WALES WELCOMES THE BEST OF THE WORLD..

From the Best of Bollywood, to the rolling mountains of Switzerland, Wales’ travelling film festival returns this March with an inspiring feast of cinematic magic from around the globe. First brought to our attention in 2001 – thanks to the daring imagination of festival director David Gillam – Wales One World film festival has continuously challenged, excited and touched audiences all across Wales. This year, the festival promises to be bigger and better than ever before, with a diverse range of untold stories and dazzling events to rival the popularity of previous years.

Travelling between Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Chapter Arts Centre Cardiff, Clwyd Theatr Cymru Mold, Taliesin Swansea and Theatr Mwldan Cardigan, WOW 2014 brings 18 of the very best world cinema films to all parts of Wales, with exclusive events across every location.

A Story of Children and Film

A Story of Children and Film

 Kicking off on Friday 21 March until Wednesday 9 April, the festival opens at Chapter Arts Centre with the Welsh premier of A Story of Children and Film; a rich exploration of the position of children in arguably the most popular art form of our time. Drawing on scenes from some of the most recognised classics, the film is directed by the celebrated Mark Cousins, the director of Channel 4’s The Story of Film, and followed by a special Q & A session. 

Metro Manila, Sundance Film Festival 2013

Metro Manila

 But this year’s festival doesn’t stop there. Perhaps one of the most outstanding factors of WOW 2014 is the high level of work it is exhibiting, with award-winning and BAFTA nominated world cinema scattered throughout. Winner of the Audience Award at the Sundance film festival and BAFTA nominated Metro Manila promises to shock audiences with its tense and gripping thrill factor, whilst the winner of last year’s Best Documentary Prize at last year’s European film awards Winter Nomads looks to take audiences on a thought-provoking journey of discovery.

787ae9ec9023a82f5aa7e4c1a64f73cb_L

Winter Nomads

 The ingenious work on display truly plays homage to the journey the festival has taken itself on since 2001, becoming a globally recognised and powerful event, attracting world-class talent and pulling in growing audiences year on year.

 The growing phenomenon that is WOW also means the festival can now put on bigger events, such as this years Best of Bollywood Live; a new departure for the festival thanks to a partnership between WOW and their sister project, WOW Women’s Film Club. The event will take place on Saturday 22 March with a pop-up film and live music experience at Samaj Community Centre, Grangetown. Magnificent clips of iconic Bollywood scenes accompanied by the encapsulating beat of the Bollywood Brass Band promise to transport its audience members out of the festival and into a whole new world, with a delicious array of authentic Gujarati food set to seal the evening in true style.

BBB Oslo Opera posing - photo Michelle Baracho

Bollywood Brass Band

 And that’s not all. Big or small, popular or untold, every story that the Wales One World film festival brings to its audiences illuminates our world in which we live in, from the voices of those often kept quiet. The festival brings the world a little closer to home, and takes its audience on a journey to places they may have never been. It’s innovative, expressive and utterly inspiring; and this year’s programme looks to take the festival to new heights.

 TOP FIVE

 PAPUSZA

Papusza Still 2 (1)

 An inspired evocation of a Gypsy life lost for ever, this film charts the life of Polish Roma Poet Bronislawa, full of music, despair and triumph. With strikingly beautiful black and white imagery and a tale of discovery, this film looks to linger in the audiences’ mind for years to come.

 SOMETHING NECESSARY

feb4274796d93ff716e9650163a77fb8_L

 The tale of Anne, a strong-willed widow trying to piece her life back together after the civil unrest of Kenya. The film follows her life after the 2007 elections, where devastation left her widowed, her son hospitalized and her farm in tatters. Inspiring, consuming and heart-rendering; a must.

 THE SECOND DEATH

077ab55046ce80eaf9a3ddea999597ca_L

 Something entirely different, this classy supernatural thriller is a cleverly scripted and atmospheric portrait of a twisted ghost story and a paranormal murder mystery.

 WHEN I SAW YOU

WISY13

 A powerful Palestinian drama about a rebellious young refugee on the hunt to find his Father. A touching story of people affected by the trying times around them, desperately searching for a way out.

 THE LUNCHBOX

lunchbox

Quaint and subtle, this film tells the romantic tale of two mismatched personalities that have never even met. Clever, comical and charming, this delightful picture promises to put a smile on your face.

PREVIEW: BLUE/ORANGE AT SHERMAN CYMRU..

21-23 January at Sherman Cymru.

Tickets £12 (Under 25s £6)

blue orange

Christopher has been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder.  After a grueling 28 days detained under the Mental Health Act he is due to be released.  But as the NHS crumbles and institutional politics brim over the edge, where does his fate lie?

This month the classic contemporary play Blue/Orange comes to Sherman Cymru.  Following success at National Theatre (originally created by Joe Penhall over 10 years ago), Welsh theatre company Canoe Theatre now hopes to wow Welsh audiences with the experience of this fantastic production.  It’s the companies first production; by the looks of things, they’re going to kick off with an almighty bang.

It’s darkly funny.  A daring combination of race, mental health and social structure, the play resonates in a palpable way with the current politics of today.  Christopher’s destiny lies solely in the hands of two doctors; but what’s to do with a man who could well be the illegitimate son of an African dictator?

Director Julia Thomas puts the play simply: “It is honest, funny and well observed. It makes you think but also makes you laugh. It is a contemporary classic that will resonate deeply with audiences.”

Featuring a stellar cast (including Matthew Bulgo of Sleeping Beauties, I’m with the band and Praxis makes perfect) Blue/Orange hits Sherman Cymru on Jan 21 until 23.  If you’re looking for something a bit different, something meaningful or something raw, this is the play for you.

For £12 it’s an absolute bargain.  Even better, under 25s get in half price.  To find out more about the show and tickets, visit the Sherman website.

INTRODUCING… MUTLE MOTHIBE: THE SPOKEN WORD ARTIST WITH A DIFFERENCE..

This Saturday will see the first Take Over Cardiff event, a one-day taster where the city’s major cultural venues are handed over to the brightest young talent.

Image

As soon as I heard about the event, I was determined to get involved.  The event, run by The British Council Wales, hopes to engage young performers with their peers, showcasing new and emerging Welsh and International talent.

Kicking off at 11am at the Senedd, the event will take its audience on a journey through all the cultural hubs of Cardiff, with dance, slam poets, musicians and animators exposing their exceptional talent.

Today I met Mutle Mothibe – a South African spoken word artist – for a coffee and a chat.  Mutle will be performing at 4pm at The National Museum Cardiff… and I can’t wait to see his work first hand!

Mutle’s exceptional talent and humble personality is normally showcased as a member of Word N Sound, a spoken word arts organisation in South Africa. His work is topical, thought-provoking and innovative – and I had a fantastic time chatting to him about his inspiration, plans for Take Over and highlights of the event so far… 

Q: Can you tell me a bit more about your work – what does being a spoken word artist include?

 A: Essentially, it’s all about being a poet. However, I don’t just use the spoken word (despite the title!) – I like to incorporate different mediums of multimedia to keep the whole thing fresh and interesting. I’ve been working with Grass Roots (a charity dedicated to 16 – 25 year olds) as a part of their exhibition this Saturday at the Museum, which has been great. It’s my first time overseas – in South Africa I work as part of Word N Sound, a platform bringing together older practitioners of literature with youths, to encourage and inspire them and to give them a sense of the trajectory of a literary career. So this project is very similar, and I’m really happy to be a part of it.

 Q: What inspired you to become a spoken word artist?

 A: I have loved writing since I was in Grade 5 – back then I used it as a form of escapism and expression. It was a medium to express things I had pent up inside. Throughout University, I began to explore the performance side of the art – since then, I just seemed to become a spoken word artist professionally… 10 years and still going strong!

 Q: What does your work tend to be about?

 A: Mostly where I am in my life – be that relationships, social issues, personal struggles… in a nutshell, the things that are effecting me at that time. That’s why it is such a fantastic form of expression. I try to be really creative with the way I project this. I like to use more than just words; I fuse music, dance and images together to create a representation as a whole. This isn’t typical of spoken word artists at all. With my work, you’ll find contemporary dancers on stage, breakdancers, live singers… anything I can incorporate to make the work special.

 For this project, I have been working with 18 – 25 year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds, and have created a piece using the information I have gained from them. We have been holding work shops with them since Monday, through until this Friday at Grass Roots. On Monday, the kids weren’t as keen to get involved. But then we created a video for them (http://bit.ly/1gr0Rlu), showing them what we wanted to do. We showed them the video, and today the workshop was absolutely packed! It was an incredible sight. That shift was the nicest thing for me so far. It was a bit like coaxing the cat… we had to show them how cool it could be, and then just sat back and watched the crowds build!

 Q: Why did you want to get involved with Take Over Cardiff?

 A: I was chosen by the British Council as part of an exchange programme in South Africa. There’s a really interactive relationship here, in which artists from South Africa come to Wales to showcase their work, and vice versa. I know that the British Council would like to see this event extended in the future, and I am excited to hopefully be a part of that.

 Take Over Cardiff is a great way to connect as an artist with other artists. I am staying with two other poets – Michael from New York City and Martin from Wales. It’s fantastic as we feed off one another, and can exchange any tips or advice. It’s great fun to have three creative individuals under one roof.

 Q: Do you think events like Take Over Cardiff are important to promote the arts to a younger audience?

 A: Absolutely, but also on the flip side they expose younger artists to an older generation! We are holding our showcase at the museum – a place normally associated with older individuals. So it will be exciting to give this audience a taste of the work by young individuals from the community, and literally put the talent right in front of their faces. A lot of the kids we are working with thought you had to pay to visit the museum! So I hope this will also open a lot more doors for them in that respect, introducing them to iconic venues around the city.

 Q: What do you hope to get out of your work with Take Over Cardiff?

 A: Firstly, I hope we can create an opportuny for kids to take advantage of – there are a lot of chances waiting for them, particularly in great places like Grass Roots, that I hope we can raise awareness of. Grass Roots provides a safe place for kids to harness any artistic inspiration they have, as well as offering several free courses (such as sound and engineering)!

 For me , the whole experience – seeing how other artists carry out their work and approach their craft – is a great opportunity. All the connections I have already made makes it very worthwhile! The arts community of Wales is so welcoming, and everyone seems really happy to help. There’s a very communal feel to it all – a very different atmosphere to my work in South Africa.

 Q: What can we expect from Saturday’s showcase?

 A: Lots of surprises! When I left South Africa, I had one idea in my head. Since then, it has changed many times! The show as it is now is much more collaborative – but it is still constantly changing. There will be clips scattered throughout for people to watch, as well as break dancing, contemporary movement, live music and singing. Fundamentally, I just want to expose the audience to everything the kids can do!

 Check out Mutle’s video: http://bit.ly/1gr0Rlu 

To take a look at the work Mutle does with Word N Sound, have a look at their website.

 Find out more about Grass Roots Cardiff here.

 For more information on Takeover Cardiff visit the British Council website.

Follow them on Twitter @bcwales, Like ‘British Council Wales’ on Facebook, Hashtag: #TOC #YoungCurators.

THE MADNESS OF MACBETH..

When it comes to plays, Shakespeare wrote the book.  There is arguably no author that has seen his work re-adapted, re-jigged and repeated quite like him.  From classic interpretations, to modern twists, there’s always something being cast out on stage.

In all honesty, I tend to be more partial to a classic portrayal.  In my eyes the plays are classics, and that’s how they should stay.

However, I’m always keen to see the different, imaginative ways people reconstruct these famous tales.  That’s why I was so excited to see Pontardawe Arts Centre presentation of Macbeth this week at Barry Memorial Centre.

Image

The performance has already had a lot of media attention around South Wales.  Pontardawe Arts Centre are on a mission to bring Shakespeare to a younger audience (never a bad thing!) – so far, it really does seem to be working.  One of their main aims is to show that Shakespeare is still relevant in a tech-obsessed, social media frenzied society.  Great ideas – I was interested to see whether this translated on stage.

Barry Memorial Centre hosts quite a small, intimate theatre.  For this performance in particular, the seating was set out in an even more intimate fashion, cocooning the stage.  I was a bit worried this would be a bit intimidating, but the performance really used it to its full advantage.

The show started with a bang – quite literally.  Explosions shattered the stage as a man dressed in soldiers attire flung himself in front of us, before collapsing to the ground in a heap.  The soldier in question was our very own Macbeth,

It transpired that Pontardawe’s interpretation of the play placed it right in the middle of an Afghanistan battle field.  The Scottish play didn’t even touch the British Isles.  I thought this was a very brave decision, but certainly a wise one.  Such a potent subject in today’s society, I immediately saw them reaching out to new audiences.  Keeping away from the castles and cauldrons, they kept the play real.

After the explosive start, I had myself set for similar effects throughout the rest of the play.  Unfortunately, that’s where they stopped.  But it really didn’t matter – the acting spoke for itself.

For me, Lady Macbeth stole the show – but as my favourite character in the play, that could be a bit bias!  The moments where madness begun to grip its claws into the two mains were when they really begun to shine.  Both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth were so believable.  There raw performance coupled with the almost claustrophobic setting made for uncomfortable viewing – a job well done for such scenes.  You felt as if you were peeking through the key hole at some sordid, twisted event.  It just made the whole thing so much more believable; it made you feel as if it could happen anywhere.

Throughout the whole show, characters would run in from all different parts of the theatre – ducking and diving between chairs, creeping up behind you, appearing as if from no where.  Sirens sounded from behind the seating, soldiers were screaming and shouting from all around.  Again, you felt as if you were really a part of what was going on – you were connected to it.  Had the show been performed in a larger theatre, you just wouldn’t have had the same close, intimidating atmosphere of the battlefield.  The stage was absolutely ideal.

The final battle scene between Macbeth and Macduff was really realistic – so much so I was actually wincing as Macduff seemed to smash Macbeth’s head to the ground!  No swords, just bloody daggers plunging into character’s defeated chests – that and good old fists!  We all edged further and further to the edge of our seats as the fatal moment happened, and Macbeth fell to his death.  A hush.  Silence.  The cast created an incredible atmosphere, and with the final words, the set disappeared into a sinister darkness.

All in all, the show was impressive.  I love what they are trying to do – and what I think they certainly will be able  to do!  They made the play so relevant, and it will appeal to an interesting new audience.  Shakespeare’s stories will always be relevant – power, madness and destruction.  It happens all around us every single day.  Warlords gain more and more power with terrifying repercussions.  We still have madmen around the world in positions of extreme control, with no real means to stop them.

Due to personal taste only, I still prefer a more classic portrayal of the play.  But that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it immensely – more than anything, it was a fantastic feeling to see so many fresh faces around me loving Shakespeare’s work.  A huge well done to the company, and good luck with all the rest of their shows!

Take a look at their work here.