A state-of-Brexit-Britain portmanteau film is exactly the kind of well-meaning project that could result in a lot of on-the-nose cringeworthiness. But ‘The Uncertain Kingdom’, a collection of 20 shorts made by 20 different filmmaking teams (each with a budget of £10,000), is a largely brilliant, subtle and multifaceted group of timely films.
Comprised of documentaries, fictional dramas, animations and a smattering of comedy (ten of the total 20 were shown at the press viewing), the collective aim of ‘The Uncertain Kingdom’ is to give a fair and unjudgmental hearing to the wildly different experiences of UK citizens, from second-generation immigrants in the South East connecting with their heritage through their names, to food bank users in a freezing, dilapidated Blackpool.
Highlights include Siân Docksey and Sophie King’s ‘Swan’, a funny slice of satire about an Englishman who voluntarily takes the ‘advanced citizenship test’ and, after passing with flying colours, is granted the honour of being turned into a stunning white swan. Equally, Paul Frankl’s fable-like story of a Bolivian mother trying to save her son’s life with the help of a mystical tree is a compelling bit of magic realism.
But the best are ‘Verisimilitude’ (written by Justin Edgar), in which the brilliant Ruth Madeley plays Bella, an actress and wheelchair user employed to tutor a pretentious, non-disabled actor who has to perform as a disabled character on screen, and Hope Dickson Leach’s ‘Strong is Better Than Angry’ about a female kickboxing group literally sucker punching the Tories. Lovely.
Available on Curzon Home Cinema, BFI Player and iTunes on Mon Jun 1.