14 year old Tyler Hughes attends a Pupil Referral Unit in East London. He is disengaged and vulnerable – exactly the kind of boy that “recruiter” Simon targets and grooms to promote his drug dealing enterprise out of town. At home his mother is preoccupied and neglectful, failing to notice when Tyler comes home late one day with new trainers and choosing to ask no questions when his regular cash injections start helping to pay for the essentials.
However, Tyler rapidly finds himself out of his depth when he “goes country” and has to report to Devon, one of Simon’s ruthless lieutenants. When Tyler returns to London he is traumatised and damaged, a shell of the boy he once was. Over the next 6 months he goes “missing” numerous times and is assigned to Bex, a highly committed missing persons worker who is tirelessly trying to bring the issue of County Lines to the attention of top Westminster MPs.
Events escalate further still when Tyler falls out with his mum and Simon sends him up north to a port town, where Tyler is punished by Devon for losing his cargo and then savagely attacked by a rival gang. Fortunately, Bex’s determination helps Toni break through her denial and reconnect with her broken son, encouraging Tyler to return to his family and begin piecing together his shattered life.
The film highlights the growing national crisis of ‘County Lines’ and the serious threat it poses to Britain’s children. Writer/director Henry Blake has been working with survivors of this phenomenon for a number of years and the film is inspired by the stories he has come across. To read more about the topic see here.
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Directed by Turner nominated artist Catherine Yass, this short film depicts a grand piano suspended by a crane, floating in a circle high above the BBC Television centre, it’s former iconic site in West London. The circular structure of the TV Centre embraced the world and reached out to it, with the BBC aspiring to be a global voice. It also looked inward, suggesting the BBC as ‘the living room of the nation’.
‘The piano in some way stands for the Arts which the BBC does so much to promote, and for the freedom of expression which is so fundamental to the BBC and needs to be defended at all costs. Over the BBC TV Centre the sound of wind playing in the strings is ethereal and otherworldly. It is disembodied, fragile and vulnerable, singing a swan song to the departed BBC below.’ – Catherine Yass
Brighton May 1940: it is a year of unbearable tension as the city braces itself for imminent enemy invasion by sea and Evelyn Beaumont’s respectable life is about to change irrevocably. Evelyn’s husband, Geoffrey, has been made Superintendent of the enemy alien camp and one of his internees is Otto Gottlieb, a ‘degenerate’ German-Jewish painter who will open Evelyn’s eyes to all that is wrong in her world…
Simmering with tension, resentment and unexpressed passion, Unexploded is based on Alison McLeod’s 2013 novel by the same name and is adapted by screenwriter and playwright Hannah Patterson. The film will explore the xenophobia, fear and heightened reality unleashed during a time of national crisis. Set against an incongruously sunny Brighton backdrop, a cast of unforgettable characters are out maneuvered by fate resulting in a shocking and heart breaking denouement.
Gus and son
Official Selection Sao Paolo ISFF 2017
Gus Ferguson runs a tree felling business with his only son, Travis. Neither of the men are happy in their work or with each other. Over the course of a two-day job Gus must face the devastating truth that the family business is failing and why Travis is so desperate to take control.
Written & Directed by Henry Blake, Starring David Hayman (Taboo, Macbeth, Sid & Nancy) and Anthony Barton. Produced by Anthony Barton, Victoria Bavister and David Broder. Shot on 35mm.