Hyde Park Picks
Friendly film recommendations from your local indie cinema.
Image for /storage/thumbnails/4b45aca6b9bb6a3e5083c2e0d40bb0cd.jpg
28th November 2020

Wolfwalkers

Available for 24hrs from 6pm today (Sat 28th Nov), our friends at Leeds Film Festival have a very exciting preview of Wolfwalkers (PG, 2020, 103min) – the latest film from Oscar-nominated animation studio Cartoon Saloon (The Secret of Kells, Song of the Sea).

Wolfwalkers tells the story of a magical, unlikely friendship between two girls in 17th-century Ireland. A young apprentice hunter and her father journey to Ireland to help wipe out the last wolf pack. But everything changes when she befriends a free-spirited girl from a mysterious tribe rumoured to transform into wolves by night.

If its predecessors are anything to go by, this film will be a dazzling visual feast, rich with imagination, mystery and wonder, dealing with prevalent issues from today by exploring Celtic myths and tales from the past.

You can stream Wolfwalkers via the festival's Leeds Film Player for £6. It is also included in their £30 Fanomenon pass, along with other fantastical feature delights!

Image for /storage/thumbnails/0fc923396c64791155015bab49723dc8.jpg
25th November 2020

Lovers Rock

“In Lovers Rock, Black joy exists without restraint nor tragedy”

Kambole Campbell’s piece for i-D about the second film in Steve McQueen’s incredible Small Axe series, is a beautiful piece of writing that celebrates the unique facets of Lovers Rock as a standalone work while also helping us place it within a whole.

Great film writing isn’t just a means to get bums on seats, it’s a tool to help the audience understand what they’re seeing or what they’ve seen, to celebrate and help appreciate an artist’s vision.

Lovers Rock is one of our favourite films of this year and we can’t wait to see where it and the whole Small Axe series will come to sit in the story of film going forwards. In the meantime, thank you to Kambole Campbell for your words.

You can find the review for i-D here and Lovers Rock is currently available to watch on BBC iPlayer along with Mangrove, the first part in the Small Axe series. Part three, Red, White and Blue, will be released on Sunday at 9pm.

Image for /storage/thumbnails/85f98805a91859035c81d7088e504b6e.jpg
24th November 2020

Sapphire

Last month, as part of Black History Month, author and film scholar Josiah Howard shared with us an exclusive new essay on Basil Dearden’s 1959 film Sapphire (UK, 92mins, PG).

For today’s pick we wanted to revisit that film and re-share Howard’s fantastic essay.

From the director of The Smallest Show on Earth (1957) and Victim (1961), Sapphire tells the story of Chief Inspector Hazard and his bigoted Inspector as they unravel the mystery of Sapphire, a young student found murdered on Hampstead Heath.

Sapphire is a fascinating insight into prejudice in multi-cultural London just as it was on the cusp of the more permissive 1960s.

If you want to know more you can rent the film for £3.50 from the BFI Player and read Josiah Howard’s essay on the Leeds Inspired blog.

Image for /storage/thumbnails/a1faf5cb2465adfe0bd160ec95a8ec07.jpg
23rd November 2020

Perfect 10

Today’s Pick is Perfect 10 – part of the British Film Premiere season from BBC Film and the BFI.

The debut coming-of-age tale from Scottish director Eva Riley explores the delicate yet complex relationship between teenage gymnast Leigh and her newly discovered older half-brother Joe. Her brother introduces her to an exhilarating new underground world which brings excitement and attention but also risks her gymnastic dreams.

This pertinently vulnerable film is lit up by the first-time raw performances of the sibling protagonists, which hooks in audiences immediately. The glorious imagery and the endearing sensitive portrayal of the core relationship is delicately balanced with the gritty sensibilities of social realism. Audiences are assured to be equally mesmerised through the perfect mixture of tension and sentiment.

Perfect 10 is available to watch via the BBC iPlayer for the next 11 months.

A special introduction to the film, from writer and critic Leila Latif, is also available here.

Image for /storage/thumbnails/8bf5a1990535a8154f9c46855abb69f2.jpg
22nd November 2020

Shoplifters

Who remembers Obama’s amazing Favourite Movies of 2018 list? It had so many brilliant films – from outstanding American indies like Leave No Trace and The Rider, to foreign language triumphs like Burning and Roma.

Many of the films on the list have already been featured as Hyde Park Picks throughout this year. And tonight we're recommending another – Koreeda’s Palme d'Or winner, Shoplifters.

Full of heartfelt emotion and characters of unassuming depth, this superb family-drama from legendary Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda (Like Father, Like Son, Our Little Sister) is available to stream for free on Channel 4 until 16th December.

And here's the full list of Obama's Favourite Films of 2018:

  1. Annihilation
  2. Black Panther
  3. BlacKkKlansman
  4. Blindspotting
  5. Burning
  6. The Death of Stalin
  7. Eighth Grade
  8. If Beale Street Could Talk
  9. Leave No Trace
  10. Minding the Gap
  11. The Rider
  12. Roma
  13. Shoplifters
  14. Support the Girls
  15. Won’t You Be My Neighbour
Image for /storage/thumbnails/86acd8e4b279d10f9080eb281789a75f.jpg
21st November 2020

Bella

There’s plenty to be delighted by in this year’s Leeds International Film Festival programme but for today’s #HydeParkPick we wanted to focus on the rich and varied short film selection. On long days where digital meeting after digital meeting and the strange state of working from home have taken their toll, these bite sized bursts of narrative have been a perfect route into a rich world of filmic delight. 

Yesterday the Leeds Short Film Awards winners were all announced and you can find that full list along with the statements from the Juries on their decisions here.

For tonight’s Pick we thought we’d highlight one of our favourite films in the Louis le Prince International Short Film Competition, Bella (2020, Greece, directed by Thelyia Petraki).

Based on the letters Anthi sends to her husband while he is working abroad between 1986-1987, Bella is an incredibly evocative period piece set just before the fall of State Socialism at the end of the Cold War.

Shifting fluidly between observations about the children as they grow and the changing state of her country at a point of major upheaval, Bella is a beautiful balancing act between the personal and the political. While her letters may be written to her husband, in the way Petraki has chosen to only share Anthi’s side of the exchange there is something desperately lonely and isolated in the film which resonates with the situation we find ourselves in now in 2020, witness to great change and trauma but unable to touch, to connect.

You can view Bella in the programme Family Unties: International Short Film Competition 6, available from the Leeds Film Player up to the 30th November for £3. 

Image for /storage/thumbnails/3b19bd8ae814af3db8ffa5daa02d0272.jpg
20th November 2020

Apostasy

Director, Daniel Kokotajlo’s exploration of a Jehovah’s Witness family in crisis has been praised by the faithful and apostate alike – and is today's film recommendation.

Single mum, Ivanna (Siobhan Finneran), is struggling to raise her two daughters, Luisa (Bronwyn James) and Alex (Molly Wright), in a religion that is publicly mocked and often misunderstood. When the eldest daughter, Luisa, is disfellowshipped (a kind of excommunication), her mother and sister are expected to cut ties with her unless she chooses to return to the faith.

The family-torn-apart is a story often told when Jehovah’s witnesses are discussed, and it would be easy for Kokotajlo (a former Jehovah’s Witness himself) to scapegoat the overbearing mother or the rebellious daughter, but these tropes are thankfully avoided. Instead, each of the three women are sympathetically portrayed, with the actors given the time and space needed to really explore the subtleties and nuance of their characters.

There is a stark and brutal look to the film, with cinematographer Adam Scarth focusing the viewer on the individual rather than the congregation. Often using thin, fluorescent lighting and a muted colour palate, the presentation speaks to the ascetic and essentially insular nature of life in the faith. In fact, when Apostasy screened at Hyde Park Picture House, some of our more seasoned regulars couldn’t help but point out the technical failings of the film’s lighting, while the Jehovah’s Witnesses in attendance (both current and former) praised its authentic look.

With no easy answers and no sugar coatings, Apostasy is a relentless depiction of the prices paid in pursuit of a life without compromise.

You can watch the film on BBC iPlayer, until Monday 23rd November – part of the British Film Premiere season from BBC Film and the BFI.