This has been a very interesting weekend for me on the film/cultural front, largely thanks to John. Firstly, late on Thursday night, he suggested going up to The Barbican on Friday to see Midnight Traveller. I had never heard of it, but from the online reviews it looked very interesting indeed.
That turned out to be an understatement: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more powerful, compelling piece of film. It tells the story of a family from Afghanistan trying to make it to Europe. It’s a documentary shot entirely using mobile phones, so it feels very real and raw. The hardships the family had to endure, shipped from refugee camp to refugee camp, paying off shady contact after shady contact, made me think just how lucky I am. There is a lot to be said about this film. It’s very gritty and gruelling, yet shot through with moments of humour which give it a humanity which I found utterly compelling. I was also fascinated by the way it was shot: It clearly used mobile phone footage, but the editing is so proficient you do not notice it. It has a solid plot structure and editing style. I could say a lot about it, but I need to watch it again first.
After the screening, there was an audience talk with the producer and one of the men in the film. How cool is that? We got to ask them questions and congratulate them on making such an outstanding, astounding film.
That, however, wasn’t all.. Yesterday I had another filmic treat. Our initial plan was to go to Peckham to see the sequel to The Shining, but because of the busses we got there too late, so instead we saw Official Secrets, a dramatisation of how a whistleblower called Katherine Gunn tried to expose the fact that our then government was trying to deceive the UN over the legitimacy of the war in iraq, and the disgusting lengths the government went to to try to stop her. It was another incredibly moving film, and I left the cinema disgusted that such things could still happen in this country. Mind you, I did raise an eyebrow at the fact that a film about Labour’s stupidity would be released just at the moment when the Tories are trying to deflect attention away from theirs, but that aside, this is a powerful, important film which I think everyone should see – the second of the weekend.