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Review of the Year 2018: Top 25 Film

Film, all things considered, is a pretty good medium. Over the past 12 months we’ve covered all sorts, from documentaries detailing the daily lives of London’s North Korean immigrant community to a chef-heavy music video by the much-loved rapper Loyle Carner. We like film. And you evidently do, too, if this Top 25 film-related It’s Nice That pieces from 2018 is anything to go by.

  • Rudeboy-film-itsnicethat-list Work / Film Rudeboy: The Story of Trojan Records documents the origins of Jamaican and British youth culture

    Premiering at the 62nd BFI London Film Festival, Rudeboy: The Story of Trojan Records documents the emerging and ongoing love affair between Jamaican music and British youth culture. Produced by BMG and Pulse Films, the film follows the inception of one of the most iconic record labels in history, Trojan Records. The label is instrumental in introducing reggae and other Jamaican-inspired music genres to mainstream culture. Securing a number of major UK chart hits including music by Tony Tribe, Desmond Dekker and The Maytals, Trojan Records helped define a monumental movement in British culture; re-shaping the cultural landscape into the multicultural society that we still live in today.

    Jyni Ong
  • Roxy-rezvany-film-itsnicethat-list Work / Film Little Pyongyang asks you to "leave behind everything you think you know" about North Korea

    The rhetoric surrounding North Korea is jarring, to say the least. British and American coverage of the country tends to focus on the perceived oddities of Kim Jong-Un, or the atrocities of the nation’s regimes and nuclear programmes. Seldom do we hear from North Korean civilians themselves, and when we do, we tend to concentrate on tales of plight. Roxy Rezvany’s new short film Little Pyongyang voices frustration with that mode of expression. Not just a North Korean story, the film is an exploration of the nature of documentary storytelling itself, and the way design can empower and elevate it.

    Ruby Boddington
  • Mr-bingo-advent-calendar-illustration-itsnicethat-03 Work / Film New film documents the making of Mr Bingo’s alternative 2018 advent calendar

    For us at It’s Nice That, the annual release of Mr Bingo’s playful and irreverent advent calendar is always an early harbinger of the festive season. The London-based artist has been making them since 2016 so this year’s is the third in the series – and it’s a cracker. As in previous years, the calendar features his drawings of nude models (real people who volunteer over social media), which are covered in clothes printed on in gold scratch-off ink, so that they can then be revealed day by day in the lead-up to Christmas.

    Matt Alagiah
  • Kevin-bray-film-itsnicethat-list Work / Film Kévin Bray pushes tools to unexpected places in his experimental music videos

    “I’m really interested in the possibility film and video theory could bring to a graphic design practice by translating and bridging both mediums together,” explains French artist and graphic designer, Kévin Bray. Currently based in Amsterdam where he is undertaking a residency at Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, Kévin’s work is a hybrid of techniques, sitting somewhere between film, graphic design and sound design.

    Ruby Boddington
  • Duncancowles-film-itsnicethat-list Work / Film Duncan Cowles' new film explores the panicky feeling that a creative idea might not be amazing enough

    Following on from Duncan Cowles’ brilliant Taking Stock film at the end of last year, the director is back with a new film which again uses generic stock footage to piece together a very relatable narrative. Where Taking Stock touched a nerve with freelance creatives through Duncan’s own tale of trying to make a side hustle from selling stock footage online with little financial success, It’s Not Amazing Enough, commissioned by Ted, explores the panicky feeling of worrying your work might not quite be up to scratch.

    Lucy Bourton
  • Richardayoade-film-itsnicethat-list Work / Film Richard Ayoade directs new video for The Breeders

    During the 1990s Richard Ayoade — a name you’ll recognise as the director of The Double and Submarine the presenter of Channel 4’s Travel Man, or Moss from the I.T Crowd — was a teen living in Suffolk’s creative metropolis, Ipswich. One day he travelled to London to buy The Breeders’ 1990 debut, Pod. Years later, and following a career that’s seen Richard make us laugh, and make music videos for the likes of Arctic Monkeys and Vampire Weekend, Richard has directed The Breeders’ latest music video, Spacewoman.

    Lucy Bourton
  • Paolina-russo-aidan-zamiri-fashion-film-itsnicethat-list Work / Film Irony, sportswear and self-obsession: Paolina Russo and Aidan Zamiri's creative partnership

    Fashion designer Paolina Russo and filmmaker Aidan Zamiri are a creative partnership – and real-life couple – who fuse their differing design backgrounds to produce work both individually and collaboratively. The pair both studied at Central Saint Martins (CSM) on BA Fashion Design and BA Graphic Communication Design, respectively and, although studying apparently opposing subjects, it was here that their impressive and intriguing dual practice first originated.

    Ruby Boddington
  • Holly_blakey-squareone-film-itsnicethat-list Work / Film Choreographer Holly Blakey directs music video for mysterious musician Moss Kena

    “Punk” choreographer and director Holly Blakey has collaborated with Moss Kena on a new film for Moss’ track Square One.

    Bryony Stone
  • Jonny-nash-bacterial-film-itsnicethat01 Work / Film Record label Melody as Truth is carving out a woozy, spacey audio-visual niche

    For those of us who daydream about watching the sunset over a negroni from the balcony of La Torre, Jonny Nash’s Melody as Truth record label has become as important as Birkenstocks, blue skies, and DJ Harvey bootlegs.

    Josh Baines
  • Baloji-peaudechagrinbleudenuit-film-itsnicethat-2list Work / Film Baloji's latest music video is a dreamscape of electric hues and intriguing characters

    An immaculately dressed man adorned in azure feathers stands against a cloud of blue smoke holding a bouquet of flowers. The man’s gaze commands the camera as a soft voice whispers “bleu de nuit” – “midnight blue” – over a kalimba rhythm. This is the opening scene of Congolese-Belgian musician Baloji’s latest music video Peau de Chagrin / Bleu de Nuit, taken from his album 137 Avenue Kaniama. Conceptualised and directed by Baloji and photographed by Kristin-Lee Moolman, Peau de Chagrin / Bleu de Nuit is a dreamscape of electric hues and intriguing characters. Although Baloji’s career is now firmly cemented within the music industry, the singer’s strengths stretch across creative disciplines. “I’m a visual artist when I work as a film and art director and sometimes even a stylist when funds are tight,” Baloji tells It’s Nice That. 

    Peau de Chagrin / Bleu de Nuit follows a bride and groom during the hours leading up to their wedding. Baloji avoids a linear narrative, creating instead a series of metaphorical images that condense fleeting impressions into unsettling emotions. “Many shots depict an absent partner, which implies that one of them has gone back on their promises; changed their mind. The film illustrates this allegorically, showing the two protagonists alone in their wedding finery in front of the ceremonial installations. The backdrops become clearer as the cloud of yellowish smoke dissipates,” Baloji explains. These wedding frames, seeped as they are in vegetal embellishments, construct a theatrical stage that allows Baloji to play out his symbolic tales of love, lust and eventual apathy.

    The hand-crafted masks worn by the characters throughout the film further highlight Baloji’s desired dramatic effect. As the figures wait in vain, “the masks come to represent the love that becomes a ghost. In this way, the masks separate the symbolically-charged waiting shots from the more figurative parts of the video,” Baloji says. This contrast is made all the more poignant by the intricately decorated wooden backdrops, which draw on Pygmy culture and its visually rich wedding rituals; “the installations are historically used as altars for wedding ceremonies,” the artist explains. In drawing on a long-established tradition, Baloji emphasises the pain felt by the lonesome character waiting at the altar and transforms a conventionally celebratory occasion into a harrowing betrayal. 

    Peau de Chagrin / Bleu de Nuit is an aesthetic triumph; vibrant, atmospheric and undeniably compelling. When asked how the final outcome compares to his initial visions, Baloji admits that “it’s pretty close. We just didn’t have time to shoot everything. I made sure to be extremely prepared since the budget was very low. I knew the whole shooting list by heart, which meant we could focus our attention on the acting on set.”

    Daphne Milner
  • Bafic-daydream-film-itsnicethat-list Work / Film Bafic's surreal new music video considers the realm of dreams

    We’ve been tracing the trail of London-based filmmaker and artist Bafic for quite some time. Among his most recent work you’ll spot a music video for Neneh Cherry Spit Three Times, as well as one for her daughter Mabel’s My Boy My Town, among commercial work for the likes of NikeLab and TfL and ASOS.

    Bryony Stone
  • Mahaneela-everything-is-recorded-film-itsnicethat-list Work / Film Mahaneela on co-directing the documentary for Everything is Recorded

    Mahaneela is a multi-disciplinary artist working predominantly in film and photography to provide a different perspective of representation. Creating content for some of the most influential brands in the world from Converse to Eurostar, Mahaneela has also photographed artists from the likes of FKA Twigs and Sampha in her distinctively intimate style. The artist’s most recent triumph is co-directing a 30-minute documentary about the Mercury Prize nominated album Everything is Recorded. Mahaneela and directing duo Child (Tayo Rapoport and Josh Renaut) seamlessly edit personal interviews with photography and improvisational recording sessions to document the raw musical energy that makes up the acclaimed album.

    Jyni Ong
  • Stephen-isaac-wilson-film-itsnicethat-list Work / Film Stephen Isaac-Wilson's new film for Boiler Room remembers Manchester's 90s queer clubbing scene

    In the mid-90s, Canal Street was the flamboyant heart of Manchester’s gay scene. Home to the city’s queer party lovers, Canal Street existed outside Manchester’s world-famous club scene, until, that is, 1999, when the characters of Russell T Davies’ Queer as Folk swaggered onto TV screens and kicked open the doors of queer nightlife to wide-eyed viewers across the nation.

    Bryony Stone

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