Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Film Review: How To Be Human

The refugee crisis gets a sci fi twist as we are reminded "How To Be Human"....

Last year I watched in horrified silence as the refugee crisis deepened in Syria and the camps were torn down in Calais. This isn't a political issue it is a humanitarian disaster and yet the media coverage seemed to focus almost entirely on the terrorist threat posed and not the devastation caused by many innocent families ripped from their homes. We are part of a global community that should be crying out as one against such scenes and yet it seems we have grown cold in the face of intense pain and suffering. Yes of course the issues raised ARE concerns and the growing number of asylum seekers does threaten to over balance countries that don't have adequate checks in place. But surely these points and, by extension, the media coverage should represent the human element of this global issue. People, children are dying and yet we are protected from this uncomfortable truth by a media that seems at best to be selective on the images and stories it conveys. What does it mean to be human? What happens if our society turns its back on emotion and aligns itself with cold and unfeeling fact? These are the issues that are placed at the very heart of the conceptual short film How To Be Human, a film which came to my attention as the refugee crisis was at its peak. 

How To Be Human received its Premiere at Sci-Fi-London last week and I was excited to see how these weighty but relevant messages would be conveyed in a science fiction setting. The opening scenes of a devastated London skyline set the backdrop to a country that has been ravaged by some unnameable apocalyptic catastrophe. Marc Hutchings has created a visual effects landscape that stands proudly against anything that Hollywood can throw at it. Here is proof, if any were needed, that viewing an Independent Film doesn't mean a drop in standards and the devastation of the London skyline is simply astounding. Unlike recent Hollywood blockbusters How To Be Human also packs a powerful and engaging story line which does not lose its pace throughout the Shorts duration. Darren Rapier's writing is as sharp and on point as his surname alludes to and right from the outset combines with the films arresting imagery to create a world that seems so otherworldly but at the same time terribly familiar. Here to is brilliant and even handed direction from Bruno Centofanti who so effectively guides through this nightmarish world that we are effortlessly transported from the Rich Mix Cinema in London to a Capital devastated by fiery destruction and death. 

Emotion has been outlawed and those showing even the slightest flicker of feeling have been exiled into disparate refugee camps outside huge super cities that are policed by drones. How To Be Human has elements of Judge Dredd and alludes to 1984 without feeling like it is a copy. There is a new and innovative feel to the short which, when placed against the backdrop of current global events, feels like a story that is screamingly relevant. We are introduced to the unemotional and almost robotic Adelphe (the BAFTA award winning Sophie Kennedy Clarke) who is leading the slightly more rebellious and feeling driven Kimi (Louise Salter) to a refugee camp. The reasons why they are being prepared for infiltration into a society which sees emotion as dangerous is unclear but there is purpose in the preparation. Sophie Kennedy Clarke is like able and engagingly effective as Adelphe and provides a perfect partner to Louise Salter's more questioning Kimi. How To Be Human delivers a powerful sucker punch to any that feel the nature of humanity can be found in any direction that involves a move away from community. Without being preachy or patronising the film simply shows us what lies in wait for humanity that sheds emotion like an unwanted husk and challenges us to look anew at the suffering of our fellow homo sapiens with a lot more empathy.

What can we do when we see the suffering of the innocent and the bereaved? We can care and and we can refuse to be silenced even when our leaders have forgotten How To Be Human! 

How To Be Human is at the early stages of development into a full feature which is a project that grows more relevant and essential in 2017. Creative film makers strive to make a difference and to challenge the status quo. How To Be Human achieves both with such a powerful resonance that the forthcoming feature is an exciting prospect. 

You can keep up to date with How To Be Human on Facebook here and on Twitter @HTBHfilm

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