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Indie Films that defined UK’s Culture in 2020 & 2021

According to Comscore, the UK cinema sector in 2020 had its worst year since 2011. The revenue for the year totaling £296,716,078, a 76 per cent drop from 2019, with admissions down 75 per cent at 43,981,705 (UKCA news, 2021). As much as the box office suffered, indie filmmakers were still finding ways around the pandemic to produce content and connect their films with audiences. Whether through online festivals or streaming platforms these films emerged as UK’s cultural representation.

Mnemosyne Atlas -- UK films 2020 & 2021

Within this curated Mnemosyne Atlas is a series of still images taken from UK-based films in 2020 and 2021. They represent a context of expression based on each film’s story and have been arranged undefined by their linear timeline. This is a similar analysis to that of Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas, that which brought together graphical materials from research and lectures in a series of large-format plates on various topics that demonstrated the legacy of antiquity in the imagery of later epochs, from the Renaissance and the Baroque to the early 20th century (OSA Archivum, 2008).

Host (2020) Shudder

Host (Rob Savage, 2020) is a 56-minute found footage film set around a group of friends that hold an online séance. Shudder, the US streaming service that specializes in genre content, produced the film based on a concept from an early-morning WhatsApp message between the creators. They ended with two weeks to put the script together and twelve weeks to make the film with iPhones, laptops and limited special effects (White, 2021).

Ali & Ava (2021) Altitude

Ali & Ava (Clio Barnard, 2021) is a Bradford-set romantic drama that follows two lonely individuals that develop a strong connection over a month despite past experiences with love. The film gained critical acclaim after being nominated for two BAFTA Award’s (‘Outstanding British Film of the Year’, ‘Best Leading Actor’). The film was produced by Moonspun Films for Altitude, with finance from BBC Films, BFI (awarding National Lottery funding) and Screen Yorkshire (Screen Yorkshire).

Limbo (2020) MUBI UK

Limbo (Ben Sharrock, 2020) is a dramatic comedy about a Syrian refugee stranded on a remote Scottish island. The film premiered at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival and took part in the Cannes Film Festival as well as BFI London Film Festival. Acquired by global streaming service and theatrical distributor MUBI for release in the UK and Ireland (Screen Scotland).


[image] “23 Walks” (2020) Parkland Pictures, Available from

[image] “Ali & Ava” (2021) Altitude, Available from

[image] “Ali & Ava” (2021) Altitude, Available from

[image] “Censor” (2021) Magnolia Pictures/Moviestore/Shutterstock, Available from

[image] “Granada Nights” (2021) Eye Five Films, Available from

[image] “Herself” (2021) Sundance Institute, Available from

[image] “Host” (2020) Shudder, Available from

[image] “Host” (2020) Shudder, Available from

[image] “Limbo” (2020) MUBI UK, Available from

[image] “Limbo” (2020) MUBI UK, Available from

[image] “Mogul Mowgli” (2020) Mughal Mowgli Ltd/BBC, Available from

OSA Archivum. (2008) “Aby Warburg - The Mnemosyne Atlas”, Available from

[image] “Possessor” (2020) NEON, Available from

[image] “Quant” (2021) Studio Soho Distribution, Available from

Screen Scotland (2020) “Limbo”, Available from

Screen Yorkshire. (2020) “ALI & AVA”, Available from:

[image] “Sweetheart” (2021) Over A Cliff Ltd, Available from

[image] “The Whalebone Box” (2020) MUBI UK, Available from

[image] “To Olivia” (2021) Atticus Pictures, Available from

UKCA news. (2021) “2020 figures confirm impact of COVID-19 on UK cinema sector”, Available from

White, G. (2021) “ ‘Host’: How three Londoners in lockdown made one of the most acclaimed horror films of the decade on Zoom”, The National News: Arts & Culture, Available from:

[image] “Zebra Girl” (2021) Bohemia Media, Available from

** content provided is part of a film industry study at the University of Westminster, 2022

#UKfilm #UKcinema #2020 #2021 #boxoffice

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