On Thursday 22 January at 7.30pm, two unique independent short films will be screened Upstairs at the Ritzy in a Wet Paint Films double bill for those who fancy an anecdote to the blockbusters of awards season.
Chris Ward is writer and director of both of the films and has been bringing unusual performance pieces to London audiences since the mid 80s with his post punk theatre/film company, Wet Paint. Telling me about Wet Paint’s work, he describes the company as “quite a disparate band” but one which shares the same love for the work and drive to bring untold stories of peripheral Londoners to more people’s attention.”
The first film being screened as part of the double bill, What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor [about 1930s model and singer Nina Hamnett, known as the last queen of Bohemia], actually premiered at the Ritzy in 2011 when Wet Paint enjoyed a “receptive audience, who gave really interesting feedback”; “we’ve thought of the Ritzy as a bit of lucky place for us ever since.” Chris and the company will also be taking one half of the double bill, Camberwell Beauty [their latest film about the lead singer of a punk band] around to a couple of Picturehouse cinemas in London too and hope to “meet and chat to indie film lovers and people interested in the untold stories of London’s history.”
Both of the films being shown are very much London films, albeit focusing on vastly different eras, and I asked Chris why his work so often revolves around London. “I’m a Londoner and I’ve always been interested in telling the stories of people struggling to find their place – it’s what I know best.” Chris also thinks both films are “timeless stories” with “fragile souls” at their centre. “What interests me about both [the protagonists of the films] is a sense of purity, beauty and innocence lost.”
The double bill is being wrapped up with an audience Q&A hosted by Hackney-based London historian and playwright Ken Levy. Knowing his interest in independent cinema, Chris is delighted to have Ken leading this conversation. Speaking to the Blog about the films, Ken said:
“Wet Paint’s approach to the arts scene totally mirrors mine: it is the ordinariness of the artist/actor/singer that makes them stand out. What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor is in effect a short documentary that screams the chosen decadent lifestyle of Nina Hamnett straight into the viewer’s face.
Camberwell Beauty could be retitled ‘Netta (punk band singer) In Horrorland’. All the other characters are like humanoids: human in form but devoid of feeling. A quote from Kafka sums up Netta’s plight: It is impossible to defend yourself when there is no good will. One by one she discovers their lack of worth.”
Think it sounds worth a watch? Click here to book your tickets to the Wet Paint double bill through the Ritzy website.