REPORT: Edinburgh Works in Progress 2018
by Giampietro Balia
- The third edition of EIFF Works in Progress confirmed that it is one of the main platforms for showcasing British productions and new talents to a wide audience of film professionals
As part of the industry programme of the 72nd Edinburgh International Film Festival, the EIFF Works in Progress’ third edition showcased ten new UK films and gave a wide audience of film professionals – ranging from distributors to festival programmers, via investors and sales agents – an exclusive, ahead-of-the-game sneak peek at upcoming British features and talents. The movies in the programme were all in the final stages of post-production and were, in most cases, looking for international sales, distribution, completion funding or festival programming for their world premieres.
Helmed by the head of Industry and Talent Development, Holly Daniel, EIFF Works in Progress took place on Sunday 24 June, and each project presented a short pitch, including a trailer or clips from the film, in the hope of winning the EWiP £2,500 cash award. Needless to say, the decision must have been a very hard one to make because the films selected all have a very good chance of ending up at world-class festivals or being sold internationally.
Starting with the winner of this year’s WiP programme, Riding the Wave by Martyn Robertson, this promises to be an easy sell, as we follow 12-year-old Scottish surfer Ben, plus his father and coach Marti and their family as they pursue a chance to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in what could be the first-ever Team GB for surfing. Robertson won a New Talent BAFTA for Best Factual for his feature documentary Marty Goes to Hollywood and is sure to continue garnering praise with what seems to be an intimate portrait of a father-son relationship and their common love of surfing.
Riding the Wave wasn’t the only documentary selected, though, as clips from the unfinished The Paper Bag Bombers by producer-director Gordon Main lifted the lid on a well-crafted account of the countrywide secret operations carried out by amateur British secret agents in South Africa between 1967 and 1972, when the ANC underground organisation in the country was smashed to pieces. An extremely entertaining I Get Knocked Down is the last documentary to be part of this year’s EWiP. Director Sophie Robinson, whose latest feature documentary, My Beautiful Broken Brain [+see also:
film profile], won awards at the IDFA, follows middle-aged former pop star Dunstan Bruce, the frontman of Chumbawamba, who scored a hit in the 1990s with “Tubthumping” (featuring the lyrics “I get knocked down, but I get up again”), in what appears to be a surreal and deeply human portrait of a resilient anarchist.
There were many fiction projects taking part, such as the directorial debut by British writer-director Staten Cousins Roe, A Serial Killer’s Guide to Life, which, as the title suggests, promises to be an entertaining comedy-thriller in which thirty-something Lou Farnt is fed up with her boring life and finds the perfect opportunity to leave her dead-end seaside town when she meets her new life coach, Val, a serial killer. Still in its very early stages, Benchmark 6 by BAFTA-winning director and storyboard artist David Newbigging took a micro-budget, mobile-footage approach to telling the catastrophic story of a family fighting for survival after disaster strikes a Trident nuclear submarine, and its radioactive material spreads across Scotland and the UK.
Another thriller-horror that caught the attention of the audience was Dark Sense by Magnus Wake, a story about Simon, who has just found out that a serial killer will murder him in five days’ time and tries to use his psychic abilities to save his own life. The film stars the now grown-up James Robinson, well known for his role as the young William in Braveheart. Acclaimed directors Mina Mileva and Vesela Kazakova have joined forces once again to form what has been described as the “demonic duo” by members of the Bulgarian Parliament, who tried to arrest them for their previous work, The Beast Is Still Alive [+see also:
film profile]. A cat found on the stairs of a block of flats in London acts as a catalyst for the unfolding of a conflict between migrants from Bulgaria and their British working-class neighbours in their new film Cat in the Wall [+see also:
interview: Mina Mileva, Vesela Kazakova
film profile]. Marking Dan Moss’ first foray into the feature-film form, Imperial Blue tells the story of Hugo Winter, a roguish American drug smuggler on a quest for a mysterious African drug called Bulu, which gives the user the powers of prophecy. Moss has visited Uganda several times to both lecture on film and direct short material in preparation for this. Also, London-based filmmaker and actress Grace Porter is making her feature-film debut with Between You and Me, a character-driven road movie aboard a narrow boat, which follows four women in their late twenties on a hen weekend. Rounding off this year’s EWiP is DR Hood’s intense family drama Us Among the Stones, the director’s second feature after the acclaimed Wreckers, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Shaun Evans and Claire Foy.
Supported through the Scottish Government’s Festivals Expo Fund and by Creative Scotland, the third edition of EIFF Works in Progress once again proved to be one of the most exhaustive and pivotal British events for film professionals interested in discovering new UK films and talents.
Here is the complete list of the projects selected:
Riding the Wave – Martyn Robertson (recipient of the £2,500 prize)
A Serial Killer’s Guide to Life – Staten Cousins Roe
Benchmark 6 – David Newbigging
Between You and Me – Grace Porter
Cat in the Wall – Mina Mileva and Vesela Kazakova
Dark Sense – Magnus Wake
I Get Knocked Down – Sophie Robinson and Dunstan Bruce
Imperial Blue – Dan Moss
The Paper Bag Bombers – Gordon Main
Us Among the Stones – DR Hood
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