Bait, by Cornwall-based filmmaker Mark Jenkin, is wowing and beguiling critics. And there’s a chance for South West film fans catching an early view of the film as it tours the region with a series of screenings and Q&As.
Writer director Mark (also cinematographer, editor and score composer) is a Newlyn resident and an associate lecture in film at Falmouth University. And staff and students helped crew the microbudget film.
Tackles common issues
Set within the community of a present-day Cornish fishing village, Bait (UK, 2019, 89 mins, Cert 15) tackles issues common to many of the West Country’s most scenic areas.
It’s a social story of touristification and loss of traditional roles. Or, as Screen Daily puts it: the ‘bourgeois invasion of a coastal town left defenceless by recession’. Plus there are personal politics and interpersonal relationship issues at play.
“A drama on what might be the rather hackneyed theme of tourists ruining Cornwall becomes a bizarre expressionist melodrama,” said Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian.
It’s the filmmaking itself that pushes the film into a very special space.
‘Sophistication and scholarship’
The film was shot on a vintage Bolex cine-camera on black-and-white 16mm film. And then a scratchy, glitchy, antique feel was applied. And all dialogue and sound was added in post-production. In fact, Hollywood Reporter talks about the film’s ‘sophistication and scholarship’.
Edward Rowe (Cornish comedian Kernow King) stars as a struggling fisherman, who doesn’t have a boat. Alongside Mary Woodvine, Giles King and Simon Shepherd.
Bait was shot entirely in Cornwall (in Charleston and around Penzance), it gets its UK-wide release by the BFI (British Film Institute) on 30 August, but you can see it early in the South West!
Bait has already earned high praise and award nominations at international film festivals, among them Berlin and Edinburgh. In fact, it was the only UK film selected for the 2019 Berlinale Forum.
Julie Pearce, head of BFI Distribution told D&CFilm: “Bait is such a brilliantly original film – and funny too! The lead character, Martin, is a fisherman who just wants to earn a living without selling out, but he’s fallen out with his brother over how the family boat is used (for fishing or for day-trippers) and he’s getting everyone’s back up.
“We think audiences will love this film so we especially wanted to give people living in the South West, where Bait is set, the chance to see it first – it’s their film.”
Reviewers have been unanimous in their enthusiasm for the film. Screen Daily described it as ‘ravishing cinema’, Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian awarded it four stars and Little White Lies judged it “One of the most thrillingly original British films in years” [which must be in the print edition, because we can’t find it on the internet – pop us a link if you find it].
Dates of the South West previews + Q&As are:
• Friday 16 August: Newlyn Filmhouse
• Saturday 17 August: Plaza, Truro
• Sunday 18 August: Regal Cinema, Wadebridge
• Monday 19 August: Lighthouse, Newquay
• Tuesday 20 August: Poly, Falmouth
• Wednesday 21 August: Picturehouse, Exeter
• Wednesday 22 August: Watershed, Bristol
Seats can be booked either via the venue or by visiting https://www.bfi.org.uk/whats-on/bfi-film-releases/bait
Previews plus Q&As will also take place in Manchester (24 Aug), Newcastle (25 Aug), Edinburgh (27 Aug) and at three cinemas in London (Aug 28, 29 and 30). Here’s more on the film and dates.