UK 2007, 100 mins
Director: Joanna Hogg

Unrelated is that rare creature, a genuinely independent British film. It’s the story of Anna, a childless woman in her forties adrift among a holidaying group of English families in Tuscany, and is daring for dealing with uncharming bourgeoisie and for its contemplative, anti-dramatic style. It’s also the first feature of a director with a CV of television dramas such as Casualty and London’s Burning.

Joanna Hogg was a stills photographer who began making 8mm films (inspired by Derek Jarman) and won a place at the National Film and Television School in the 1980s. Gritty social realism was expected of Hogg, but her graduation film was a mini-Hollywood musical. ‘It came out of my love for Lubitsch. Janet Street-Porter saw it and got me to do a mini-soap opera for Network 7. I made it with very saturated colours and over-the-top performances.’

In the months off from her busy television career, Hogg began writing her own scripts, but never got as far as raising the money. ‘I broke out of that pattern with Unrelated by setting myself the deadline of the summer when I had to shoot it.’

Hogg is open about the fact that the idea of a woman facing a childless future came out of her own experience. ‘I was at a point in my life when I felt very sad that I wasn’t going to have children, and I wanted to take the essence of that sadness and create something positive from it.’ Her triumph is to tell the larger story of an outsider in a society built on family security. Inspiration also came from reading Death in Venice and The Go-Between, both narratives about the crises faced by protagonists on holiday (though the style of Unrelated is far removed from the film adaptations of those books).

Unrelated was a micro-budget production in a single location, employing a tiny crew and a group of unknown actors who, like the characters they played, lived together for two months. Shot superbly on what she describes as ‘amateur’ Hi Def (HDV), it was important to Hogg that the cameras were portable so that she could react to situations quickly. ‘Above all we could shoot in chronological order – that was good, as tensions naturally built up, so I would shift things in the direction they were going in real life.’

Although the bourgeoisie as a subject poses no problem in other countries (think of Summer Hours), in Britain it’s a milieu few filmmakers investigate. ‘A lot of my scripts were about people like those in Unrelated and the reason they didn’t go further was because I felt I’d be criticised. A character like Oakley, the boy Anna is drawn to, has an attractive ease about him – and that’s very annoying to some people. I don’t want to judge him, but I fully understand why that sense of privilege annoys people.’

Hogg is determined to continue in this vein – ‘Now I’ve done it, I’m going to do it again!’ – and to retain total independence. ‘The next couple of projects I’m planning are also contained, with no need for stars or expensive locations, which is a liberating thing. I don’t see any pleasure in bigger budgets.’
David Thompson, Sight and Sound, November 2008

Until now Joanna Hogg was most familiar to industry insiders as a soap director (she was the first woman to helm an episode of London’s Burning). But Unrelated is no kitchen-sink melodrama. Eschewing the working-class realism of Lynne Ramsay and Amma Asante, Hogg has crafted a finely tuned study of bourgeois manners that has more in common with the pared-down narratives and painterly compositions of rural idylls found in the films of Ozon or Rohmer. Lead actress Kathryn Worth bears a striking resemblance to Rohmer regular Marie Rivière and offers a similarly understated performance, working with sparse dialogue to create a character who is as irritating as she is affecting.

Childless and in a deteriorating marriage, Anna finds herself in the grip of a mid-life crisis that she deals with by trying to recapture her lost adolescence, immersing herself in the company of the children of her for schoolfriend Verona while on holiday in Siena. There is little action to speak of; instead the film centres on Anna’s inner trajectory as she gradually realises the impossibility of this flight into youth and comes to terms with the isolation of age. Yet the psychodrama that unfolds is gripping, with Hogg’s sensitive screenplay (co-written with script supervisor Sarah Doughty) emphasising the devastation a careless word or misinterpreted gesture can wreak.

If the film’s style and aesthetic offer little to suggest its Anglo-Saxon provenance, its depiction of the British chattering classes is perfectly pitched. The supporting cast of professionals and non-professionals provide a painfully accurate backdrop of aspiration and awkwardness, in particular Tom Hiddleston, Henry Lloyd-Hughes and Harry Kershaw as a trio of public schoolboys who swing between bumbling teens and burgeoning lotharios as they hurry towards adulthood. Campari is sipped on lawns, parlour games are played in candlelit villas and the young ones’ smoke in front of the liberal ‘olds’. It’s the modern-day take on E.M. Forster that Stephen Poliakoff and Woody Allen have tried – and failed – to capture.
Catherine Wheatley, Sight and Sound, March 2008

Directed by: Joanna Hogg
©: Raw Siena Limited
Production Company: Raw Siena Limited
Produced by: Barbara Stone
Accountancy: Chantrey Vellacott DFK
Production Co-ordinator: Louise Alaimo
Location Manager: Paolo Guglielmotti
Runners: Ethan Stone, Sophie Clarke, Christian Mazzeschi
1st Assistant Director: Paolo Guglielmotti
2nd Assistant Director: Simon Joslin
Script Supervisor: Sara J. Doughty
Casting Director: Lucy Bevan
Screenplay: Joanna Hogg
Director of Photography: Oliver Curtis
1st Assistant Camera: Hilda Sealy, Stuart Godfrey
2nd Assistant Camera: Tom Shkolnik, Albert Bentall
Editor: Helle Le Fevre
Assembly Editor: Richard Hughes
Assistant Editors: Chris Mill, Chloe Carleton
Production Designer: Stephane Collonge
Digital Intermediate: FrameStore (Colourist: Brian Krijgsman; Production Manager: Mike Morrison; Conform Editor: Dan Victoire; Head of Digital Lab: Ben Baker; Executive Producer: Jan Hogevold; Data Operations: Simon Wessely, David Johnston; Retouch & Restoration: Adam Hawkes; HD Mastering: Kevin Lowery; Digital Lab Engineering: Ian Redmond; Scanning/Recording Manager: Andy Burrow; Deputy Shoot Supervisor: Dan Perry; Scanning/Recording Operators: Jimmy Saul, Joseph Hoare, Veronica Marcano, Joe Godfrey)
Colour by: Technicolor
Music Adviser: Lars Kronlund
Sound Recordist: Chris McDermott
Boom Operator: Oliver McDermott
Sound Post-production: Loudhailer
Re-recording Mixers: Samir Foco, Jovan Ajder
Dolby Encoding: De Lane Lea Post Production Ltd
Supervising Sound Editor: Jovan Ajder
Sound Effects Editor: Peter Crooks
Legal Services: Simons Muirhead & Burton
Chefs: Charlotte Faber, Gail Sturgis

Kathryn Worth (Anna)
Tom Hiddleston (Oakley)
Mary Roscoe (Verena)
David Rintoul (George)
Henry Lloyd-Hughes (Jack)
Michael Hadley (Charlie)
Emma Hiddleston (Badge)
Harry Kershaw (Archie)
Leonetta Mazzini, Giovanna Mennell, Jonathan Mennell, Elisabetta Fiorentini, Giuseppe Fiorentini, Beatrice Ferné Fiorentini, Andrea Fiorentini, Benedetto Fiorentini, Nicoleta Stroe, Luisa Bartolomei, Francesca Capaccioli, Francesco Masocco, Peo the dog, Apache the dog (themselves)

UK 2007©
100 mins

Mon 16 Oct 20:35; Sat 25 Nov 18:10
Thu 19 Oct 18:10; Wed 29 Nov 20:50
Thu 19 Oct 20:30; Sun 26 Nov 15:00
The Souvenir
Fri 27 Oct 20:30; Thu 30 Nov 18:10
The Souvenir: Part II
Sat 28 Oct 20:30; Thu 30 Nov 20:40
Short Films
Sun 29 Oct 18:10; Tue 28 Nov 20:45

Criss Cross
Tue 17 Oct 20:40; Sun 26 Nov 18:40
Wed 18 Oct 20:45; Sat 21 Oct 18:20
The Exiles + Bunker Hill 1956
Thu 19 Oct 18:20; Tue 24 Oct 20:40
Lady in the Dark
Fri 20 Oct 18:10; Sat 11 Nov 12:20
Sat 21 Oct 20:10; Sat 4 Nov 17:30
The Killers
Sat 28 Oct 12:30; Wed 8 Nov 20:45
Ticket of No Return Bildnis einer Trinkerin
Sun 12 Nov 18:30; Sat 25 Nov 20:30
Journey to Italy Viaggio in Italia
Fri 17 Nov 18:20; Tue 28 Nov 18:15
Italianamerican + The Neighborhood + extract from My Voyage to Italy
Tue 21 Nov 20:40; Mon 27 Nov 18:20

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Programme notes and credits compiled by Sight and Sound and the BFI Documentation Unit
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