Film Focus: Episode 9- The Isle of Man Film Festival & Short-Film Edition

In this episode Emily and Sarah review new release, David Brent: Life on the Road the latest from Ricky Gervais as well as cult classic Labyrinth staring the late David Bowie. Emily catches up with some special guests, the fabulous team behind the Isle of Man Film Festival, to discuss what exciting events are in store for this year’s September festivities. We’ll find out the latest on Sarah’s challenge to watch over 500 feature films in a year and, as if that wasn’t enough, we’ll be discussing the importance of length, as Emily and Sarah reveal their Top 5 Favourite Short Films.


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To find out more about the Isle of Man Film Festival please visit their Facebook page.

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Emily Cook
This blog was written by Emily

Film Focus on: The Dogme 95 Film Movement with Ash Singh & Emily Cook

In this exclusive video Emily‘s joined by Film Focus‘ Resident Cultural Commentator Ash Singh to talk about the controversial avant-garde film movement, Dogme, where the director doesn’t get credited and sexual acts are depicted for real. In this filmed segment, Ash speaks about this exciting and often misused Danish school of filmmaking.

*Warning- trailers contain nudity and sexual references.*

Ash Singh
Ash Singh is a social and cultural commentator and broadcaster who has written for the Guardian,  Spectator, Scotsmen and appears regularly on national and international television. He has a book coming out later this year.

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Dogma 95 Emily Cookand Ash Singh Film Focus

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Film Focus’  Emily Cook and Ash Singh

Film Focus on: Deadpool

Emily and Sarah talk about Deadpool,  the latest film from Marvel Comics  and Director Tim Miller. The film stars Ryan Reynolds as anti-hero Deadpool. We also discuss the clever marketing campaigns surrounding the film’s release.


Synopsis: Based upon Marvel Comics most unconventional anti-hero, Deadpool tells the origin story of former Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson, played by Ryan Reynolds , who after being subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopts the alter ego Deadpool. Armed with his new abilities and a dark, twisted sense of humor, Deadpool hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life.

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The Film’s Trailer

Are you going to see the film…? Let us know what you make of it in the comments box below.
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Film Focus on: The Watchmaker’s Apprentice

We joined David Armstrong, Director of the Watchmaker’s Apprentice in his Isle of Man studio, DAM Productions, to speak about this beautiful film, where the idea came from and some insights into the production process.

The film was made on the Isle of Man by a tenacious group of talented professionals who are either IOM based or with strong links to the Island. A credits list can be found further down the page.

‘A compelling new film about two of the world’s greatest watchmakers – their extraordinary craft, their touching relationship and their unique personalities…’

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The interview is part of our first episode of Film Focus, you can listen to the whole show via the link below. The episode also includes reviews of feature films, the latest film news, what happened when we met with Zach Gilligan (The Gremlins), exciting trivia as well as our discussion on what makes a Christmas nostalgia film.

The Watchmaker’s Apprentice Trailer:

The film was created by the very talented bunch below:
Alistair Audsely , Zoe Guilford , David Armstrong and Christy Dehaven
Writers: Alistair Audsley, Christy  DeHaven, Zoe Guilford and Roy McMillan ,
Director: David Armstrong
Editor: Christy DeHaven
Cinematography: David Armstrong
Music and Sound: David Armstrong
Beautiful Narration by:  John Rhys-Davies. 
Animations from: Gary Myers and Andrew Martin


Christy and Dave receive their special WorldFest Remi Award


When we joined Director David Armstrong and Roger Smith at the Saachi Gallery screening of the Watchmaker’s Apprentice

If you like the look of the trailer, you can  get your own very special copy by clicking on the amazon logo below:


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Film Focus on: The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2

Emily and Sarah review the final film in The Hunger Games Saga from director Francis Lawrence. The film stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth and many more.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
Realising the stakes are no longer just for survival, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) teams up with her closest friends, including Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and Finnick for the ultimate mission.

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The Film’s Trailer

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Episode 1: The December Edition – Christmas Movie Magic

Over the past four months, we’ve been busily working away on creating a Film Focus’ brand new film Podcast and we’re delighted to announce the first episode! Each Episode can be found in video format on our Vimeo Channel and an audio version is housed on our Soundcloud channel

Episode 1: The December Edition – Christmas Movie Magic

Episode summary:
We review Black Mass, Spectre, The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2, The Lady in the Van and speak about the greatly anticipated Star Wars The Force Awakens. We reveal some awesome and surprising movie trivia, Emily and Sarah discuss what makes the perfect Christmas film and giving a run down of their top 5. We also hear from you, and discuss your favourites.

In our special guest interview Emily speaks to Director Dave Armstong about the Watchmaker’s Apprentice, and Sarah tells us what happened when she meet Zach Galligan, the lead actor from  Gremlins this week.

We also give you the latest installment of Sarah’s exciting 500  Film Challenge – she’s watching 500 films in a year!
Trivia, reviews, interviews and much more from the world of film!

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Exclusive Clip:
Interview with Director Dave Armstrong about the Watchmaker’s apprentice.

Coming soon! – Please check back for clips within the next few days!

For more episodes and exclusive clips, please check out our Vimeo Channel and  Soundcloud channel which will provide a home to all of our future episodes too. Please subscribe to both channels as well as this blog, to make sure you’re the first to hear about our next episodes.

We also have a specially created Christmas themed blog post, check out ‘Unwrapping the Magic of Christmas Movie Nostalgia’ on our blog post section.

image (1)

Sarah and friends meeting Zach Gilliagan (Gremlins )


Thanks to Dam Production Isle of Man for use of their studio for the special guest interview and ident recordings.

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Film Focus on… The Imposter (2012) by Emily Cook

The Imposter (2012) from documentary director Bart Layton and producer Dimitri Doganis, is one of my favourite films. I discovered the film at an independent cinema (Films in Peel)  and found myself both surprised and delighted, as the story unfolded in front of me. Latterly, I was lucky enough to work with the line producer of ‘The Imposter’, who gave me insider information about it’s making,  further fuelling my appreciation for this film. It premièred at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, went on to win two British Independent Film Awards, was shortlisted for an Academy Award and also won a BAFTA.
Please watch this trailer before reading on…

The film documents the almost inconceivable story of the Barclay Family in Texas, whose thirteen year old son Nicholas disappeared in 1994. Three years later, he is discovered in Spain. The young boy once so fair, now has olive skin, dark hair and his eye colour has changed from blue to brown. He speaks with a thick French accent and remembers nothing of the first thirteen years of his life in Texas. Despite all of this, the Barclays accept him as their son without question, flying him to the states and welcoming him back into the family fold.

Two stills from The Imposter (2012)

Two stills from The Imposter (2012)

The new Nicolas is in fact 23-year-old Frenchman Frédéric Bourdin, con artist and chameleon whose deception we follow in the film. As the story develops, we discover Frédéric’s con itself is inadvertently caught up in a much bigger secret world of larger lies, which even Frédéric couldn’t have anticipated. With a story so bizarre and extraordinary, any film documenting this sequence of events would make interesting viewing. However, it’s the stylistic and structural elements Layton utilises which make this film so unusual and brilliant.


The Imposter is beautifully shot offering the high production values we’d expect from cinematic entertainment. It’s a film like nothing I’d seen before, visually and structurally it’s presented as a work of cinema rather than the traditional documentary format I was accustomed to. It uses a cocktail of re-enactments, subjective first-person interviews, news broadcasts and creepy, genuine home movie footage to create a vivid account of the story.

Bart Layton Director of The Imposter

Bart Layton Director of The Imposter

In an interview, when asked why he decided to create a documentary, Layton explained, ‘The film was presented as a documentary to preserve the truth of the story.’ To me the dramatised elements add to this truth. They’ve not just been put in for the sake of it, they are a visual extension of each character’s subjective story telling. The reconstruction footage re-enforces the individual’s account, meaning we are literally viewing what they recall, what they imagine and what they believe to be true. Periodically the voice over from the interviews will unexpectedly enter the reconstruction world, where by the voice of the interviewee emerges from tan actors mouth with exact lip syncing. I find the subtle implementation of this device exciting. It cleverly reminds us we are watching an entirely subjective account.

Unusually, the interviews are shot with the subject’s eye contact almost directly down the lens. We feel confronted and implicated in the con. As each interviewee tells their isolated recollection of events chronologically, we find ourselves in the enjoyable position of knowing more than any individual speaking. We also feel as if we are the Imposter’s confidant, the parallel editing between each subjective account re-enforces this, building tension.

Beverley Barcley (mother of Nick Barclay) Still from The Imposter 2012

Beverley Barcley (mother of Nick Barclay) still from The Imposter 2012

As with a traditional feature structure, The Imposter can be divided into three acts, of approximately 30 minutes in length. The first act introduces us to both the family and Frédéric Bourdin and sets the foundations for the con. The second act shows the executing of the con and the family’s acceptance of Frédéric and the third act portrays the unravelling of the con and conclusion. In the first two thirds of the film, Frédéric leads the audience through his story of events with direct eye contact to camera.

Excitingly we find ourselves connecting with him, almost rooting for his success. It’s with the introduction of a Private Investigator, Charles (Charlie) Parker, offering us hope and answers, that the film reveals it’s final thrilling twist.

Charlie Parker is a real-life private detective who looks straight out of a Coen brothers film

Charlie Parker is a real-life private detective who looks straight out of a Coen brothers film

Throughout this process, narratively speaking, Layton does a spectacular job of manoeuvring the audience’s alliance. As an audience, our sympathy is very quickly switched from being in alliance with a family who have suffered a terrible loss, to rooting for a vulnerable young man who’s simply trying to cope in a loveless world the best way he can. The film presents us with several subjective truths, provokes our sympathies and then erases everything we thought we knew to be true.

A still from the Imposter

A still from the Imposter

The main theme of The Imposter is thrilling, it’s one of truth, deception and self deception. Layton bravely creates a space between one perspective and another and in doing so reveals more about both parties than any concrete definition of the truth ever could. In this process, the audience become implemented in the creating of the truth. The theme is poetically mirrored through the film’s dramatised documentary format; the juxtaposition of false vs truths and imagination vs reality.

Layton expertly pulls the rug clean out from under our feet as we the audience find ourselves the latest victims of Frédéric Bourdin.


Emily Cook Film

This post was written by Emily Cook

LUCY (2014) – Scarlett Johansson and the powerful challenge of gender stereotypes – by Emily Cook

Whilst visiting a friend in Ireland, after a lovely steak dinner by a cosy wood burning stove, she recommended that we watch a film called ‘Lucy’. I was so pleased we did.

Director Luc Besson’s approach to the film was refreshing, as he challenged the genre’s usual gender stereotypes with energy and visual inventiveness.

The film’s trailer

The film is an interesting fusion of Action, Sci-Fi and Thriller rolled into one. The film opens with all the familiar tropes of an ‘east-meets-west’ gangster/crime thriller. We see a young American female speaking with a trailer trash loud-mouth male outside an office block in Taipei, Taiwan before abruptly having a briefcase handcuffed to her wrist and becoming unwittingly caught up in a dangerous drugs trafficking scheme.


Behind the scenes – Lucy’s opening scene

From this point on, the film takes a change in direction. Lucy is a refreshing departure from the male protagonist led drugs/gangster films we’ve all become so used to. You know the type, littered with misogynistic one liners, with the main goal of rescuing/bedding/protecting the ever vulnerable and pathetic female ‘lead’. Plus in Lucy, there’s no strip club scene, that makes a change!

Refreshingly, Benson doesn’t rely on her sexuality but rather her mind and strength both physically and mentally. lucy review scarlett Although in many respects Lucy is a hardened emotionless killer after the first third, there are several moments throughout the film when Lucy makes genuine connections with overwhelming emotion and feelings of nostalgia, at one point even uttering ‘I feel everything’. The touching interactions with her room mate as well as mother on the telephone re-enforce this, showing that emotional strength and recognition are a part of higher evolution and at the very essence of what it is to be human. Often in films of this genre, females expressing emotions and feelings are linked to weakness. Lucy-Movie-Review-Image-7

Lucy’s kiss with actor Amr Waked tastes of success for female protagonists everywhere, as Lucy once more challenges the common sexualisation of women within action/ thriller genre.

Lucy: Let’s go. [she turns and starts to leave]

Pierre Del Rio: I’m not sure I could be of any help for you.

Lucy: Yes, you are. Pierre Del Rio: What for?

[Lucy walks over to him and kisses him]

Lucy: A reminder. Shall we go?

[she turns and walks off, Del Rio follows her looking a little dumbstruck]


I find this section of the film particularly powerful as it challenges the status quo of gender stereotypes at several levels. Firstly, the male ‘love interest’ recognises that he is unable to be of any help/ use to her, she then initiates the kiss, and finally owns her reasoning.

The character of Lucy quite simply chooses to keep Pierre Del Rio around, not because she needs him, but because she wants him (and not in a  sexual way). lucy16The end of the film turns slightly more sci-fi and abstract in it’s visual approach as we leave the physical world of today and enter a series of vignettes of times past. This allows us to be led through a thought provoking sequence where Lucy intelligently philosophises about the nature of time, matter and perception. This film is refreshing and most certainly worth a watch. Emily Cook This blog post was written by by Emily Cook