Film Festivals..

Over the past three years, I think I’ve sent considerably more screening DVDs than I have Christmas cards. Running, now autonomously, in the background of my life is the seemingly endless process of filling out submission forms for film festivals and sending off the relevant screening media for them. In fact, since White Caps was finished in 2010, the 3-minute extract “Stronger” has been screened and broadcast at over 50 different festivals in 20 different countries. But for all the air-miles it’s clocked up, I’ve never once been able to be there to see it being screened. This week, though, I’ve finally got the chance. Invited as “guest of honor” to the Tanz Film Festival, in Luzern, Switzerland, I went to present an evening of films – some of the early short films I made and a specially-edited version of White Caps – the first time all the film segments had been shown together as a film work.


As I sat in the cinema, I realised just how difficult it is actually to sit through an hour of your own films in the company of others. Every edit that feels slightly too long, that shot which we never could get quite right, or the ‘salvation cut’, which makes the best of a badly filmed section, all passing before your eyes accompanied by reams of sweat and heart palpitations. When we watch a film, as the audience we’re used to perfection, and we expect it, too. The organic faults that make live theatre ‘alive’ don’t find such easy acceptance with a cinema audience, and everything that falls shy of perfection seems to stand out. I think the other thing which makes it even harder, sitting there as the director, is the knowledge that I’ve personally subjected the entire audience to my viewpoint on the whole story. In film, every shot and cut makes a decision for the audience, showing them exactly what to look at and for precisely how long – a choice which is normally left to the audience in a theatre. All in all, it made me feel quite responsible for everyone’s experience whilst sitting amongst them.


After what seemed like eons, it was all over and I had a chance to speak with the festival organizers and some audience members about the work. It was great to talk with them about the process, and to hear their responses to the films. It informed me, and reaffirmed some of the errors and shortfalls of my earlier work, whilst also inspiring and instilling in me the confidence to move forward. It was useful and rewarding to go and see my films, but it certainly wasn’t quite as easy as it might at first sound: to just fly in and sit through a few films…


Film Festival

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About Wilkie Branson

Wilkie Branson is an interdisciplinary artist and, as co-director of the project based Champloo Dance Company, an associate company at the Bristol Old Vic. Self taught in both dance and film, which form the main focus of his work, the roots of his practice are in BBoying. Wilkie’s dance style has developed into a unique fusion, with expression, accessibility and integrity at it’s heart. His most recent works, White Caps and Stronger are currently touring internationally in Europe, North America and Asia. Awarded the Arts Foundation Choreographic Fellowship in 2012, Wilkie is also a member of the Sadler’s Wells Summer University. Photo: Chris Nash Upcoming shows: White Caps - York Theatre Royal / Varmints - Sally Cookson & Wilkie Branson / BOING! review - The Independent

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