1745

****1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

1745
"Napier - who is surely going to step up from short films soon - tightly controls the mood."

When thoughts turn to the slave trade, people tend to think about America, but until the 1800s it was also a part of British life for two centuries. Here, director Gordon Napier and writer Morayo Akandé (who also stars in the film) turn the clock back to 1745 Scotland for a tale of two slave sisters on the run. The fact that the year is best known as that of the Jacobite Rebellion, further underscores the unwritten histories many no nothing about.

It's a simple story that sees Emma and Rebecca (Akandé and her sister Moyo) running for their lives through the wilds of the Highlands. Not far behind them, their master (Clive Russell) is on the hunt on horseback. But the execution, both technically and from the actors, elevates this to something a lot more.

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Napier - who is surely going to step up from short films soon - tightly controls the mood. He finds tension, through contrast, such as the cut from the breathless women fleeing in their long frocks catching on the ground, to the static austerity of their master's home, Russell's stillness drawing the attention before we spot his character's gun. Napier and Julian Schwanitz (whose excellent cinematography can also be seen in fellow EIFF alumni Donkeyote) have a fluid approach to filming, the camera gliding close to the ground, so that we are caught up in the sisters' emotional flight as well as their physical one.

Judicious flashbacks also flow smoothly from the action of the present, while the Akandé sisters also draw us in with strong performances. There is also good use of the natural sounds of the environment which, coupled with the threatening skies, serve the film's atmosphere well. From top to bottom, this is a cast and crew to look out for in future.

Reviewed on: 14 Jul 2017
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Two slave sisters flee their master in the Highlands of Scotland.

Director: Gordon Napier

Writer: Morayo Akandé

Starring: Moyo Akandé, Morayo Akandé, Clive Russell

Year: 2017

Runtime: 18 minutes

Country: UK

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