The Divine Trinity behind the TriForce Creative Network (TCN) unveiled the 2016 TriForce Short Film Festival (TFSFF) line up in central London on November 9th, then followed it up by revealing which 4 were selected finalists contending for Best of the Fest the following day.
For the launch, we were treated to the ever-lovely Jimmy Akingbola and newly married Mr and Mrs Ayres – Fraser and Minnie, proudly presenting the treats in store, come December 3rd! First, we were treated to the premiere of Jessica Oyelowo’s debut short film After The Storm, starring the ascendant Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Beyond The Lights, 2014) and Chiké Okonkwo (The Birth Of A Nation, 2016), alongside a rather marvellous newcomer, the director’s son, Caleb Oyelowo.
Caleb spends time with his dad: arm-wrestling, playing football, doing homework – just the two of them. Mum seems a little sidelined, on the outside, but seems slightly concerned as Caleb brushes off her attempts to engage with him. They move about their home which, whilst quite sad, isn’t quite right. Mum and dad are distant, a disconnection has occurred and its painful for both of them. Mum finally gets Caleb to herself and their circumstances unfold. The boy, ready to open up, begins asking questions, revealing the true extent of what this small family has endured. It bleeds out with heartbreaking tenderness and all becomes clear.
After The Storm is a beautifully shot piece of work, with a hugely talented cast, not least the director’s son, showing off his real-life dad’s considerable ‘good acting’ genes. There are some gorgeous linking shots, my favourite being one lingering on gently roiling blue-grey thunder clouds amidst the days of high summer. The performances are highly credible and the story is a tender one of a family dealing with a life-changing event, at times, in complete isolation from each other. The genre is a difficult one to get right, but Oyelowo shows a sure hand in her use of angles and a wonderful scene where two of the characters occupy the same space, but as one moves at accelerated speed, the other is stuck in ‘real time’. The result is a gentle story of what the power of love is capable of. The viewer may, however, feel that whilst the first 10 minutes are handled with deft restraint, the story then tilts ahead into full expository mode in the last five which feels a little rushed. Still, it is a quiet, pensive piece of work which shows great potential.
After a montage reminder of 2015’s TFSSF with direct-to-camera thoughts from attendees like Adrian Lester, Jimmy Akingbola shared the list of films by the 8 judges, including David Harewood, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Michelle Matherson and Nicholas Pinnock.
Seminar 1: “The Right Direction” Supported by Directors UK.
Microshorts – (5 minutes’ duration | scripted or non-scripted)
Believe by Richard Addlesee | Save by Iván Sáinz-Pardo | Harriet And The Matches by Miranda Howard-Williams, featuring Cillian Murphy | Finalist: Take The Chocolate by Shahid Kamal.
Seminar 2: “How to Fund a Feature” Supported by new partner, the BFI.
Untold Stories – (non-scripted, 5-20 minutes’ duration) supported by Shiver (ITV studios)
Living With Monkey by Nina Conti, featuring Tom Conti | The Night Shift by Tayo Odesanya | Ferguson, Missouri by James Arthur Armstrong | Finalist: I Believe In Pink by friend of TBB, Victoria Thomas, a documentary featuring an unusual aspect of Nigerian life.
Seminar 3: “The Diversity Test“ Supported by Shine Media
A Question Of Identity – (5-20 minutes’ duration)
Huey and Louis by Jonny Leigh-Wright, 100% financed by black British backers and featuring Ricky Fearon, Richard Pepple and Speech Debelle | Foot In Mouth by Ella Jones; Hall Of Mirrors by Daniel York | Finalist: The Dead Sea by Stuart Gatt (previous entry My Beautiful White Skin (2015), featuring Sope Disiru, Joan Iyiola, Yasen Atour, Peter Bankole and Harman Singh.
Seminar 4: “Crossing the Void” Supported by Creative Skillset.
Lucky Chicken by Gulliver Moore | The Good Son by Tomisin Adepeju, featuring Gbolahan Obisesan, Grace Fitzgerald, Tomi Ogunjobi, Femi Ogunjobi and Alex Alexander | Lil’ Benny by Che Walker and Nathan Lee Bush, featuring Sarah Ellen Stephens; Finalist: Glow by Alasdair Mackay.
Akingbola and Mr and Mrs Ayres, plus producer of the 2015 Best Of The Fest (Family Reunion) David Kitchen, then took their seats for a short Q&A.
The standard of submissions rises each year, and the Festival seems to be keeping its promise of providing access and assistance with career development. The TCN mission to always be on the lookout for the next ‘in’ to connect creatives with industry, is working. It is supported not just by the prizes of earning career development opportunities (with TCN industry partners) and a cash prize for their next project, but also by the Festival’s panel discussions which take place between the exhibition strands, as well as the chance to network with the participating experts afterwards. TriForce partners really believe in what TCN are doing to nurture more talent and are delighted to be a part of it.
Backing up the promise was the example of the 2013 Best Of The Fest (BOTF) winner, Sunny Boy by Jane Gull. She went on to make the full feature My Feral Heart, which enjoyed its USA release in March 2016 and more recently enjoyed its UK release on November 4th 2016. Directed by a woman and starring the talented Stephen Brandon, who happens to have Down’s Syndrome, the TCN Trinity were obviously delighted with Gold’s achievements, which can be traced directly back to the TFSSF!
Wanting to level the playing field and promote equality of opportunity and artistic exposure, both in front of and behind the camera, the TCN has been doing just that for 13 years, since its inception in 2003 whilst Akingbola and Ayres were working on the Edinburgh Fringe circuit. They constantly ask themselves what is it that the industry needs?
With Akingbola a kid from Canning Town, Ayres a kid from Leicester and Ayres (née Crowe) from Nottingham, they fully represent the gender and racial spectrum of the UK demographic. Once that bigger picture is recognised, the conversation can start and the action can begin.
TBB Favourite Michelle Greenidge (The Intent, 2016, House, The Edinburgh Fringe and The Yard Theatre 2016) applauded the Festival, having had a wonderful experience at the 2014 TFSSF with Sorry, We Don’t Help Darkies by Travis Watson, in which she co-starred with Richie Campbell. She went on to tell Kitchen all about the festival, encouraging him to submit his work. He took her advice, and Family Reunion, starring Trevor Laird, Clint Dyer and Karen Bryson, won him the BOTF 2015! Kitchen said that this underscored the value of word of mouth and was entirely the point of networking at its best. The Trinity were just delighted that a simple conversation had such an outcome from their event.
To the last query about ways in which the platform could be applied to young people (from Afroblog), we learned that this is actually an area considered for expansion by the TCN, inspired by the amazing talent consistently demonstrated in one of the Network’s other platforms – the countrywide MonologueSlam UK competitions, which are open to 11-15 year olds. The advice to ‘watch this space’ next year was plainly made, since plans would be aimed at the still-free-to-submit-to Microshorts section.
The TCN are already in conversation with new partners, the BFI, to push film making opportunities to the under-18s who will be the talent making movies in 10 or 20 years! Removing that financial barrier, accepting movies made on mobile phones, promoting use of filmmaker-friendly apps, working with schools and colleges, the TCN is keen to catch the inception point where hopes, desires and motivation may be otherwise lacking.
Basically, they said, “the TriForce Creative Network and all they do is about partners and relationships, working together, discovering mutual ambitions and figuring out how to make it happen.”
Well, we will continue to support this fantastic creative platform and you can too!
The TriForce Film Festival takes place December 3rd at BAFTA.
For more information on the festival and to buy tickets go to tfsff.com