The Uncertain Kingdom: Short film anthology captures state of the nation
James R | On 28, May 2020
Update: BFI Q&A set for 25th June 2020
20 short films exploring climate change, migration, disability, homelessness and sexuality and more are being released online this June.
The Uncertain Kingdom, a state-of-the-nation anthology from 20 different directors, offers a unique portrait of the UK today. Bringing together artists working across film, TV, theatre, animation, dance and radio, its directors include Hope Dickson Leach (The Levelling), Carol Salter (Almost Heaven), Guy Jenkin (Drop the Dead Donkey, Outnumbered) and Iggy LDN (Black Boys Don’t Cry). Actors David Proud (Marcella), BAFTA Breakthrough Brit Ray Panthaki (Official Secrets, Collette) and Antonia Campbell-Hughes (Bright Star, Cordelia) have also directed films for the project.
The ensemble cast features Alice Lowe (Sightseers, Prevenge), Mark Addy (The Full Monty, Game of Thrones), Steve Evets (Looking for Eric, Apostasy), Hugh Dennis (Outnumbered, Fleabag), Andy Hamilton (What We Did on Our Holiday), Ruth Madeley (Years & Years) and Laurie Davidson (The Good Liar)
The anthology was set to be released in cinemas earlier this year, but following the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent lockdown, the films will instead head straight to digital platforms. The Uncertain Kingdom will be available on BFI Player programmed in two feature-length volumes, which will also be available on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Prime Video and Curzon Home Cinema. Both volumes will be released on 1st June.
The films will still screen in local communities later this year, inspiring and supporting conversation about the subjects explored. Read on below for the full rundown of shorts.
On Thursday 26th June, Jessica Loveland, head of BFI Network, will host a live online Q&A with Georgia Goggin (producer, The Uncertain Kingdom), Ellen Evans (director, Motherland), Ray Panthaki (director, Ernie) and Antonia Campbell Hughes (director, Acre Fall Between).
Director: Ellen Evans (Life in Miniature – Sundance 2019)
Jamaican-born Brits who have been forcibly returned to their “home country” by the UK government describe their experiences.
ACRE FALL BETWEEN
Director: Antonia Campbell-Hughes (Q4L Quest for Love – Galway Film Fleadh 2019)
On a desolate Northern Ireland border, a man begins a desperate search for his family, knowing the future he feared is nigh.
Director: Alison Hargreaves (producer of Inside Bitch at the Royal Court)
A reimagining of the Welsh legend of King Arthur, told by boys growing up in the Valleys with the quest of their own lives ahead of them.
Director: Ray Panthaki (Life Sentence – Best UK Short East End Film Festival 2013)
Under the influence of dangerous right-wing propaganda and his domineering father, a lonely school caretaker looks for connection.
Director: Sophie King (Uneatable – Channel 4)
A marriage is tested when the patriotic husband’s success in a citizenship challenge means he will soon be turned into a swan.
STRONG IS BETTER THAN ANGRY
Director: Hope Dickson Leach (The Levelling)
A fists-bared, kickboxing, bleeding-nose look at who and what makes women angry right now – and what they do about it.
Director: Lab Ky Mo (Automat – Sky Arts 50)
The unexpected arrival of her mother and socialist brother threatens a Conservative candidate’s ambition to become the first female British-Chinese MP.
Director: Rebecca Lloyd-Evans (BAFTA nominated Missing Dad), Co-Director: Alex Fry
The return of the Goddess Astarte triggers an exploration of female sexuality through the personal fantasies of three women.
WE ARE NOT THE PROBLEM
Director: Dominika Ozynska (The Law of the Sea – Random Acts)
Seeing immigration from the perspective of a migrant, a Polish man describes what his countrymen people have contributed to the UK.
Director: Lanre Malaolu (Elephant in the Room – Roundhouse 2019)
Exploring the conversation black people face when communicating their racial experience to white partners through a dynamic fusion of dance and dialogue.
Director: Iggy LDN (Black Boys Don’t Cry)
In a rallying cry of protest, a young woman exposes the insidious ways brands use social media to disguise their true intentions.
Director: Jason Wingard (BIFA winning director of In Another Life and Eaten by Lions)
A modern parable about a woman who sees a homeless man literally sinking into the pavement and her attempts to save him in an indifferent world.
Director: Stroma Cairns (If You Knew – Jury Special Commendation BFI LFF 2019)
In the heat of a community gym’s sauna, a disparate group of Londoners gather nightly to open up about community, connection and faith.
ISAAC AND THE RAM
Director: Jason Bradbury (Alone My Friend – Cannes Straight8 2018)
Club security guard and former skinhead Hank reluctantly offers homeless gay teenager Isaac a place to stay for one tense night.
Director: Carol Salter (BIFA-winning Almost Heaven)
In the coastal towns of North West England, dedicated volunteers hand out kindness and food to help those left behind.
DEATH MEETS LISOLETTE
Director: Guy Jenkin (What We Did on Our Holiday)
After her neighbours become suddenly immortal, a young girl finds the Grim Reaper locked in a barn and amenable to making a deal for his freedom.
Director: David Proud
An unemployed disabled actress gets a job advising an obnoxious up-and-coming star how to perform a disability for his latest role.
BORROWED FROM OUR CHILDREN
Director: Leon Oldstrong (That’s Not Ours – LSFF 2019)
A series of vignettes celebrating love, community, protest and joy to remind us that though our hope may diminish it is reborn in our children.
WHAT’S IN A NAME
Director: Runyararo Mapfumo (Dawn in the Dark – LFF 2019)
A handful of Brits explore the challenges they’ve encountered with their non-Western names and celebrate how their names express who they are.
THE LIFE TREE
Director: Paul Frankl (Roxanne – Flickers Rhode Island 2015)
The discovery of a healing tree brings hope to a Bolivian migrant whose son is close to death from plastic pollution.