“When I was fifty six I went mute for ten days.” – Katherine Amesbury
The 70-minute experimental / narrative feature film “The Silence After Life” is released today, along with its Official Film Soundtrack album. This follows its win of Best Actress at the Brighton Rocks International Film Festival and its official selections for the Ramsgate and London Rocks International Film Festivals.
To mark the film’s release Fluid Radio have been given 25 free rentals to share: please use the code “FLUID” when ordering from here.
“The Silence After Life” is Daniel Thomas Freeman’s debut as a film writer / director and it builds on his previous solo music work and his ten years as part of the South London ambient / drone / folk trio Rameses III. This new project has involved over a hundred people and has taken five years to complete, including over two years to edit the film and to create the extensive and immersive sound design and score.
The film is an experimental drama / meditation on grief, spirituality and the beauty of nature. It uses minimal dialogue and takes cinematic inspiration from Andrei Tarkovsky, David Lynch, Shane Carruth, Peter Strickland, Sally Potter and Derek Jarman. It stars Sally Mortemore (“Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”, “Game of Thrones”) who plays a lonely woman in her fifties who, after a serious accident, experiences intense visions as she loses her voice and runs away from home to live rough in the beauty of the English woods. Sally is supported by actors Emma Spearing (“Red Call”), Lucy Alfred and David Broughton-Davies.
Making “The Silence After Life” started after Daniel’s intense but wonderful experience of working with screenwriters / directors Daniel and Matthew Wolfe to co-write the music score for their feature “Catch Me Daddy” (2014, STUDIOCANAL / Film4 / BFI). Seeing edit after edit of that film over a period of nine months unexpectedly awakened a 35 year old dream of filmmaking.
Although a newcomer to making features, Daniel had extensive experience of writing, producing, editing and releasing slow-change music so a cinematic equivalent of this music seemed possible, if ambitious. “A Book of Silence” by Sara Maitland was a key inspiration for this film; her literary documentation of how the edges of our material world can blur and shimmer when we are faced with silence reflected his own personal experiences. The slowness, emptiness and loneliness of grief is depicted less often onscreen, particularly in terms of a spiritual reaction, so this felt like a subject worth tackling.
The choice to make main character Katherine mute for most of the film was therefore not just a way of making space for the score but was actually a key part of pushing the film beyond narrative and into gut-level experience. Although she is largely silent, Katherine was always written as a complex character; seemingly strong and aloof but also a vulnerable, awkward and lonely outsider.
Another reason for the minimal dialogue and extensive use of visions and nature is to very purposefully leave the narrative open to interpretation. Grief and spirituality are such personal experiences that Daniel wanted to give audiences the space for their own thoughts, feelings, beliefs and reactions. As such the film has been designed to be more visceral, raw, slow and beautiful than intellectual, rational, prescriptive or immediate.
Although the film centres on grief and spirituality, it also touches on the traditional and understandable divide between the LGBTQ+ and faith communities and gently imagines what a reconciliation of that divide might (and in some cases already does) look like.
The film is available now to buy or rent and is currently in consideration for this year’s British Independent Film Awards.
“Haunting … Wonderful performances” – Brenda Blethyn, Oscar Nominee
“Packed with gravitas and pathos, power and beauty” – Brighton Rocks Film Festival
“An intensely poetic meditation on life, grief and spirituality” – Ramsgate International Film & TV Festival