Now in its second year, NTU’s Documentary Journalism Masters students recently had their final assignments screened as a showcase at Broadway Cinema. With a wide range of different projects including artist’s profiles, expository, observational and reflexive documentaries, the Lyn Champion-led course produced an eclectic and original line-up of films.
The showcase opened with Roseanna Escobar-Byrne’s insightful, well-crafted profile piece about artisan woodworker Sophie Heron. Taking us inside her woodland workshop, Escobar-Byrne explored Heron’s process of taking inspiration from the natural world around her to create beautiful bespoke kitchenware. This was followed by another of Escobar-Byrne’s films: the powerful, emotional and greatly impressive Home is Where the Art Is.
Focusing on artist David Tovey, a HIV positive army veteran who overcame homelessness, depression and suicide attempts, Escobar-Byrne presents a man aware of the past but not shackled by it; an artist hopeful for the future, and helping those in similar situations to himself.
Ashley Kirk’s documentary, HS2 – At What Cost? examined the impact of the proposed High Speed railway on the residents of Long Eaton. The conflict between the government, at both national and local levels, and the Long Eaton populace who see the new railway as a threat to their town is palpable, and Kirk does well to capture some of that visceral anger on camera. Another artist profile, this time from Penpitcha Pattanajakra, who took a look at Rosie Deegan (a.k.a Elouise Makes) who, with the help of her pet mice, crafts animal-themed silver jewellery.
Chronicling the endeavours of Jack Fisher, a blind tennis player, across several British tournaments, Francis Chan’s Limitless was an explorative and interesting journey into the world of British blind tennis, and the personal bonds that form between its participants. Emma Smith’s profile of artist Oliver Hoffmeister was followed by her documentary Good Vibrations, an investigation into the practice of Reiki, an alternative medicine developed in the 1920s by Japanese Buddhist Mikao Usui.
We were then taken into the world of traditional Thai dance, with Penpitcha Pattanajakra’s Khon. Exploring the recent controversy in which a Thai pop star utilised the practice in a music video, Pattanajakra’s film was comprehensive and admirably balanced. The penultimate film of the NTU Documentary Journalism Masters Screening came with Ashley Kirk’s sincere and touching The Last Chapter. After he uncovered his late grandfather’s journals, Kirk discovered a side to a man he had never seen before. Kirk’s film is reminiscent of Jonathan Holiff’s brilliant My Father and the Man in Black, and had moments of humour and genuine heartbreak.
The showcase concluded with one of the screening’s highlights, Thomas Serre’s impressive Lady of Sorrows. Taking a look behind the scenes at AW Lymn funeral directors, Serre adroitly found a perfect balance of macabre humour, shining a light on a profession that largely goes unspoken about. He manages to represent Jackie Lymn, the firm’s current funeral director, as both innately human and utterly bizarre – a unique personality that you’d have to imagine comes with having a such a unique job, where gallows humour and a complete comfort with mortality are essential.
All of the films featured in the showcase are now available to view online here: http://cbjdocumentary.co.uk