THE BEFUDDLED BOX OF BETTY BUTTIFINT
Feature Film made in collaboration with the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
Screened at the East End Film Festival
A touching examination of a fractured memory. Janis Pugh's film portrays an elderly woman living within her own confused mind. Using the vivid landscape of her memories. Janis blurs the line between reality and fantasy; between real memories and symbols of Betty's religious past. Featuring an ensemble cast from RSSD and a lead performance from Illona Linthwaite as a woman struggling to make sense of her life. It is a moving, poetic take on the life, loves and losses of a person whose world is fading away.
A BEAUTIFUL DEATH
Short film made in collaboration with the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
Screened at the Aesthetica Film Festival and Oaxaca Film Festival
A Beautiful Death takes us into the last moments shared by a family as they prepare for the death of a beloved mother. Poignant, playful and at times surreal, we observe the final, ritualistic acts of tenderness towards the dying woman and the first tentative steps to come to terms with her loss as life's vital thrust reasserts itself.
CONVERSATIONS WITH MY AUNT
Documentary film Distributed by DR Sales
Broadcast throughout Europe and Australia
In 2005 the director received a phone call from her Aunt; she was lost in London on her way to the dentist and was in a state of panic. Shortly afterwards, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and then began her descent into the helplessness and hopelessness of the advanced Alzheimer’s patient.
Some events would trigger her memory and bring a partial version of her back to life, notably her response to music and to physical affection.
Shot over five days, Conversations with my Aunt is an intimate portrait of the director’s relationship with her Aunt. A relationship bound by the past struggling to survive the present as the effects of Alzheimer’s have transformed it into one of carer/patient.
Capturing the repetitious routines and unpredictable behaviour caused by Alzheimer’s, the film gives a sense of the ever-changing continuum of the disease.
BLUE COLLARS AND BUTTERCUPS
Short film, winner of The Kodak/Nahemi Creative Filmmaking Special Commendation at the Encounters Film Festival; screened at Locarno, Tampere and Brest amongst other festivals.
On her 16th birthday in a small factory town in North Wales, Tina dreams of escaping her inevitable blue collar destiny - the production lines of the local chicken factory.
Frustrated by her lack of choices Tina yearns to raise her status above the expected. But will she fail? A poetic tale of the journey from childhood to adulthood.
Welsh Bafta nominated Short Film
Won Best Director for It's my Shout and Best Actress Award
10 minute musical based on a young single mother who struggles to find the balance between her reality and her dreams.
Set in Port Talbot
Documentary shot in Janis' home town explores post Thatcherism and its effects on the community.
Flint was once a strong and thriving industrial town until the closure of its main source of employment, Courtaulds. The female residents of Castle Heights, whose inner strength and adaptability have lead them to create their own supportive community, get together once a week to talk about old times and play bingo!
FESTIVAL HIGHLIGHTS AND AWARDS
Janis is featured in Screen International's UK Stars of Tomorrow - Class of 2008 "Janis Pugh has been making no-budget shorts, inspired by the stories of her home town of Flint in North Wales
SCREEN INTERNATIONAL NEWS ARTICLE
Her break came in 2005 with documentary short House about elderly women playing bingo and reminiscing about their lives. It won her a scholarship to the London Film School. Pugh graduated last year with Blue Collars And Buttercups which screened at the Locarno, Lodz and Brest film festivals. Part-autobiographical, it is about a young woman with dreams of escaping a life of drudgery in a chicken factory.
Mixing quirky visuals with a vivid sense of location, the film's humour and authentic characters have won Pugh fans in the BFI and the BBC. She is about to shoot a short opera for ITV Wales and is developing the short Magna Mater about the changing stages of women's lives. Then there is the feature: The musical Balaclava Sands about a girl growing up during the social and economic chaos of the 1980s. "My films give a voice to a section of the UK whose stories have been ignored for too long," she says."
AWARDS AND NOMINATIONS
Blue Collars and Buttercups was very well received at festivals all over the world and won two awards, one at LODZ (Poland) and The Encounters Film Festival (Britain) where it received special commendation award. It provoked much interest at festivals in Tampere (Finland), Tel Aviv, Prague, Munich, Cannes short film corner, Exposures, Portugal, Italy. Locarno (Switzerland), Brest (France) and screened in Paris.
The film caught the eye of the UKFC who recommended Janis to Screen International as a 'Star of Tomorrow' as a filmmaker to look out for, and the article gave the audience a taster of what is yet to come.
Janis says: "When I was writing Blue Collars all I thought about was telling a simple story and connecting it to an audience. After making House (see Trailers) I was certain that I wanted to go back to North Wales to make my graduation film, it just felt right. There is something unique about the landscape, the people and their voice.
"You see, I am a Flint girl, I grew up in Flint during the 80s and during that period it lost an enormous part of its heart mainly due to the political turmoil of the times, when that happened it shaped a new generation of voices, my generation and my voice.
"The whole idea came from my personal story about growing up in a Flint. It's about wanting something different from what society expects from you. I come from a working class family, a family who have either worked in the service industry or in factories. We are a "production line" of blue collar workers and that's the feeling I wanted the film to have, a production line of nightmares and dreams."
Tina, the main character in the film played by Louise Kempton, walks on stilts everywhere, but it was important that whoever she encountered on her journey took absolutely no notice of that fact. The stilts are her status platform; they turn her into something different. They make her different from the rest of her family. She stands out, and that's her only desire to stand out and be viewed differently. That's a hard thing to achieve when you come from a small town where without fault to anyone, the continuation of being in work is far more important than following your dreams.
Magnificent because: She’s passionate about producing films that mean something to her rather than being driven by purely commercial concerns. With awards under her belt and film festivals clamouring to screen her work, she’s an emerging talent in British cinema.
A little bit about myself and my work
Born in the seventies in a working class industrial area of North Wales, I benefited from a proud council house upbringing (7 of us squeezed into the slapping and shouting stage) I was surrounded by dynamic and distinctly vocal working class people. Their frustrations, evolving from the constraints and limitations placed upon them by the social and historical context of the eighties and in the light of their wasted potential, was a tangible force of energy in our town. That particular energy and the tone and milieu of those times, I’ve strived to bring to my work.
I started to make ‘small’ films at the beginning of 2003 and subsequently (gratefully) I won a scholarship to study at the London Film School.
Over the last decade I have made films which express my passion, my sense of social complexities and my desire to undermine conventional realism. My work, subtly poses questions about the world in which we live, identity, class and the many manifestations (positive and negative) of love.
My work is both personal and accessible as it concerns itself with universal, shared themes, about how we connect and relate to each other in beautiful and sometimes ugly ways. Death, a somewhat western taboo is also a preoccupation of mine following the loss of three significant matriarchal figures in my life and within a very short time frame.
My use of song and music is a significant part of my work, I use it to convey the wants and desires of my characters. Music is more than mood and atmosphere it is integral and very much part of the narrative
I love the power of realism in terms of audience investment in character but I want to ‘decorate’ realism with symbolic and non-naturalistic approaches in order to provoke something more than empathy in those seeing my films.
My visual style has been described as ‘daring and quirky’, at times ‘abstract and surreal’, but it is never indulgent and is always placed very much in a relatable and believable narrative.