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Apr 24, 2010

Isolation: The Barbican

by Laura Jenkinson

The 64-minute Isolation is a mixture of telling clips and camera shots as Directors Joseph Bull and Luke Seomore follow ex-soldier Stuart Griffiths around the country interviewing fellow ex-servicemen about their experiences since leaving the army, mostly after injury. Shot in extreme clarity and focus, uncomfortable notes rising as a disconcerting, disconnected voice matter-of-factly lists the detritus of modern life, following with the disturbing fact that ‘it’s easy to disappear among them’. We creep slowly into the subject matter; ex-soldier Stuart Griffiths travels seemingly through the night and into day, interviewing homeless and dispossessed ex-soldiers. Although the film seems predominantly about the isolation of homelessness at first, we soon realise this physical isolation is caused by the mental isolation of the experience of combat, and the lack of help to reintegrate post-service; a major issue and a controversial one.

The film was accompanied tonight by the Director and friends performing the score live. This understandably provoked questions at the Q and A afterwards, where David Modell, whose film Dispatches: Battle Scarred deals with the same issue of disenfranchised ex-servicemen, interviewed Luke Seomore, Joseph Bull, Director of Photography David Procter, and protagonist Stuart Griffiths. When challenged that such an emotionally-leading score was unnecessary in a documentary that was already able to establish an emotional connection with the audience through its visual content, the view of the panel was that they had aimed all along to create something different with their film, not another piece about statistics, but really about involving the viewer in the experience of the characters, which is what Proctor’s sensitive and artistic slow tracking shots and close camera work and the moving, elemental score set out to do, also aiding the narrative arc of Griffith’s journey across Britain to meet with his interviewees.

This was an exciting night of controversy and innovation. The film is expected to tour with the live scores across 15 cinemas UK-wide in the Summer, so that more people can experience this moving event.

Posted in: Blog, Comment, Highlights, LIDF events

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