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Home > Film

All Hail the New Dawn of British Film

By John Camm

12 September 2003

Some plans just aren't much good. Like Gallipoli, for example, or fighting fire with fire, or fighting fire with dried pine branches, or reducing crime with transcendental meditation and Yogic flying.

In this spirit, the British film industry and the Government have come up with a plan that looks set to restore our film industry to the glory days of Ealing. That plan is... kitemarks!

Kitemarks are those British Standard thingies you get on various products to reassure the consumer that what they've just bought is a sub-standard, over-priced item which isn’'t qualitatively different from the same thing made in Taiwan for a fraction of the cost but DOES MEET ALL RELEVANT BRITISH STANDARDS, i.e. candle holders must not be made out of petrol.

Now the kitemark is being applied to the film industry, where apparently apprenticeships are a thing of the past, and youngsters considering a career in film are instead faced with literally hundreds of courses with the word 'film' in the title.

The film industry wants some of these (presumably the most practical ones) to be kitemarked so that students will know which are bona fide routes to real jobs like lighting technician or sound recordist, as opposed to spending three years writing essays about gender roles in The Full Monty.

But are these kitemarks really what the British film industry needs? I would like to suggest some alternatives...

The Quirkmark.

This variation on the kitemark is awarded to any British film that has abandoned any attempt at thematic depth or gravitas and instead opts for 'quintessential British quirkiness' as its main selling point, eg. Calendar Girls. Quirkmarks have recently been awarded to the forthcoming feature films Murder on the Titfield Thunderbolt and Fred Dibnah: The Movie.

The Shitemark. This is awarded to any British film that doesn't really resemble a film that has been made by professional writers, directors, actors etc. See: The Parole Officer.

The Not-Quitemark. Awarded to the innumerable British films that fall slightly short of excellence, eg. Human Traffic and About A Boy (what WAS that ending all about?)

The Curtmark. Named after comedy supremo Richard Curtis, this mark is awarded to any film that paints a ludicrously idealised picture of life in Britain. Curtmarks would be awarded to any film depicting a Britain that is unrecognisable to the average Brit, and in which everyone lives in stately homes/luxury flats and either speaks as though they’ve just wandered out of Brideshead Revisited or Oliver. To qualify for a Curtmark, a films should also have Rowan Atkinson in them, putting on a performance that only a retarded American 3 year old could find either funny or convincing.

The Tritemark. Awarded to any contemporary film with a message that's so heavily signposted it may as well have been made by the Highways Agency. Tritemarks have thus far been awarded to Brassed Off (message: 'post-industrial decline is bad') and 24 Hour Party People (message: 'Madchester was, like, fookin' mental, man.') To fully relive the experience of watching 24 Hour Party People, just repeat the previous phrase to yourself for a whole hour and
a half.

For a big old review of 24 Hour Party People, go here.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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