Review: World Premier of On Landguard Point, Pacitti Company, Ipswich Film Theatre, Thursday June 21.

One of the fears of reviewing is knowing the artist or knowing they’re from your town and hoping you’re going to like the piece to avoid having to write some unwelcome truths. I need not have feared so with Robert Pacitti’s first triumphal film On Landguard Point.

Ipswich-raised Pacitti has used the Cultural Olympiad opportunity to create a visually stunning film, exploring some of what makes the landscape here, both human and geological, so unique.

Pacitti distils, as a perfumer would, the essence of melancholia, insularity and the contradictory open mindedness and stoicism that underlies so much of our shared emotional palette in the coastal parts of Suffolk. I saw in the film a geographically and economically deterministic link between the bleakness and homely beauty of East Suffolk – our logistical links to the world and the peculiar (to here) nature of ourselves. It’s a delicate thing to do, pulled off with visionary beauty and exquisite empathy.

The beauty of On Landguard Point lies very strongly in it’s visuals and narration. Across much of the film Pacitti’s prose overlays a startling imagery. From synchronised swimmers, to singing fishwives, a brass band and the consistent use of black (black labrador, black flags and black huts). His use of quintessentially Suffolk imagery (such as the Suffolk Punches) neatly juxtaposes the beauty of our coast with a saturnine yet optimistic and embracing quality.

The use of music is strong. Michael Nyman’s score (an amazing coup) works well with the film although the loss of diction in opera singer Marie Angel’s voice is a real shame. Other pieces work equally, particularly the fishwives singing (I thought of Bowie’s video to Ashes to Ashes) and the brass band.

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Pacitti says he hopes to make another film. I very much hope he does. His use of visual imagery is very strong and he has much to say about our interaction with place, home and connections. As a first film it is a triumph. With subsequent films his technique (he needs to learn more about cinematography in order to express his ideas even better) will improve.

I’m confident this film will be considered important in the small canon of films dedicated to our lives in the east. That’s some accomplishment from a first-time director.

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So another boy from Ipswich returns a talented man. From what I hear Mr Pacitti, and his talented company, will be with us for some time to come. Welcome home Robert. Keep creating, remind us whom we are and tell our story you are very welcome.

Andrew Cann

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