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SHIFTY

Director: ERAN CREEVY

U.K. • 2008 • COLOUR • DIGITAL • 86 MIN


FIRST-TIME BRITISH WRITER-DIRECTOR ERAN CREEVY DREW ON HIS OWN EXPERIENCES FOR THIS VIVIDLY SPRUNG DRAMA ABOUT A MUSLIM DRUG DEALER, AND THE RESULT HAS THE SORT OF INTIMATE AUTHENTICITY A LARGER BUDGET CAN’T BUY.

It’s not that Creevy had the money in the first place, since this offering from the Film London and BBC-sponsored Microwave scheme provides wannabe filmmakers everywhere with an inspiring indication of just what can be achieved for a mere £100,000. A tight script is obviously the key, providing the foundation for strong performances from Riz Ahmed as the eponymous smalltime supplier to a suburban housing estate, and Daniel Mays as the old pal who returns to his former stomping ground having made a new crime-free life for himself elsewhere. His visit is to coincide with Shifty’s rather more devout brother twigging just what’s been going on under his roof, and indeed the seriously heavy narcotics baron from whom Shifty receives his stuff beginning to suspect there’s trickery afoot.

It’s subject matter which lends itself to the usual cliches of the needle and the damage done, and though this is certainly a cautionary tale, it’s grown-up enough to shape its probing moral drama around the notion that Ahmed’s smart protagonist has made a tidy pile for himself that he certainly couldn’t have come by as an ordinary school-leaver. The compressed 24-hour drama makes clear however, that there are deeper issues of self-worth and indeed social value at play. The battle for Shifty’s soul is played out with tidy, neatly framed direction from Creevy and a fresh matching score from Harry Escott and Molly Nyman. — Trevor Johnston.

Irish Shorts @ IFI. This screening includes the IFB funded short Farewell Packets of Ten, Ken Wardrop’s documentary portrait of two committed smokers, Ethel and Nancy, in which they discuss their addiction to the dreaded weed. (Ireland 2008, 3 min.)

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