Screening ‘Victoria & Abdul’: Community Comment

Sophie faceLast week Damaris Media gathered together community leaders and influencers for a sneak preview of Victoria & Abdul, a new historical drama coming to cinemas 15th September.

The film, which stars Judi Dench and Ali Fazal, tells the true story of an elderly Queen Victoria’s friendship with her Indian aide Abdul Karim. It’s gently comedic, but also an insightful look at the loneliness which can sometimes accompany old age, and the way that human connection can restore life and dignity.

We invited representatives of charities like the SamariAge UK LLL Logo RGBtans, Rotary and Age
Action Alliance – as well as luminaries such as Dame Jenni Murray and former Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman – to see what they made of the film. I spoke to John Norley, CEO of Age UK Medway, about the challenges he sees in the community he works with, and how Victoria & Abdul might speak to
these issues.

Continue reading Screening ‘Victoria & Abdul’: Community Comment

A closer look at…Dunkirk

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The Scoop

Dunkirk, 1940. Allied soldiers, surrounded by the German army, have retreated to the beaches and desperately await evacuation.

On the ground, a young soldier (Fionn Whitehead) survives the slaughter of his unit and takes desperate measures to get on the next boat out. But his ordeal is only just beginning.

In the air, a daring pilot (Tom Hardy) risks his own life to take out the German bombers who are killing the men below.

And at sea, a civilian (Mark Rylance) in his own small boat sets out to do what little he can to bring the stranded army home.

Continue reading A closer look at…Dunkirk

A closer look at… The Big Sick

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The Scoop

When stand-up comedian Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) is heckled by graduate student Emily (Zoe Kazan) at one of his shows, it leads to a flirtation, which leads to a one-night stand – and then, unexpectedly, to something more serious. But their blossoming relationship is about to hit two major roadblocks.

The first is Kumail’s parents, first-generation Pakistani immigrants who dote on their son but are determined that he will have a traditional arranged marriage. And the second is a mysterious illness which lands Emily in hospital, in a medically induced coma. As he waits anxiously by her side and wrestles with his doubts about their relationship, Kumail forms a bond with her parents (Ray Romano and Holly Hunter) which will change everything.

Continue reading A closer look at… The Big Sick

Screening ‘The Shack’: Community comment

Sophie faceEarlier this year we supported the release of The Shack, an adaptation of the bestselling book starring Octavia Spencer and Sam Worthington. We knew that because of its unusual approach to exploring questions around faith and suffering, this film would particularly resonate with the UK church community.

‘Damaris were passionate about sharing the film effectively and as widely as possible throughout the UK church community, covering all denominations.  I found them to be very creative with their ideas, to have a great network of relationships, and to be reliable and efficient at introducing the film to leaders and laity alike.’ – The Shack director Stuart Hazeldine

Lots of people seized the opportunity to see The Shack in cinemas, and we had a great response to our resources. In Reading, Ann and Keith Wilson brought together about 150 people from their Baptist church community and beyond to watch the film and talk about it afterwards – I asked Ann how this came about.

‘As a Union of 2000 churches, Baptists Together live and breathe engaging with their local communities. To enable this, they need good support and excellent resources. Damaris, through their film resources have been helping us brilliantly for a long time. Enabling local churches to put on their own screening of The Shack is a significant and exciting development in that equipping.’ – Mike Lowe, Baptists Together 

Continue reading Screening ‘The Shack’: Community comment

A closer look at… The Kings of Summer

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The Scoop

Joe (Nick Robinson) is sick of putting up with the moods of his distant, widowed father (Nick Offerman). Meanwhile, Joe’s best friend Patrick (Gabriel Basso) is being driven round the bend by his own doting parents, the Keenans (Megan Mullally and Marc Evan Jackson). The two teenagers make a pact: they’ll run away and build their own house deep in the woods, make their own rules, and live their own lives. Somehow, diminutive oddball Biaggio (Moises Arias) ends up tagging along with them.

For a while, everything seems perfect as the three boys enjoy their freedom – though their attempts to live off the land leave something to be desired. But then Joe invites Kelly (Erin Moriarty), the girl with whom he’s infatuated, into their secret idyll, and there’s trouble in paradise.

Continue reading A closer look at… The Kings of Summer

A closer look at… Baby Driver

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The Scoop

Baby (Ansel Elgort) has a talent. As long as he’s plugged in to a playlist on one of his many iPods, blocking out the tinnitus that’s been ringing in his ears since childhood, he’s the best getaway driver in town.

Again and again he’s roped into bank robberies by Doc (Kevin Spacey), a crime lord to whom he owes a longstanding debt. This means working with the unsavoury characters in Doc’s constantly rotating crew, including unstable Batts (Jamie Foxx) and ruthless lovers Buddy (Jon Hamm) and Darling (Eliza Gonzalez).

What Baby really wants is to leave this all behind, and drive off into the sunset with diner waitress Debora (Lily James).  But getting out of Doc’s clutches could be the hardest and most costly escape of his life.

Continue reading A closer look at… Baby Driver

‘Summer in the Forest’ Companion Booklet

Imagine sitting down for a meal with someone different to you.

 Something stopped you coming here before. The expectation of awkward silence, perhaps. The suspicion that your worst fears about the other person might be confirmed. Your discomfort with the unknown.  

 But as you begin to look at each other, to eat together, something shifts. You talk about everyday things, and begin to enjoy each other’s company. A joke catches you off-guard, and you start to laugh. You forget yourself.

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Download the free companion booklet

Life-affirming new documentary Summer in the Forest is in cinemas and online June 23. This poetic film follows the life of the L’Arche community in Trosly, France, where people with learning disabilities and those who support them have found what it truly means to be human.

This companion booklet introduces the stars of the film, and the transforming wisdom of Jean Vanier, who founded the L’Arche movement.

More at summerintheforest.com

Summer by the sea: A journey into L’Arche Bognor (part 2)

Sophie faceAs chronicled in part 1 of this post, I recently spent time with the L’Arche community in Bognor Regis, as part of creating a special resource for new documentary Summer in the Forest.

Hugh Campkin is the community leader at Bognor, and I spoke to him about the joys and challenges of this unique role.

Hugh Campkin (left) with a core member at L'Arche Bognor
Hugh Campkin (left) with a core member at L’Arche Bognor

Continue reading Summer by the sea: A journey into L’Arche Bognor (part 2)

Summer by the sea: A journey into L’Arche Bognor (part 1)

Sophie faceWe couldn’t be more pleased and proud to be supporting the release of Summer in the Forest, a beautiful and life-affirming documentary which will be released in cinemas and on V-O-D 23rd June.

The film (directed by Randall Wright) follows Philippe, Michel, Andre and Patrick, who were locked away and forgotten in violent asylums until the 1960s, when the young philosopher Jean Vanier took a stand and secured their release. Together they created L’Arche Trosly-Breuil, a community at the edge of a beautiful forest near Paris. A quiet revolution was born.

L’Arche (which now has 151 Communities in 37 countries) has a vision for a world where people with learning disabilities and their carers can discover a fuller life together. As part of the process of creating a companion booklet to go alongside Summer in the Forest, I paid a visit to the L’Arche Community closest to where Damaris Media is based: L’Arche Bognor Regis, on the South coast a short distance from the sea.

Continue reading Summer by the sea: A journey into L’Arche Bognor (part 1)

A closer look at… Inside Llewyn Davis

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The Scoop

Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is a loser. Though a talented musician, he just can’t seem to catch a break, drifting through the 1960s New York folk scene and missing every opportunity by inches. He sleeps on a different sofa every night, relying on favours and luck to get by. But Llewyn seems to deflect luck almost intentionally.

Now winter is closing in, he’s got no money in his pocket, and a fling with Jean (Carey Mulligan) – wife of his friend Jim (Justin Timberlake) – may have resulted in a pregnancy. The singer’s shambling odyssey is punctuated by sporadic encounters with a ginger cat, which seems to know something he doesn’t.

Continue reading A closer look at… Inside Llewyn Davis