Dramatic British Win In South Africa Could Be First Of A Double Small British Independent Film Beats The Big Boys At National Arts Festival
The banners are out all over England but as our bid for the World Cup kicks off there’s already reason to celebrate in South Africa as ‘Innocent’, a Brit flick with a micro-budget and a big message is selected to take centre stage competing against Hollywood blockbusters The Ghost Writer and Alice In Wonderland at the National Arts Festival of South Africa.
Like millions of England fans the movie is also looking back on memories of a life-changing event in the 1960s. However, for a group of schoolboys it isn’t the joy of a World Cup win, but something far darker. Written and directed by British actress and writer Helen Blizard (EastEnders and Heartbeat), the film charts how the paths of a bullied teenager and of an adult still traumatized by similar experiences at prep school collide spectacularly. Starring Adrian Lukis and June Whitfield and newcomer Harriet Neville, the film was shot for less than £300,000 but packs a powerful punch.
“It was originally a stage production and was so successful that we had to take it to the big screen, but we’ve been delighted by how well the movie has been received” explained Helen Blizard. “To open the South African National Arts Festival as a director alongside Roman Polanski and Tim Burton is quite something, but I think it’s testament to the fact that the subject matter really does have mass appeal and a strong, clear message: the effects of bullying can last a lifetime and can also cut lifetimes short. The profits of the film will go to anti-bullying charities.”
Although made on a micro-budget the film has attracted solid reviews and some serious talent including editor Michael Bradsell whose credits include Wilde, Scum, Local Hero and Women in Love, Executive Producer, top literary, film & TV agent Julian Friedmann, Adrian Lukis from Pride and Prejudice and the Old Vic (with Kevin Spacey) and the legendary June Whitfield. However, what it lacks in the promotional budget afforded to Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan and Johnny Depp, Innocent makes up for with a powerful spirit of enthusiasm and evangelism about the movie from cast and crew.
“In South Africa this year we can guarantee there will be at least one uplifting story of talented Brits fighting for what they believe in and succeeding against the odds and that applies not just to the film itself but the struggle to get it made and released” says co-director Guy Holloway. “But what happens on the pitch is anyone’s guess.”