Review: The Survivalist

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DIR/WRI: Stephen Fingleton • PRO: David Gilbery, Wayne Marc Godfrey, Robert Jones • DOP: Damien Elliott • ED: Mark Towns • DES: Dick Lunn • CAST: Olwen Fouere, Mia Goth, Martin McCann, Andrew Simpson

Stephen Fingleton’s debut feature The Survivalist follows his award-winning short SLR and Magpie. Indeed, the feature is set in the same post-apocalyptic world of the latter short in which oil dependency and food supplies plummeting create a cut-throat world that is nearly impossible to survive in. Like Magpie, The Survivalist takes place in an ambient forest which is luscious in its green colour yet haunted by death.

A young man’s body is buried in the woods by a mysterious figure in a thick green anorak. We follow the figure to the cabin in which he lives and intrigue continues to grow as we see his everyday means of living. The film evokes much Western iconography in its initial focus on the lone hero, his wooden cabin, the referencing of The Searchers in alluding to its famous doorway shot, and the deserted wilderness setting that surrounds the Survivalist. This first section of the film contains no dialogue and Martin McCann (My Boy Jack, Swansong: Story of Occi Byrne) is subtle and assured in his performance of the leading unnamed character. Our hero is efficient at making fires and growing food, even using his own bodily fluids so nothing goes to waste. However, he is lonely and constantly fearful as can be seen when he anxiously looks around him while he hastily washes some distance from his cabin retreat.

The film’s universe is characterised by paranoia, which continues when two women come to the Survivalist for help. The older, mystifying Kathryn (Olwen Fouere), offers her teenage daughter, the quiet but tough Milja (Mia Goth), to spend the night with him in exchange for food and shelter. They gradually become accepted into the Survivalist’s cabin and his way of life but the women plot to get rid of him so that they can have his crops for themselves, and there are further dangers in store for all three.

Fingleton, who also wrote the script, paints a brutal landscape of hardship and violence. Without giving too much away, its stand-out scene takes place in the rushes when the Survivalist goes in search for Milja, who is missing. Damien Elliott’s cinematography captures a gripping moment and will have you holding your breath in anticipation.

The Survivalist is a raw film and fairly difficult to watch at times. The graphic imagery includes full frontal (male and female) nudity, rotting flesh, maggots, masturbation, periods, and bloody internal organs. It is one of the more original post-apocalyptic films to be released as of late and is a curiously thought-provoking one at that, but its bleakness will not appeal to all audiences.

Deirdre Molumby

 18 (See IFCO for details)

 103 minutes

The Survivalist is released 12th February 2016

The Survivalist – Official Website

 

 

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Trailer: The Survivalist

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Bulldog Film Distribution today released the first trailer for the captivating thriller The Survivalist (Cert 18), which will be released in Irish cinemas on February 12th 2016.  Filmed in Northern Ireland, the film stars Martin McCann (’71, Jump, Killing Bono), Mia Goth (Nymphomaniac Part II, A Cure For Wellness) and Olwen Fouéré (This Must be the Place).

 

 

 

The Survivalist was written and directed by Northern Ireland-born Stephen Fingleton, who has picked up a number of accolades for his work on the film, including; Best Debut Director at the British Independent Film Awards, Best New Narrative Director and Special Jury Mention at Tribeca, and most recently, a nomination in the Outstanding Debut category of the British Academy Film Awards.

 

In a kill-or-be-killed world where starvation is rife and strangers are always dangerous, The Survivalist lives off the grid, and by his wits.  When a starving woman and her teenage daughter discover his forest refuge, his loneliness drives him to overcome his suspicion and strike a bargain with them in return for bed and board.  But as desire becomes stronger than necessity, the exchange becomes an uneasy, ongoing arrangement which threatens not only his carefully constructed world but also his life.

 

A captivating thriller, The Survivalist marks the feature debut of writer-director Stephen Fingleton.  The Survivalist was produced by Wayne Marc Godfrey (Silence, Cake), Robert Jones (The Usual Suspects, Babylon) and David Gilbery (Bone Tomahawk) through The Fyzz Facility.  Shot in Northern Ireland the film was financed by The Fyzz Facility, BFI and Northern Ireland Screen in association with Goldcrest.

 

The Survivalist opens in selected cinemas across Ireland on February 12th 2016.

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Review of Irish Film at Galway Film Fleadh: The Survivalist

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Deirdre Molumby finds herself in a post-apocalyptic world in The Survivalist, which screened at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh.

On introducing this film, Programmer for the Galway Film Fleadh Gar O’Brien emphasised how the Fleadh nurtures talent. They help directors make the transition from shorts to features through the screening and promotion of Irish filmmakers’ work. So has been the case for Stephen Fingleton, whose debut feature The Survivalist follows his award-winning short SLR and Magpie. Indeed, the feature is set in the same post-apocalyptic world of the latter short in which oil dependency and food supplies plummeting create a cut-throat world that is nearly impossible to survive in. Like Magpie, The Survivalist takes place in an ambient forest which is luscious in its green colour yet haunted by death.

A young man’s body is buried in the woods by a mysterious figure in a thick green anorak. We follow the figure to the cabin in which he lives and intrigue continues to grow as we see his everyday means of living. The film evokes much Western iconography in its initial focus on the lone hero, his wooden cabin, the referencing of The Searchers in alluding to its famous doorway shot, and the deserted wilderness setting that surrounds the Survivalist. This first section of the film contains no dialogue and Martin McCann (My Boy Jack, Swansong: Story of Occi Byrne) is subtle and assured in his performance of the leading unnamed character. Our hero is efficient at making fires and growing food, even using his own bodily fluids so nothing goes to waste. However, he is lonely and constantly fearful as can be seen when he anxiously looks around him while he hastily washes some distance from his cabin retreat.

The film’s universe is characterised by paranoia, which continues when two women come to the Survivalist for help. The older, mystifying Kathryn (Olwen Fouere – The Other Side of Sleep, This Must Be the Place), offers her teenage daughter, the quiet but tough Milja (Mia Goth – Magpie, Nymphomaniac: Vol. II), to spend the night with him in exchange for food and shelter. They gradually become accepted into the Survivalist’s cabin and his way of life but the women plot to get rid of him so that they can have his crops for themselves, and there are further dangers in store for all three.

Fingleton, who also wrote the script, paints a brutal landscape of hardship and violence. Without giving too much away, its stand-out scene takes place in the rushes when the Survivalist goes in search for Milja, who is missing. Damien Elliott’s cinematography captures a gripping moment and will have you holding your breath in anticipation.

The Survivalist is a raw film and fairly difficult to watch at times. The graphic imagery includes full frontal (male and female) nudity, rotting flesh, maggots, masturbation, periods, and bloody internal organs. It is one of the more original post-apocalyptic films to be released as of late and is a curiously thought-provoking at that, but its bleakness will not appeal to all audiences. Having already won an award at Tribeca for Best New Narrative Director – Special Jury Mention, this provocative film is well suited to the festival circuit.

 

The Survivalist screened on Friday, 10th July as part of the Galway Film Fleadh (7 – 12 July 2015)

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Video: Olaf Tyaransen Interviews Martin McCann

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In this video interview from the Galway Film Fleadh, Martin McCann talks about Oscar-nominated short film Boogaloo and Graham, which screened at last year’s festival, getting his accent right for Killing Bono, and his involvement  in Stephen Fingleton’s debut feature, The Survivalist, which screened this year. Martin also looks back at his early days of acting and gives aspiring actors a few tips.

 

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