ANDREA ARNOLD, DIRECTOR, ‘RED ROAD’
The former kids TV presenter announced her unmistakable talent with three shorts, notably Oscar winner “Wasp.” “Red Road” fulfills that promise with an intensely emotional and poetic study of bereavement, revenge and redemption concerning a widowed surveillance camera operator who suddenly glimpses the killer of her husband and daughter. Arnold’s compassion for her characters infuses every camera move, and Glasgow’s ugliest estates have never looked so beautiful. Some critics found her script less convincing than her direction, but it’s a minor quibble about a major new talent.
Variety said: “Sensual, dark in every sense but a touch derivative, ‘Red Road’ reps an impressive feature debut (which) builds up an atmospheric miasma of suspense, then fumbles the last act.”
JULIAN GILBEY, DIRECTOR, ‘ROLLIN’ WITH THE NINES’
“Rollin’ With the Nines” (title refers to a type of handgun favored by London gangstas) features a crew of rappers who get dragged into a murderous feud and investigated by a team of hard-nosed cops who aren’t afraid to break the rules to get results. Violent, amoral and liberally splattered with blood and body parts, it’s a bravura piece of action filmmaking by Gilbey on a non-existent budget, featuring a string of thrilling set pieces including one of the best car chases you’ll ever see. Pic is actually Gilbey’s second, but his even bloodier debut, “Reckoning Day,” never got released.
Variety said: “‘Rollin’ With the Nines’ draws heavily on U.S. urban crime pics and classic blaxploitationers while speaking with a distinctively inner-city London burr. Hard-edged drama has a credible tang of the streets.”
CHRISTINE LANGAN, PRODUCER, ‘PIERREPOINT’
Langan produced a lot of popular and well-crafted TV drama at Granada before making a double debut as a feature producer, first with Adrian Shergold’s “Pierrepoint” and then in the same year with the Stephen Frears/Peter Morgan smash “The Queen.” Both pics are a tribute to her tactful skill at working with tricky but talented writers and directors to take stories that could easily have been confined to the small screen and give them real cinematic depth and breadth. These are qualities that will be desperately needed in her new job as exec producer at BBC Films.
Variety said: “‘Pierrepoint’ takes on the less-than-thrilling assignment of sketching the life of Blighty’s most famous hangman and executes the task with technical skill and sensitivity.”
GARY TARN, DIRECTOR, ‘BLACK SUN’
Is “Black Sun” a documentary or a 70-minute piece of video art? No matter — the testimony of French artist Hugues de Montalembert about how he was blinded by burglars in his New York apartment when they threw paint thinner in his face, and how he then adjusted to life without sight, is set to hypnotic images and music by Tarn, to extraordinarily moving and ultimately profound effect. Primarily a composer, Tarn wrote the rich score and also takes solo credits for editing, cinematography and producing.
Variety said: “Although the relation between sound and vision occasionally strikes too literal a note, de Montalembert’s compelling story and Tarn’s painterly imagery capably sustain the succinct running time.”
PAUL ANDREW WILLIAMS, DIRECTOR, ‘LONDON TO BRIGHTON’
Some loved it, some found it unbearable, but no one can deny that microbudget thriller “London to Brighton” packs an enormous punch. With remorseless energy, Williams drives forward his story of two femmes — a prostitute and a 12-year-old girl — on the run from some pretty unsavory villains. Psychological complexity gives way to the awful thrill of the chase and establishes Williams, a one-time actor who flirted abortively with directing Hollywood schlock before fleeing home to Blighty, as a genre filmmaker to watch.
Variety said: “A technically impressive first feature that leaves an empty taste in the mouth, ‘London to Brighton’ does what it does well, but too often seems a pointless exercise in British miserabilism crossed with a nasty gangster yarn.”