Going Native

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Three countries. Three teenagers. One average, life-altering day.

Natives is a new play currently on at the Southwark Playhouse in London. We’re used to working with film companies, but we were intrigued when Boundless Theatre, the company behind Natives, asked us if we’d consider creating resources for school groups based on the play.

I loved Glenn Waldron’s script, which takes an empathic and generous stance towards its teen protagonists. It sensitively explores what it means to be a ‘digital native’ – the quest for popularity, the warped intimacy,  the intrusions of violence, the potential for real connection. There was plenty to bite into when it came to putting together this worksheet for GCSE and A-Level drama groups.

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A few of us from the Damaris Media team were lucky enough to see Natives in performance earlier this week. The production – which stars Ella Purnell, Fionn Whitehead and Manish Gandhi – has already been getting rave reviews from the likes of The Guardian, The Metro and Theatre Full Stop, and it definitely lives up to all of this hype.

The action plaScreen Shot 2017-04-04 at 15.24.41ys out in a small, intimate performance space, on a mostly bare stage which is illuminated by digital projections. It’s up to the three young leads to carry the story, which concerns three teenagers in different parts of the globe who must wrestle with the intersection between their digital lives and their ‘real’ ones. All three are excellent, but Purnell is the standout – recognisable from film roles in the likes of Never Let Me Go and Maleficent, she has a charismatic presence, funny, sharp and poignant by turns.

The 90-minute running time zips past, building to a powerful finale which posits a tentative hope for the future of the digital generation. That’s what’s so refreshing about Natives: it isn’t a critique of young people so much as the older generation who have bequeathed them a broken world.

‘Where are the grown-ups to do something, where are the grown-ups in this story?’

The play will hopefully have a long life both in performance (Boundless are planning to tour it) and in the classroom, where it could inspire teenagers to recognise the world-changing power they hold in their hands.

Find out more and book tickets

29 Mar – 22 Apr 2017  
By Glenn Waldron
Directed by Rob Drummer
At Southwark Playhouse

Sweet Dreams are made of these

SWEET_DREAMS_NEW QUAD_online copy

Sophie faceLast night we screened Fai bei sogni (or Sweet Dreams), the new film from director Marco Bellochio, at the beautiful Hospital Club in Covent Garden. We invited a group of people involved in various aspects of Italian life in the UK, including lecturers, scientists, and representatives from the Italian embassy and the Italian Chamber of Commerce.

Sweet Dreams follows the story of Massimo (Nicolò Cabras), a sensitive and introverted young boy who loses his beloved mother (Barbara Ronchi) in a sudden tragedy. Drawing on his rich fantasy life to help him cope, Massimo grows up into a withdrawn man (Valerio Mastandrea) who is unable to make real emotional connections. 

Continue reading Sweet Dreams are made of these

A closer look at… Hector and the Search for Happiness

Note: Guides from our archive are in a slightly different format and have been edited here to make them more user-friendly. This guide was written by Rachel Helen Smith.

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Once upon a time there was a young man called Hector (Simon Pegg). He lived a neat and tidy life with his girlfriend Clare (Rosamund Pike), who tied his ties, made his lunch and kept his sock drawer in order. Hector worked as a psychiatrist, listening patiently to his patients’ tales of trauma, whilst doodling in his notebook and dreaming of another life.

One day, Hector snaps. He cannot live as a fraud any longer, offering meaningless advice to his patients when he himself has never really experienced life. He sets off alone on a cross-continental adventure in the hope of discovering the route to true happiness. Those he meets along the way offer snippets of wisdom that he jots down in his notebook, but it is only once he has faced up to the emotions of his own past and his fears of the future that Hector can truly embrace happiness for his own life in the present moment.

Continue reading A closer look at… Hector and the Search for Happiness

A closer look at… Joy

© 20th Century Fox, 2016.
© 20th Century Fox, 2016.

Joy is rated 12 for infrequent strong language

Warning: Contains plot spoilers

The Scoop –  Though not as riotously entertaining as David O. Russel’s best work, Joy nevertheless provides a great showcase for Jennifer Lawrence as a truly inspirational woman.

Joy (Jennifer Lawrence) was a creative, vivacious, high-achieving child. But somewhere along the line, life stole her spark. Her parents’ divorce, a failed marriage to Tony (Edgar Ramirez), caring for two children, trying to hold down a job, and managing the chaos that her mother (Virginia Madsen), father (Robert De Niro) and half-sister (Elisabeth Rohm) throw her way, have all caused Joy to sideline her own dreams.

Her grandmother Mimi (Diane Ladd) is determined to see Joy rise and take her place as matriarch and provider for the family. And when Joy hits on an ingenious design for a self-wringing mop, it could be the key to unleashing her buried potential.

Continue reading A closer look at… Joy

The Hunger Games and Generation K

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Ever heard of ‘Generation K’? No, I hadn’t either, until the upcoming release of the final Hunger Games film resulted in a spate of articles about the teenagers who have grown up with heroine Katniss Everdeen.

The term has been coined by economist and academic Noreena Hertz, who did a study of more than a thousand British and American teenage girls to find out about their hopes and fears for the future. The results were fairly alarming.

I discovered that unlike those currently aged between 20 and 30, the “Yes we can” generation, who grew up believing the world was their oyster, for Generation K the world is less oyster, more Hobbesian nightmare. This is the generation who’ve had Al Qaeda piped into their living rooms and smartphones and seen their parents and other loved ones lose their jobs. A generation for whom there are disturbing echoes of the dystopian landscape Katniss encounters in The Hunger Games’ District 12. Unequal, violent, hard.

Continue reading The Hunger Games and Generation K

We’re Back!

And this time, it's personal
And this time, it’s personal

For years, the Damaris Film Blog has been providing discussion guides on the latest cinema releases. And now, we’re excited to be back – refreshed, renewed, revitalised. Redesigned. Raring to go.

By popular demand, we’ve started republishing our back-catalogue of guides. There’s already something for everyone, from animated mega-hit Frozen to teen tearjerker The Fault in Our Stars to the mind-bending Interstellar. Do shout if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on the site – we’ll be getting more old stuff online very soon.

But enough of the old. What about the new? Your editor, Sophie, can’t wait to get back to the cinema and catch up with the best current releases. In the coming weeks, expect new-style discussion guides, as well as a whole lot of other film-related musings and fun.


I get lonely if no-one talks to me. Tweet @damarismedia or email [email protected] I’d love to hear what you liked about the old Damaris Film Blog, and what you’d like to see us doing in the future.

A closer look at… Edge of Tomorrow

Note: Guides from our archive are in a slightly different format and have been edited here to make them more user-friendly. This guide was written by Hannah Rowe.

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Edge of Tomorrow is rated 12 for moderate violence, threat, infrequent strong language. The film is available on DVD.

The Scoop

An alien race known as the Mimics are about to conquer the world, starting with Europe. Lieutenant Colonel Bill Cage (Tom Cruise) is a cowardly army marketing man who finds himself unceremoniously sent to the front line to fight. Despite the fact that he kills a rare Alpha, he dies within minutes. Then he awakens again, back at the beginning of the same day. Somehow, the Alpha has condemned him to live this day over and over again, fighting and dying in an endless loop.

There is only one person who seems to understand what is going on. Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), known as the Angel of Verdun, is a celebrated Special Forces warrior. She trains Bill so that every day he is able to fight more skilfully. Together, they plan to use his unique power to beat the invaders. But for it to work, Bill will have to ensure that he does one thing every single day: die.

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