Following the lives of six punk artists in 1986 Britain, Revolutionart depicts the experience of coming of age against the brutally austere political backdrop of the era. Taking members of the real, current band Brewer, the film blends reality and history into a beautiful rendering of the almost, the could-have-been, the nearly-now, with enough reality and truth to remain believable, and yet a fictional time and place that allows for improvisation and expansion on the real people it presents.
Directed by Ksenia Kulakova, and filmed entirely on Hi8 tape by cinematographer Samira Oberberg, the story loosely follows the aftermath of the death of a friend, and the way the band individually and collectively respond to life without her. The true beauty of this piece however is the fact that the entire film is improvised, meaning that although the characters tell the story they’ve been directed to, it’s done in entirely their own way, bringing their own experiences into the fold as if simultaneously telling their stories too. In a sense, the film has created it’s own story; a range of improvised scenes tying themselves together in ways unexpected, just like how our day to day experiences eventually tie up to create progressing narratives that ultimately become the story of our lives. You don’t know at the time which moments you will remember, or which will later make sense as part of a grander scheme of things, just like how whilst making Revolutionart, it wasn’t clear until the final edit which path the story would take. Inevitably this is what makes the film so special: it feels like real life, like the slightly blurred chronology of long-ago memories, pieced together in a montage.
The entire production of the film further almost legitimises the story: the choice of camera keeps it accurate of the time, and gives it a sort of hazy, memory-like feel, while the use of what the team could find for locations and props means that not only does it feel like a DIY punk documentary, it entirely is. You don’t feel cheated in any way, or appropriated; the characters are almost alter-egos of the band’s real identities, and their lifestyle just given a different context and therefore different opportunities and situations. The choice of 1986 gives them the ability to discuss current issues in a safe space, and comment on sexism, the music industry, youth violence, drug abuse, poverty and loss from enough of a distance that enables the viewer to sort of forget any bias they may have in 2019, and instead view the world through their eyes, eyes which can then in turn be taken back to revisit the same things in the current age. The film feels like a revolution: maybe a private one, a personal one, but our individual revolutions are what can be combined to create collective movement and change, and after watching this film I believe that more than ever.
Created by We’re Making A Film (WMAF), the filmmaker’s collective founded by the director, Revolutionart is a rebellion in itself: a group of young creatives making work regardless of how difficult it can be in the industry, and without waiting for anyone to tell them to make work, or give them funding. It’s so exciting to see talent being cultivated by a group that is not only boosting each other and collaborating casually, but actually being able to work on large-scale projects such as this film. The performance of every member of the cast and crew is genuinely exceptional: for some actors who had no acting experience, the raw energy and emotion they bring to the film is honest and fresh. The sheer amount of time and professionalism to create a feature film without huge investment, backing or budget is really something to revel in: if this is what they can do now, just imagine what the future holds. Revolutionart is a film not to be missed for both film fanatics and casual watchers alike, it is powerful, meaningful and skilfully created, and will fill you with a nostalgia that will linger like the shiver after a rush of adrenaline for a long time to come.
Words: Ellie Connor-Phillips
Revolutionart was directed by Ksenia Kulakova, with cinematography by Samira Oberberg. Produced by Bianca De Ritis, edited by Io Spyridoyiannakis and Seb Dows-Miller, sound recorded and designed by Felix Waverly-Hudson. Cast: Tom Melvin, Alma Lejard, Oz Lamoureux, Janet Kamara, Stella Abraham and Jack D’Assis. We’re Making A Film (WMAF) can be found on facebook or instagram.