008)
  2. The Children (Tom Shankland, 2008)
  3. Summer (Kenny Glenaan, 2008) UK-GER
  4. Dean Spanley (Toa Fraser, 2008) UK-NZ
  5. Inkheart (Iain Softley, 2007) UK-USA
  6. A Bunch of Amateurs (Andy Cadiff, 2008)
  7. Stone of Destiny (Charles Martin Smith, 2007)
  8. The Tale of Desperaux (Sam Fell and Robert Stevenhagen, 2008) USA-UK
  9. Far North (Asif Kapadia, 2007)
  10. Mum and Dad (Steven Sheil, 2008)

[Source: Film Distributors’ Association, Britfilms.com]

It is quite likely that some of these films will be new to many areas in 2009. Looking forward to the end of this project, there might well be British films that are released in December 2009 that will be difficult to see before the year’s end, and so careful planning might be needed. Far North, for instance, is only showing in 6 places in the UK at the moment.

So, what to watch this week? Mum and Dad would be my first choice, but it isn’t showing locally. Not only is it upholding a fine British tradition of shocking family values (tagline: ‘parents can be bloody murder’) in the horror film, but it is of interest from a number of aspects. It is available as a simultaneous cross-platform release – cinema, DVD, VOD, and TV – ‘Stay in. Go out. Your choice’. The empowerment of digital media values! I should wait to go out, but I might end up having to stay in – unless I download it and show it to some friends in public (that’s not illegal, right?).


Mum and Dad also has a production context of note. As the BBC Film Network reports the average cost of British feature film in 2006 was £1.5m whereas Mum and Dad was the first film made under London Film’s Microwave scheme to make films for £75,000 (topped up to £100k from other sources). This is microbudget feature filmmaking in mainstream cinema terms. Of local interest is that the £25,ooo top up funding for the film was provided by EM Media, the regional agency that supports film and media in the East Midlands (‘Placing media at the heart of the creative economy’). The film was shot on location in Nottingham, but set near Heathrow Airport.

The choice for this week’s outing will be Dean Spanley which is showing at the Phoenix, Leicester’s arts cinema. This is likely to have been on limited release so far, and therefore new to Leicester in 2009. According to the London Film Festival, it promises ‘peculiarly English quirks and ticks’. Dean Spanley is an adaptation of a short novel by Lord Dunsany (Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 1876-1957), an Anglo-Irish peer. The film is a certified UK-New Zealand co-production with a New Zealand director but a story of Edwardian English eccentricity and Hindu Transmigration of Souls – what could be more British than that? I will be at the 6.05 screening on Thursday.


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