Wednesday, 2 June 2010
Gemma Burditt "Welcome Homes" (2009)
There is something indisputably English about Gemma Burditt’s Welcome Homes. Scouring the city back streets the team can take in something between twenty and forty strays a night. We go out on patrol seizing the old lady by the bins, our quarry looking more dazed than annoyed as she is placed in the van with one or two other wretches, trembling with nerves though they are handled sensitively throughout the process of assessment, isolation and behavioral tests that sound, I guess, more intimidating than they turn out to be. The old lady seems dwarfed by the bed but does her face rather nicely, her make-up case deployed adroitly behind the locked doors. Next morning there is to be a full head to toe examination before this latest batch of pensioners is offered up to the public. Not all will discover a suitable home. We track the progress of one old man whose cigarette habit proves a tad off-putting for customers. The old-timers are small but perfectly formed, only rendered minuscule by comparison with their human attendants. The voice-overs are provided by bona fide workers in the rehabilitation business. They have a brisk efficiency about them, their compassion tempered by reality. But we do, old smokers apart, get a lump in our throats as a home is provided for our old girl. Using Flash worked over in After Effects, the film is affectingly drawn with its slightly old fashioned automobiles, red buses and period flavour to the medical staff who remind me of a certain Beatles cartoon. Which brings to mind the lack of spaying. Stray pensioners must be stopped from breeding and there's no mention of that at all in the film. Or the "C" or "D"words. An interesting and talented young woman, Gemma studied sculpture at Exeter College before spending three years at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. She has also worked with puppet theatre. The link is to the BBC’s splendid film network site, though there is a YouTube version of the film.