50 Kisses is amazing! While it could be argued I’m biased, as I a) wrote one of the segments b) got given a shiny award for doing so c) am a huge fan of Chris Jones, Judy Goldberg and the whole London Screenwriters Festival team, I assure you I’m colder than an outside toilet in Frozen, and am speaking purely from an unemotional and clinical perspective – honestly!!
Because of what I’m going to go on to say, I can be perfectly brutal here. I was not expecting to enjoy 50 Kisses.
There was part of me that was almost dreading the premiere on Thursday night. If this was going to be a shambolic mish-mash of random ideas, it was going to be a pretty high-profile embarrassment. On a pure vanity level, I was terrified of feeling like a prize idiot in my borrowed gown at a screening of something I might have to grit my teeth to get through. I am a pessimist and a cynic by nature, as those who saw the bleak story of mine that was included can attest (drunk lady at a bus stop prevents a sexual assault) so these feelings were informed by nothing other than a certain gloom that I thankfully have pills to control!
So when the first segment made me laugh out loud, and the second almost moved me to tears I’d be forgiven for thinking this was just a case of hormone imbalance. But no. This was a case of an expertly assembled, cleverly ordered, and delightfully refreshing cinematic experience!
I’m fairly used to watching numerous short films during the annual selection process for UnderWire Festival. After about 5 in a row I can get a bit twitchy. Yet I was enchanted throughout every second of 50 Kisses: 25 short films back to back! While mainstream films whitewash and sanitise, this is truly a film by the people for the people, demonstrated by a brazen and breath-taking variety of ages, races, sexualities, genres, styles, perspectives onscreen. The unexpected and unusual blended with the gloriously romantic and touching, alongside moments of total hilarity and even nauseating gore! What a relief to know how many twisted versions of love and romance there really are in the filmmaking world, instead of the boring cookie-cutter templates we’re force-fed so frequently.
Though portmanteau and ensemble pieces arrange all kinds of contrived devices to intertwine stories, a simple kiss was strong enough to unify the work in this case, and the originality of each piece shone through. Favourite among them were a hitman experiencing “a moment” with his target, exhausted parents going to desperate measures for a full night’s sleep, and heart-eating zombies. Though in all honesty, when running them over in my mind, it is a question of thinking, “Oh I loved that one too… And that one…” etc ad infinitum. While I’m sure tiny tweaks may yet need to occur during the next stage of the 50 Kisses journey for the film to find its next audience, whether on cinema, television or computer screens, this is proving to be quite an exceptional achievement for all involved.
So it turns out I’m part of something that’s pretty wonderful! Spoiled rotten on the night and made to feel quite fantastic alongside other exciting filmmakers, I know in reality that the gamble I took was tiny. In a way, I simply “showed up”! The real gambler who deserves every bit of credit for all the difficult decisions, negotiations, endless hours, limitless energy, is Chris Jones, whose cheek I managed to smear a bit of lipstick on in gratitude for being a passenger on this incredible ride. Thanks from one of your grateful screenwriters!