London Lift-Off Film Festival 2014

This years trophies were made from jaded coloured crystal glass displaying our international logo and award.
This years trophies were made from jaded coloured crystal glass displaying our international logo, award and a free copy of Little White Lies (indie film review magazine), courtesy of @LWLies.
This years trophies were made from jaded coloured crystal glass displaying our international logo, award and a free copy of Little White Lies (indie film review magazine), courtesy of @LWLies.

London Lift-Off Film Festival 2014 was the best yet, scheduled over an entire week, and playing to packed out audiences between The Exhibit Cinema, and The Soho Hotel. We screened a total of twenty seven films from around the world – which also included many of the Lift-Off seasons screeners to date. Our attending audience voted on the films, where we asked them for their favourite, their second favourite and the film that wasn’t really for them. We awarded two points for 1st place, one point for 2nd, and deducted three points for the least favourite. Scorecards completed in full were the only cards counted, giving us very clear, and un-bias, indications as to what the general feel was for each film.

Here are is an outline to our winners, and the reasons we believe they scored so high…

Winning screenplay, WiFighters by Rahdy Elwan.

London Lift-Off Film Festival 2014 Winners.

Season Winner: Worship by Calum Macdiarmid.
Started on the Lift-Off Network: London Lift-Off 2011.

Worship has the best hook we have ever seen since “A Long Time Ago in A galaxy Far Far Away…” – The film is centred around the final paragraphs written by a dying man as he shares his disillusionment from religion, and explains how he awakened to reason – via the carriage of a deep, visceral and highly detailed dream. Calum’s artistic background is in illustration and this shows in the way the pictures are brought together to reveal this ambiguous variety of dream-metaphor and autobiographical depth.

Calum Macdiarmid with his Lift-Off 2014 Season Award for Worship.

Calum Macdiarmid with his Lift-Off 2014 Season Award for Worship.

“Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside awakens…”

Why our audience loved it…
The film captures the essence of a turning point in ones life’s. The moment where within our own individual universe we choose to take a different direction, against that of up bringing – chained to our given circumstances and environments. The point where someone goes against this is a moment of true courage and our audience empathised with that. The journey is explained very well at the end and it gives us the amazing idea that by looking outside ourselves we can truly realise our total potential.

Best Narrative: A Complicated Way to Live by Ged Hunter.
Winning a full Official Selection for Lift-Off 2015 Season

A man suffering from mental illness has to deal with a governmental system that simply doesn’t understand his condition, taking him on a brittle road beyond the point of fracture.

Funded by the exceptional talent hub that is Creative England, A Complicated Way to Live circles the psyche in an attempt to give the audience a real and raw perspective as to the harsh realties of mental illness within its day-to-day.

Dave Hart and Ged Hunter of HartHunter Productions, Winner of the Best Narrative Award.

Dave Hart and Ged Hunter of HartHunter Productions, Winner of the Best Narrative Award.

Why our audience loved it…
This was one of those films you watch in pain for the character. Anyone with a sense toward the actual ordeal that someone is going under with these types of conditions would empathise. A very difficult film to achieve without patronising the audience or overly pushing the boundaries into the world of exaggeration or irrelevant narrative content. It has a shocking ending but this still didn’t deter our enlightened audience from making it the best narrative.

Best Documentary: Francis B. Griffin by Paul Griffin.
Winning a full Official Selection for Lift-Off 2015 Season

An elderly man in his workshop sits with his grandson filmmaker and discusses his past, his present and his spiritual hopes for the future. Many festivals at the submissions stage may look at this film and not give it chance, because to the initial eye it seems one dimensional – but that is where the trick is, it is multi dimensional – packed with love and humanity.

Paul Griffin with his award for Documentary Francis B. Griffin.

Paul Griffin with his award for Best Documentary Francis B. Griffin.

Why our audience loved it…
Francis talks about his wife, how he met and what happened to him when he fell in love, he is honest and a hilarious. Everyone who watched it, had it as either their first favourite film or their second. The film never dropped a single point. It is the relating to another person that gives the connection. An idea that we are the ones sat in the workshop listening away to this marvellous character and perhaps one day we might be the ones telling a similar story ourselves.

Special Mentions London Lift-Off Film Festival 2015.

Special Mentions London Lift-Off 2014

London Lift-Off Film Festival Special Mentions, Filmmakers and Attending Representatives.

Our Special Mentions are usually made up of the films that drew 2nd or 3rd place on the scores tallied at their respective screening nights. Once we gather up the top five after the top two we look at their subject matter and then pick the best area for them to screen next where they would stand the best chances of winning that festival overall or getting another special mention award. This approach helps us to set the bench mark for the next festivals, as the special mentions already selected are sent to our 2nd level judges who will then review against the level set by the winning Special Mention.

Special Mention: Another Green World by Christina Hardinge
Winning Official Selection: Liverpool Lift-Off 2015

A running theme at this years festival by pure chance. A man confronting the impending doom of cancer. This piece is actually put together through the words and thoughts expressed in interviews with people diagnosed with terminal cancer. These people include the writer/director’s father, Christopher Hardinge, as well as influential musician Wilko Johnson and Scottish author Iain Banks.

Another Green World

Another Green World by Christina Hardinge

Why our audience loved it…
Humanity again. Anything with a strong sense of the human struggle which couples up well with the idea of finding clarity during such times can be related to by all.

Why Liverpool?
Films like this have done very well in Liverpool before. Our audience in Liverpool have a very strong love for the human story, and many of them will be aware of who Wilko Johnson is and the connection with the writer Iain Banks. Iain Banks has a very large following in Liverpool, a few months before his death he spoke at the Town Hall to a bumper crowd – hopefully many of those who attended would like to see this film in February.

Special Mention: Lift by Mark Stenhouse
Winning Official Selection: Las Vegas Lift-Off 2015

Heartfelt and artistic. Lift centres around a young man clearing the space in a loft and moving out some clutter where he comes across a solid piece of nostalgia which he decides to reinvest in and enjoy for the day.

Lift

Lift by Mark Stenhouse

Why our audience loved it…
It’s beautiful, simple and clearly dedicated to someone very close to the heart of the filmmaker.

Why Las Vegas?
The audience in Las Vegas are a very artistic crowd. Lift has the qualities which our audience in Vegas will warm toward. The simple story and the beauty will be compelling and uplifting to them, of that we are sure.

Special Mention: Aurélia by Jade Courtney Edwards
Winning Official Selection: Los Angeles Lift-Off 2015

A coming of age story set in the French Riviera. Living with a work-obsessed mother and an aggressive step-father, Aurelia struggles to accept the absence of her father. Thrust into a place of instability, with no adults to seek guidance from, Aurelia is left to deal with the growing pains of youth on her own.

Aurélia

Aurélia by Jade Courtney Edwards

Why our audience loved it…
It’s a gorgeous film that very nearly hit the winners spot. It isn’t a story that takes the simple route of glorifying a rebellious life, or centring purely on a romance or over hashing the conflict. What Jade Edwards has done, in a very eloquent way, is simply show the frustrations of being young and ignored by your guardians. The annoying irritations of wobbling along that rope-bridge of child into adulthood, but also exploring the opportunities and excitement given by entering those dusk till dawn moments displayed as tasty and romantic windows of freedom. It is shot well and the scenery is beautiful, creating a really delicate juxtaposition against the lead characters perspective. One feels that this might be slightly semi-autobiographical as it is pitched to perfection.

Why Los Angeles?
It shows a part of the world we feel that the attending audience in LA will get lost within. We have a high volume matching the demographic, not necessarily generational, but certainly in terms of background to that of the lead character – whom they will instantly relate.

Special Mention: I Want to Be Happy Cha Cha Cha by Jonathan Schey
Winning Official Selection: Amsterdam Lift-Off 2015

The story centres around a girl working in a Little Chef cafe, whom on the surface looks absolutely unfulfilled with her day to day. But as the story develops so does her vulnerability, and a mysterious stranger enters her life and changes everything.

I want to be happy cha cha cha

I Want to Be Happy Cha Cha Cha by Jonathan Schey

Why our audience loved it…
Storytelling 101 – even the stages are numbered in each sequence! It is cute and complex all at the same time, the frames are filled with narrative and the acting is top notch. What Jonathan manages to do with the work is bring together simple story but craft performances which are both compelling, open and brave.

Why Amsterdam?
We believe that this will go down great with the Indie Cinema fans of Northern Europe. The story is purely told in pictures, and background sound. We felt that just in case many of our attendees weren’t English speakers, then this film could still tell its story without dilution. It has a really non-snobby feel, and the acting is exceptional – a pattern we notice in many Northern-European/Scandinavian Indie Cinema.

Special Mention: The Ramona Flowers, Tokyo by Bouha Kazmi
Winning Official Selection: Tokyo Lift-Off 2015

A music video shot in a very strong, almost Chris Cunningham inspired set-up. The story follows a young boy being lead by a Japanese Geisha/Sprit into a dancing filled with older women who appear at face value to be desperate for a key-note to eternal youth.

The Ramona Flowers, Tokyo by Bouha Kazmi

The Ramona Flowers, Tokyo by Bouha Kazmi

Why our audience loved it…
It’s sexy. The way it is shot, to the syncing with the music it really works well. The director has stuck to a very solid idea in his mind and has made the narrative work with the music, a task that is incredibly difficult to get right.

Why Tokyo?
It is a very obvious choice. not just for the name of the actual piece or its content, but because it is a music video with no initial subtitling issues. The influences will be a great way to make the obvious link with our eventual programme for Tokyo Lift-Off 2016.

Lift-Off Programmers Picks from the 2013/2014 Season.

The four films we picked below displayed the several different elements as to what we look for in the work we programme…

Mr X By Alex Nicholson
Won Los Angeles Lift-Off 2014

Pulling Away by Al White
Won Los Angeles Lift-Off 2013

MoleHills By Rupert Hill
Special Mention Award Winner, Liverpool and Las Vegas Lift-Off’s 2014

Jazz Ball by Ian Jones
Won London Lift-Off 2013