Blood Cells, a powerful road movie set on the ‘broken and beautiful fringes of contemporary Britain’, plays at the Broadway Cinema in Nottingham on Saturday August 1 at 6pm.
Barry Ward (Jimmy’s Hall) stars as Adam, a man travelling across the UK to see his estranged brother, a decade after their family farm was devastated by foot-and-mouth disease.
Adam has led a rootless life on the fringes of society, but now he is faced with a dilemma: return home to embrace his family and confront his past - or keep wandering.
Xan Brooks of The Guardian described the film as ‘heartfelt and ambitious... (it) confirms its directors as names to watch out for’, while ‘a strikingly haunting film’ which ‘offers a new voice on the British Film landscape’ was the verdict of Mark Adams, writing for Screen International.
Damon Wise of Empire called it ‘compelling... filled with lyrical truth and emotion’,and Cath Clare from Time Out said it was ‘an impressive debut’ with a performance from actress and playwright Hayley Squires that ‘will put her atop every casting director’s list.’
Adam’s journey home sees him pass through towns and lives he has interacted with over the years in a bid to break free from his lonely past. He visits the seaside town of Rhyl and attempts to see former love Lauren (Chloe Pirrie), who is not inclined to have him part of her new life, before heading to Sheffield to see another former lover Hayley (Hayley Squires), who wants him to stay with her, but he cannot adjust to her life as a worker in a sleazy sex club.
Still haunted by his memories of what happened on the farm, Adam finally comes to see that home is the only place to heal his tormented soul.
Directors Joseph Bull and Luke Seomore will be present for a Q&A after the screening.
Luke, who also constructed the film’s eerily beautiful soundtrack, said: “He has been drifting around leading this kind of nomadic existence. It was always the idea to throw Barry as Adam into real life situations and see how people react.”
Lead actor Barry Ward said: “It’s about a young drifter who leaves his family farm after a tragic incident and when we meet him it’s some ten years later.
“I think the locations that we shot in are inherently empty and bereft of people. He exists on the fringes and margins of society. It’s got a lot of the hall marks of a road movie and at the same time it’s very much a character study.
Barry added: “A lot of it was improvised. I think on a practical level the scene might feel it was coming to a natural end I kind of kept probing the other actors and that led to those uncomfortable moments. A lot of movies of this size unfortunately disappear - so it’s great that it’s been brought to a wide audience.”
Co-director Joseph Bull praised the ‘intuitive camerawork’ of cinematographer David Proctor which enabled him to ‘feel what the actor is going to do... That adds a fluidity to their performances.’
Discussing his working relationship with Luke he said: “Our whole friendship is about music and talking and getting excited by music. We were influenced by the 70s American and German road movies – we wanted to capture some of the wonder and uniqueness of Britain.
“The only pressure on us was time. The most stressful part of the shoot was the opening shot (a bonfire of dead livestock was lit prematurely) - so we only one chance to capture this important image.”
Producer Ben Young said: “There’s an unapologetic embrace of landscape, emotion and transcendence that you don’t find in a lot of British cinema, and yet the film has its feet firmly on the ground in that clear and credible way that British film-makers do better than almost anyone else.”
The Third Films production was made as part of the Venice Biennale College: Cinema programme and had its world premiere at Venice 2014.
The film was shot a budget of only £119,000, over a four-week shoot - half in London and half on the road in Essex, Morecambe, rural Lancashire, Birmingham, north Wales and all the motorways in between.
Newcastle-based Third Films are currently flying high with the recent release of Bypass – the eagerly-awaited second feature from director Duane Hopkins.
The company also has two more films ming out this year: Light Years by feature debutante Esther May Campbell, and Mark Cousins’ 6 Desires: DH Lawrence And Sardinia.
Third founder Samm Haillay said: “We’re doing things our way and on our terms, and people seem to want to know more. We’re blown away that people are interested in what we’re doing. It’s about the work we put in and the viewpoint we have on the world around us.”