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Music, dreams, realities and desires to change the world in the Soho of 1959. Will they?
Harry Preston (Owen Drake) a young writer from the provinces arrives at a surreal neighbourhood in London inhabited by unconventional characters loitering with intent.
As he dissects and analyses an unusual world divorced from the rest of the city, he becomes Soho's resident philosopher of sorts.
In the pubs, cafes and dark foggy streets of the area Harry meets some of the locals. Among them, actor James Compton-Street (Chris Wellington) with whom he strikes a friendship.
He also comes across Bolex-clutching filmmakers Jo and Marcus (Emily Seale-Jones and Angus Howard) shooting a Free Cinema-style documentary of Soho and environs.
In the process of discovery, ADRIFT IN SOHO starts as a fiction of a documentary and ends as a documentary of a fiction - the film itself becomes part of an existential question about society.
The characters Harry meets are not preoccupied by the usual concerns. Are they trying to understand the world that surrounds them or are they just trying to survive it?
In the Soho of ADRIFT IN SOHO
Jazz dictates the rules of engagement.
Music commands the streets.
Booze is the currency of choice.
Drugs is the business of the future.
Love is what everybody is looking for.
Words end up in the gutter.
"The image speaks. Sound amplifies and comments. Size is irrelevant. Perfection is not an aim. An attitude means a style. A style an attitude." ~ Free Cinema Manifesto, 1956.
The Free Cinema documentaries re-created for ADRIFT IN SOHO are 'Nice Time', 'Momma Don't Allow' and the anti-nuclear 'March To Aldermaston'. ADRIFT IN SOHO was filmed as a homage to this style of filmmaking by using its ethos, techniques and subject matter.
"The film is set in anytime, anyplace. There are some clues like Soho itself and that the action happens sometime in the past. But this is uncertain. The viewer has to work it out by him or herself. This is because urban societies need an escape hatch from conventionality all the time, in all big cities." ~ Pablo Behrens, director of Adrift in Soho.
ADRIFT IN SOHO is based on the novel of the same name written by Colin Wilson and published in 1961, shortly after his more recognised work, the philosophical treatise 'The Outsider'. Colin Wilson is still influential today as a thinker of the unsual and the unknown.
Every two years the Colin Wilson Conference takes place at the University of Nottingham where people attend from all over the world and scholars are invited to present papers. Colin Wilson wrote more than 100 books, among them 'Religion and the Rebel' and 'Ritual in the Dark'.
In the film, as in the novel ADRIFT IN SOHO, the narrative follows the experiences and existential analysis of Wilson through the eyes and mind of his alter-ego Harry Preston during his stay in Soho in the Britain of the 1950s.
"Neighbourhoods sometimes become secret societies where the rigid rules of Authority are bent and broken even in democracies. Of course, never like Soho in the 1950s when the controlling austerity of a war-state made all sorts of rebels, bums, beatniks, peaceniks, drunks, artists and bohemians bunched up there over ten years until their lifestyles provided the critical mass for social change everywhere." ~ Pablo Behrens, director.
To take advantage of a visual medium the film pushes the action of the novel to a place in the surreal world of the imagination while the period of the novel is condensed into a timeless Soho where Wilson's interest in philosophical questions about existentialism and the role of the individual in urban societies are discussed with subtle dark humour.
Like a Bolex camera of the 1950s the film ADRIFT IN SOHO has three switchable camera lenses each pointing towards a different part of the story. One lens points towards the reality of what we see (the fictional and documentary formats), another one points to the surreal world of our thoughts while the third one points into the future of society and humanity as a whole. The story of ADRIFT IN SOHO happens in the mind of the viewer. What we see on the screen are only the clues.
Time does not seem to exist. Events occur, situations take place, people talk but we don't know exaclty why, when and for what. We assume the period is in the past. It's possibly 1959 if we look at the clock. Makes sense. But time doesn't seem to pass or passes very quickly. All we know is that we are definitely in Soho.
Starring Owen Drake and Chris Wellington who together with a group of amazing young actors and seasoned performers bring London's Soho of the 1950s alive in body and spirit.
ADRIFT IN SOHO - THE MOVIE is directed by Pablo Behrens in the style of a 1950s Free Cinema documentary. The script is also written by Pablo Behrens who met Colin Wilson and studied his work. After discovering that Wilson had participated in Free Cinema documentaries himself, elements of the movement were added to the movie version.
ADRIFT IN SOHO - THE MOVIE is produced by Pablo Behrens and Owen Drake. To be released in 2017.