Tag Archives: Daniel Fawcett



FEATURING: Joana Castro, Bruno Senune, Carina de Matos, Falvia Barabas, Daniel Pires

PLOT: Shuffling between the interior and exterior of a building (with guest appearances from some jagged cliffside rocks), various symbolic events occur because of the actions of various symbolic people.

Still from The Kingdom of Shadows (2016)

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: This clutter of film scenes might be interpreted as “weird”, but I’m leery to describe the onscreen capering as a “movie”. Perhaps it’s just my staggering lack of interpretive skills, but when the characters are only somewhat explainable because you read the opening credits, I find the “movie” part a bit wanting. Not much is clear, and the lack of dialogue handily augments the altogether excessive incoherence of the narrative.

COMMENTS: I shall begin by saying that Daniel Fawcett and Clara Pais may well have accomplished something impressive with their symbol-ridden film, The Kingdom of Shadows. Throughout the film there are little hiccups of inspired images that, in isolation, would make for compelling photographs to ponder. The lack of dialogue lends itself to a lack of explanation, but that allows for a mutuality of incomprehension across the globe. Unfortunately, it leaves the viewer grasping blindly for what it is the filmmakers are trying to say.

The story proper (I am guessing) begins weirdly enough with a pair of golden hands magically boiling up a pot of water. What ensues is a long-form mishmash of figurative images and sequences that vaguely intrigue, and certainly baffle, the viewer. A furtive young man appears during the bridging sequences, who may be acting as witness, along with us viewers. Inside a 19th-century (?) house, a clutch of people (indicated in the credits as “mother”, “daughter”, “uncle”, and so on) interact in strange ways with motives that are impossible to divine. An inspector comes along at some point (again, we know his vocation only from the credits) and twirls his mustache a lot. Eventually the gang inside the house takes up arms against the “daughter,” driving her outside. Interrupting the action is a pair of (usually naked) young people having quasi-dance-like interactions of joy, terror, and sundry other feelings.

As I’ve hinted in the preceding paragraphs, while there may be a lot going on in the movie, very little of it makes any sense. It would help if I knew what the directors were trying to say, and a commentary would no doubt be illuminating. That said, this presents a problem: any movie that cannot stand up to unsupervised viewing is of dubious merit. If there isn’t clarity, there needs to be a “vibe” of some sort, or at least an ambience. However, The Kingdom of Shadows is too scattered to have such a vibe, and any ambience is sabotaged by incoherent or careless touches. To support the latter, I give the example of a slow-moving “pursuit” scene through one of the house’s corridors. The turn-of-the-last-century feel is utterly destroyed by a very obvious smoke detector on the wall. Its square plastic frame and glowing electric light immediately crush whatever mood may have been built.

I have no doubt that all those involved poured their hearts and souls into making this movie, so it pains me a little to have to be so down on it. After the sturm und drang of various troubled moans from the young observer, after the not-quite balletic artiness of the “Adam and Eve” vignettes, and after the cranked up symbolism, we’re still left with something that’s a bit amateurish and more than a bit boring. If there were an unhealthy halfway point between How the Sky Will Melt and Begotten, this movie hits it, and hits it hard. ‘s piece—while perhaps incomprehensible—has that dream-like “thing” required for such an exercise in post-narrative film. That “thing” is never found by the directors of The Kingdom of Shadows, which is more the pity.


“…a film that does never try to make perfect sense, instead using impressive, often tableau-like imagery to get its point across… a film like this might not be for everybody, but those with open minds are up for a fascinating journey…”–Mike Haberfelner, [re]Search My Trash (contemoraneous)



SYNOPSIS: Compiled from footage filmed over a period of 17 years, Splendor Solis is a tone-poem celebration of cinema, creativity, play, collaboration, friendship and all of the splendors under the sun.Splendor Solis

COMMENTS:  The latest from The Underground Film Studio (who previously brought us Savage Witches), Splendor Solis is a 60 minute twin-screen presentation of odds and ends from the previous 17 years of Daniel Fawcett’s filmmaking career. While that may at first seem to be a pretty easy (and lazy) way to build a film, not to mention an invitation to boredom, Splendor Solis ends up being anything but tedious.

Combing through 17 years’ worth of “home movies”—video diaries, unfinished films, video experiments, filmed performances, behind-the-scenes footage and yes, real home movies—is a massive undertaking in and of itself. Attempting to make a coherent and interesting film out of all that material is an additional mountain to climb. Splendor Solis succeeds in overcoming the boredom trap in two ways. First, the editing by Fawcett and is crackerjack. Presenting the footage via twin screens helps immensely in using up footage and in juxtaposing segments. Second, the music and sound design play an integral part in keeping the energy level up.

The result is a playful spectacle for the eyes which also serves as an accelerated look at the growth of an artist.

Splendor Solis had its World Premiere at the 35th Cambridge Film Festival in September, 2015 and will be making the film festival circuit in 2016.

EDITED BY: Daniel Fawcett and Clara Pais

MUSIC BY: Simon Keep, Jos Dow, Daniel Fawcett, Alex Lemming, Magnus Williams, Thomas Hartley


DIRECTED BY: Daniel Fawcett, Clara Pais

FEATURING: Christina Wood, Victoria Smith

Still from Savage Witches (2012)

PLOT: Two teenage girls, Gretchen and Margarita (Wood & Smith), want nothing more than to play games, dress themselves up and have all kinds of adventures, but they constantly find themselves in conflict with the world around them. So they set out to transform it and break free…

COMMENTS:  With a title like that and two teenage girls in the main roles, you might be expecting another grindhouse gem to assert itself onto the film scene. Not in this universe, however—in fact, Savage Witches is best served by throwing out all expectations and just going with the flow of images and sounds in this “motion picture exploration,” as it bills itself.  Savage Witches hearkens back to earlier days of experimental film—the makers cite the works of the Kuchar brothers and  as influences, and the film itself is a direct homage to the Czech film classic Daisies by , which also is about the adventures of two young women who decide to break out of their roles and have adventures by ‘being bad.’

Where Daisies was seen as an overt attack on society by the ‘bad’ behavior of its lead characters, Savage Witches is far less political, but it is still an aesthetic attack on the audience’s expectations of film as entertainment. There are no character arcs and not much in terms of action driving the plot forward. In fact, there’s only the barest hint of any sort of plot… instead, the action is mainly abstract, with the film changing from live action, to photo collage, to storyboards, to Super-8 as Gretchen & Margarita explore their freedom; although the real liberty is the freedom of cinema from the strictures that we commonly bring to it.

04_burning_0791_smallThe film begins with a myriad of colors across the screen, and a voice inviting the audience to join in on an exploration—a dream—through which the voice informs the audience, “we can go anywhere, see anything”. The colors coalesce into two faces, Gretchen and Margarita, and from here on they function as guides/proxies for the audience, as they move forward into adventure: an adventure of form and format, rather than any sort of plot or story that has to be followed in the service of ‘business’ or whatever. That is the only ‘savagery’ exhibited by these pair of “savage witches”: the refusal to conform to the typical structure of what we expect when we sit down to watch a film. It is perhaps for this reason that the “savage witches” are burned at the end (besides the fact it provides an exciting ending), and our last glimpse of them is of them resting in state, but even then, they continue to flout our expectations… in contrast to the heroines of Daisies, who are definitely punished at the end for their bad behavior. Of course the attack that the protagonists of the Czech film lead against their society is far more pointed and nastier than Savage Witches. Also, the girls of Witches are not as sexualized as the women in Daisies, who use their erotic appeal as a battle tactic.

For a 70 minute experimental feature film, Savage Witches is highly entertaining, which may come as a surprise to audiences in the U.S., whose exposure to experimental film is usually in short form and viewed as something to be endured, like a visit to the dentist. It doesn’t really qualify as weird, except perhaps to someone who has never viewed any sort of film that didn’t have a linear narrative, but that probably qualifies it as a good gateway for people to get into experimental films – its ‘weird’ factor isn’t quite high enough to alienate the General Viewer, but it’s just strange enough to be engaging to fans of weird film.  It’s also helped by the music of Fiona Bevan and sound design of Simon Keep, and the engaging performances of Christina Wood and Victoria Smith as the lead characters.

Savage Witches should continue to screen in film festivals in 2013, and DVDs should be available directly from the filmmakers from their website within a month or so. UPDATE 7/5/2013: Limited edition DVD’s now available through this link.

Savage Witches Facebook

DISCLAIMER: A copy of this film was provided by the production company for review.


This article originally appeared on the One + One Filmmakers Journal blog.

Daniel Fawcett and Clara Pais are underground filmmakers (the upcoming Savage Witches, which will premiere at the Cambridge Film Festival in September) and publishers of the One + One Filmmakers Journal. The following list of ten movies was originally composed as an alternative film response to the 2012 Sight and Sound “Greatest Films of All Time” poll, but when we saw the thoroughly weird selections we realized it would make for a perfect Top 10 Weird Movies list. The authors agreed, and graciously permitted us to re-purpose and republish the article.

Without further ado:

10 films we love! A Response to Sight and Sound’s Top 50 films.

By Daniel Fawcett and Clara Pais

There has been a lot of top 10 film lists popping up on the internet over the last couple of days in response to the release of Sight and Sound’s Top 50 Films of All Time. Everyone has an opinion about the validity of the list and the discussion has mostly centered around whether Vertigo is the best film ever made. Personally we think Vertigo is a great film but it certainly wouldn’t be on the top of our list.

The Sight and Sound list is pretty much the same as every other top 50 list, it doesn’t particularly matter if Citizen Kane or Vertigo is number 1 or number 2, chances are that if you are interested in cinema then you’ve seen them both. While we recognise the importance of these films they are not the films that have had a significant impact on us. So last night we made a list, not necessarily a list of the best films ever made, maybe not even a list of our favourite films but a list of the first 10 films that came to mind that have excited and inspired us. They are certainly not films that you would see on the Sight and Sound list but they are all unique and important works of cinema.

Hold Me While I’m Naked (1966) George Kuchar

Still from Hold Me While I'm Naked (1966)Hold Me While I’m Naked is one of the things in life worth living for! In fact, we could say that about a lot of Kuchar films, which are amateur concoctions of melodrama, sci-fi and other Hollywood genres and archetypes with a great sensibility for cinematic spectacle. Hold Me While I Am Naked is an example of unstoppable creativity, the film started with a somewhat more conventional narrative but, after leading lady Donna Kerness pulled out, it became a film about a director who is trying to get his Continue reading DANIEL FAWCETT AND CLARA PAIS’ TOP TEN WEIRD MOVIES