From Glasgow to Havana via Southbank and Bafta. Tomorrow we are going to see a screening and reception for 'Fifty Kisses' at Bafta, celebrating its Guinness Record Status, for the number of people to work on a film.
This will be a light relief after the highly emotional days of listening to extremely brave and moving women, like Judy Goldberg talk of overcoming painful, personal experience; or the focussed Catherine Artin sharing her compassion; as well as seeing Malala Yousafzai just a few weeks ago in conversation at 'Women of the World' at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank, eerily overwhelming, cheering and miraculous after her near death experience. In fact her message of love helps transcend the sadness of Lennon and Gandhi, with her simply 'being alive' after being shot, and repeatedly answering Jude's education and questions with > 'it is simple,' when discussing education and choice, in a way that reassures all humanity. Then the more harrowing first hand stories of women like Nimko Ali, with her provocative and funny 'Mitts off my Muff' campaign with Feminista, a Somali survivor of FGM, female genital mutilation. Or humanitarian reporters on the United Nations which only first acknowledged 1998 that women in warzones have a particular vulnerability to potential rape.
There is some positivity exploding which I experienced at Sunday's screening of 'Day of the Flowers', when Chris points out that the film was made in very guerilla style, with a family feel of jostling open rows producing an unusual result; writer Eirene Houston, producer Jonathan Rae, director John Roberts revelling in tales of their differences, but ultimately making a low budget film on two million pounds, in Cuba itself. I am all for that family feel having started with Kafkaesque Frank Castorf, at Berlin People's Stage, who has had a Turk with little language ability at the stage door and a young man running the box office with a hunchback for over fifteen years. The airbrushed cosmetic theatres of Western Europe are put to shame simply by him alone. After we put the homeless and gypsies on stage, Frank wanting to keep up allowed the most gifted to join the ensemble and tour Europe.
To return to 'Day of the Flowers', shot in Cuba, director John Roberts points out how Americans are not even allowed to work in that country, which may have prevented a big star acting alongside the impressive ballet ace, Carlos Acosta, himself from poverty-stricken origins, which may have informed some of Eirene's writing of those heartening kinds who are not broken or worn down but raised up to immense courage when under pressure.
The film seamlessly melds alluring landscapes, filmed on 35mm by Vernon Layton, with the story of mismatched sisters Rosa and Ailie whose tense relationship overlaps on the road, as it is a road movie, with the relationship of their parents who supported the Cuban revolution.
There is something in the air with Judy Goldberg starting a campaign for 'Be Heard', a short film competition for victims of abuse, which I take interest in supporting as most homeless are on the street to avoid abuse, from family. I hope with Laura to be a conscience for it as Cathy and Phoebe say.
The Day of the Flowers is as fragile and vibrant as real life, flowing scenes integrated at the last minute writer Eirene together with Jonathan the producer admit. John adds that that 'keeps the actors on their toes and fresh'... Eva Birtwhistle and Charity Wakefield deliver a humourously wayward sisters' relationship, the former Rosa ( named after Rosa Luxembourg) willing to forego all pleasure to save the planet, idolises her father while the younger one is more free and experimental, willing to take good with bad.
Another humorous aspect to the film is the fact that director of photography Vernon Layton wanted to do some producing in a minor role as a change, when the Director of Photography pulled out as it coincided with other work, so he had to be DOP. He explains how he preferred shooting on film as it lends 'the film the look of a tapestry'; 'beautiful old crumbling buildings make a great setting.' He also mentions later to me how he 'did the 'Rock Circus' of the Stones', which makes him a legend for me. I see him in my minds eye walking around Cuban cities where they shoot, finding angles of buildings to make the decaying grandeur of an ex-colony resemble somewhat the states of the two young women. The actors throw themselves into their roles exuberantly.
They mix the aesthetically pleasing with dramatic interludes of the women finding new dimensions to themselves in the fabulous landscapes they encounter, dancing late nights for the love of beautiful local men, including the dance star Carlos Acosta who is a member if the Royal Ballet although Cuban. His zest for life and screen presence adds a dimension that dramatically alters any false view of Cuban people as lost souls in need of a Western injection: he lives for dancing. We see how relative poverty neither enables or detracts from the ability of individuals to stand out from others if they chose better lives. He teaches others dance. He is in stark contrast to the villainous family in the Cuban countryside trying to exploit innocent foreigners. As Kermode writes Eireen Houston's script is 'thoughtful and draws together a plethora of issues.' Good work I say that Rosa retrieves her father's ashes from their probable fate as a golfing prize and tries to deliver them to a river in Cuba. I am delighted that the writer and my partner Laura have an hour long chat about character writing in the pub afterwards. Eireen drops hints about scripting.
Remember to vote on IMDb so it becomes a cult classic.