The Uncertain Kingdom: An anthology of films painting a portrait of a nation

The Uncertain Kingdom is an anthology of 20 short films from 20 directors exploring the biggest issues in these troubled times, including climate change, migration and homelessness, starring the likes of Alice Lowe, Mark Addy, Hugh Dennis and Andy Hamilton. Some of the directors tell us about their films and how they build a unique portrait of our nation today

Stronger is Better than Angry by Hope Dickson Leach 

“I came up with this story when taking body combat classes, which were helping me deal with all the frustrations and anger I felt during the initial MeToo revelations. I felt that we were, for the first time, seeing women get publicly angry and it was cathartic, but I was questioning what happened to all this anger that we were generating. Was it effective, or was it just hurting us? From refugee stories to casual sexism to violence against women, there are so many things that women are facing today, and in many cases, we feel helpless to address them as the systems are stacked against us. Women are still not believed or listened to. This has to change.”

Isaac and the Ram by Jason Bradbury

“Isaac And The Ram is an emotional thriller that follows Isaac, a homeless gay teenager, who is offered a place to stay for the night by Hank, a misanthropic nightclub bouncer, after getting mugged by a gang. However, in the dark, the walls they built to lock away their pasts start to crack, threatening their uneasy truce.

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“It’s estimated that 24 per cent of homeless people identify as LGBTIQ+, that’s a staggeringly disproportionate figure often overlooked, even within the LGBTIQ+ community.  We believe that by opening a window on these strangers’ lives, we can begin to see the shared humanity that connects us all. I wanted to push the viewer outside their comfort zone, placing them in the same vulnerable and dangerous position that so many young queer people find themselves in.

“I think this is an important story to be telling now because it challenges the illusion of equality that we have within the LGBTIQ+ community. Whilst we have made considerable progress, this mainly benefits a very narrow demographic within the community and we need to do more to help those that have been left behind. Reduced funding, understaffing and inadequate training all feed into why LGBTIQ+ people, especially the young, feel safer being part of the ‘hidden homeless’ than accessing mainstream services.”

Motherland by Ellen Evans

“Our documentary is about two young men who grew up in Britain, but who have been forcibly returned to Jamaica following prison sentences. In the wake of the Windrush scandal, the issue of deportation has become a better publicised issue. Less talked however is how the Hostile Environment policy affects those with criminal convictions; how the Home Office regularly deports young men to places they haven’t lived in since early childhood, often separating them from their British partners and children in the process.

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“Films are emotive by their very nature. It’s much more affecting to hear someone tell their own story – to be able to see them and hear them, than to have their words reported back in an article. (Although of course good journalism serves an equally important purpose!)”


The Conversation by Larne Malaolu

“My film explores the conversation black people face when communicating their racial experience to white partners through a dynamic fusion of dance and dialogue.

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It was inspired by my own experiences talking to white people about race and privilege and the challenges I sometimes faced. It feels like the insidious effects structural racism are more prevalent now than ever. As cliché as it is, I hope the film sparks more conversations, but ones that can be had with more openness.

Ernie by Ray Panthaki

“Ernie tells the story of a 55-year-old vulnerable loner who is a carer for his elderly racist father, whilst trying to navigate a world in which he doesn’t quite fit in. It touches on a number of social issues most notably, toxic masculinity, loneliness, bullying and mental illness. Despite each of these issues having always existed, they seem to be at epidemic proportions right now. Film can help inspire social change and educate viewers on things outside of their own perspective whilst still being entertaining and enticing to watch. That’s the winning formula in my eyes. If we were to all spread more love and serve others more than ourselves, we’d have a foundation to build so much from.”

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Left Coast by Carol Salter

“Left Coast looks at the dedicated volunteers who run foodbanks in Fleetwood and Blackpool. They are the backbone, without them food banks could not function.

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“For thousands of people in poverty in the UK, every day is uncertain. Food banks originally started to help people in an emergency but have now unfortunately become the norm for thousands of people who can’t afford to buy food. Why are we allowing people to live off supermarket waste and charity? We need a radical transformation of our welfare benefits system so no one is dependent on food banks.”

What’s in a Name? by Runyararo Mapfumo

“My film is a series of conversations with collaborators discussing what their names mean to them. It’s a celebration of diverse British identities exploring the history, heritage and obstacles experienced by those marked out as “different” by their names. When we mispronounce a name, we distort that person’s identity, without their permission. It suggests that the individual is not worth identifying correctly.

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“I was inspired to make this documentary after many years of thinking about my own name and my connection to it. I love my name but found that so often I’d be asked to shorten or change it for other people. In some cases for jobs. I was curious to explore why this might be and whether this is something that other people face. Having spoken to over 50 people over the course of a year, I heard so many similar stories ranging from awkward interactions and microaggressions but also stories of self-acceptance and pride. At a time where barriers and borders are being put up, it felt important to draw attention to communities and individuals that are an essential part of the UK. This celebration of a very specific aspect of our identity hopefully feels like a quiet rebellion towards an exclusive culture or mindset.”

Sucka Punch by Iggy Ldn

“Sucka Punch is a short film about a young girl who tells her audience about the insidious ways brands use social media to connect with the younger generation – persuading them to connect to the digital world for their own commercial gain. She encourages us to start a revolution all in the name of humanity.

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“With the advancement of social media and it forming part of the way communicate and consume everyday content, I wanted to explore the fine line between truth and false and how social media blurs the lines even further. The way we consume content has definitely changed the way we operate a society. We seem to be more present in the digital world than in our real world. As we watch Sarah, the main protagonist, as the story unfolds, we are lulled into a false sense of security; we begin to realise that we are being sold something other than a depiction of a true story. It requires the audience to ask questions; to not just consider the content we consume at face value.”

The Uncertain Kingdom is  available via BFI player, Curzon Home Cinema, iTunes, GooglePlay