July Worksheet

A Perfect Enemy

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Jaret Martino – Director Donna: Stronger Than Pretty

Interview with Jaret Martino the director of Donna: Stronger Than Pretty, a moving drama based on the true story about his mother’s struggle with domestic abuse whilst raising a family in Long Island, New York. Jaret has become a champion for women’s empowerment in the film industry.

(Listen to the audio here)

Please introduce yourself.

Hi I’m Jaret Martino, the director of Donna: Stronger Than Pretty.

Tell me about your film that has just been released.

It’s actually released on iTunes Donna: Stronger Than Pretty, July 24th available everywhere worldwide where you buy and rent movies. 

So, Donna is my mother, so it is my mother’s true story and it’s her journey of her escape of domestic violence but more than that the journey of a woman finding her voice.

A very personal story but maybe one that would be kept private. So, how did the film come about?

I think that you just touched upon a big inspiration that it is very much kept private a lot of the time and we’ve seen movies, different versions of this story but I really wanted to focus on the empowerment of leaving, creating a life for yourself and your children because that’s what I watched our mum do. She really focused on the positive part of rebuilding her life and making a life for herself and her children.

We don’t really see that. We see film and TV playing into the stereo types and stigmas of domestic violence. I think it takes films like this and art to help undo 1,000s of years of damage because women have been held back from men for a really long time.

At first my company is very much about hiring females, I was adamant about a female director, but I really wanted it to be my mum’s authentic true story so I ended up directing the film because I wanted it to be her true story. Other directors wanted to stamp their pain on it which is fine for another story just not this time around.

I have produced 20 other projects that we’ve hired all predominantly female crew on and minorities so focusing on diversity and inclusion is a big thing for us.

Could you go into more detail about the film and how you made the film and how you cast the film?

You know, it was definitely…I wrote the film almost as a journal entry but I wrote it in screenplay format, since I’ve been an actor since I was a kid, it was just the easiest way to get it down. I wrote it between two flights. I was travelling back and forth to New York between New York and LA at that point. So we ended up doing a stage reading almost 8 years ago now and a lot of the key cast like Kate Amundsen who plays Donna and Anthony Ficco who plays Nic, the two stars and a lot of other people have stayed on board with us for the past 8 years, which as many know in the industry that’s not typical. So it was really important to me because they all became an extended family. It went from a stage reading to table reads, multiple table-reads after that for notes and the short film which premiered at the Indie Lounge at Sundance and it kind of went worldwide with that to different festivals and that really created our partnership with the national coalition against domestic violence where my mum and I spent a lot of time getting to know everybody there helping and we spoke at the conference in 2017 in front of 1000 advocates.

It was really in that moment that I … besides it just being a passion project to get my mother’s story out there I was one of 3 guys out of 1000 advocates, you know it was predominantly female in that room so I just knew there needs to be more done. There needs to be more men coming to the table to talk about this and to talk about a subject that doesn’t get…you know gets swept under the rug too often.

So we band together and made the feature film happen and Kate got to walk in my mother’s footsteps. She actually…my mum gave up her bed, she slept in my mum’s room while my mum was at her parent’s house. So Kate really, it came full circle, she got to see Donna’s actual home, and what she created and we shot some of the scenes, the later scenes after she becomes a teacher and she starts making and building that home.

So it was incredible for Kate as an actor to do…to be able to be a part of that, and you know really special for us and the family to, really hard, obviously difficult to be on set as the director I was reliving a lot of moments that are very vivid for me. So…but as hard as it was, you know I was hyper focused on the mission of helping other people escape their situations. So…but…It was definitely one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done in my life. Going from director to then I had to play myself at one point later on in the film. So…it was pretty wild. I never give that advice…you know I think each job is so unique, so I don’t really like to do the cross-over and I don’t promote that and I’ve seen people sabotage their projects doing…juggling all those really big jobs. I just was left no choice because we had to do character matches and we were under budget constraints and things like that.

I’m really proud of it, you know it’s part of my mum’s legacy. She passed away unfortunately this past September 3rd of 2020 rather quickly of pancreatic cancer. So…it was…She never actually got to see the release of the film. Because ultimately…she got to see the premiere and like starting the festival rout, but…and she knew that the film was getting distribution but she didn’t make it to the distribution date.

(Audio End)

It’s an amazing tribute and dedication. The locations showed the difficult times as well as the huge mansions you lived in. Were they a true reflection?

Definitely, I mean I think you know that is a big part of the history, I’m really proud of creating like a time capsule with this film too, so much has changed just in the past couple of years.  A big thing on the east coast, is that all the time everyone settled in Brooklyn in the inner cities, so moving out to Long Island was very much part of my mum’s upbringing. Her parents, like many parents, moving from Brooklyn in the boroughs out to the suburbs because there was more space. She grew up in I think a one bedroom apartment and they had a ton of family over, they had the big Italian Sunday dinners and they’d all just squeeze in and make it work. They all moved out eventually as the families grew and a lot of people ended up on Long Island, where there was just more room and bigger houses. So that definitely matches my mum’s true story as well.

There are some strong New York accents which match with your mum who speaks at the end of the film.

That’s a compliment to Kate and Anthony because they actually are both not from New York they are both from or grew up on the West Coast. So they’ll be happy to hear that. It was fun, we had over 200 actors, there is such a wealth of talent in New York City, a lot of theatre trained actors, it was really fun to get back to the East Coast myself because I’ve been in L.A.

The relationship between the 2 lead actors show how things don’t always go the way you want them to in life and love, and the relationship starts in a slightly wild way.

Which was fun for my mum, a lot of women can relate to, she grew up in a catholic school, she has a catholic school background. You know meets this fun eccentric guy who was kind of a little dangerous and mysterious to her. Kate and Antony got to know my mum really well and the family and our co-writer Pat Branch spoke to my mum at length and read her journal, her actual journal entries through that time. Thankfully Pat came on board and I didn’t have to dive into that too much because I felt I knew enough and I had so much on my plate, that I didn’t want to know any more of the details but that really helped Pat finesse the story and pull it together and make it the screen play that it is. I wrote the heartbeat of it, but it was 150 pages and it was an enormous job to get everything in there and bring it down to ultimately 97 pages and that’s really with the help of Pat Branch, she’s a WGA screen writer and she became, she likes to say, she is an honorary Martino now, and is part of the family now. She has been through every major and even the little details too, she has really been a part of the whole making of the film.

Anthony plays the bad guy, your dad, but there was also a charming side too.

What I liked about Anthony, what I always said, he didn’t play him trying to demonise him, we never wanted to demonise the character because it’s about conditioning. So my dad didn’t necessarily want to become that. He does have a good heart, he wanted better but he just didn’t know better because he watched his dad do the same thing and that’s very much a part of the story. I think that’s the biggest message for men that don’t want to abuse, it’s a really good look into how you can become your parents really quickly. 

And then for women you know the biggest message is, it is not your fault. I think that you know you always try to drive that home and now I’ve worked with 1000s of domestic violence victims and trying to turn the victims into survivors. I think that’s the most crucial point because emotional, verbal, physical, financial abuse really has them broken down and they lose their sense of selflove and you know I think that definitely is the biggest thing for women to walk away with, that they are valuable and that their heart matters, their voice matters and it is not their fault even though they might have gone through this situation and maybe even contributed in certain ways. It becomes a cycle and a pattern and that is the hardest part to break because there is love there. No one is going to fall in love with somebody that slaps them in the face immediately on the first date, that just doesn’t typically happen, that’s not the real life version of how people get caught in these toxic situations.

Coming from a broken home with divorced parents is quite common unfortunately

I have a different perspective on it because we thought we were the richest kids on the block. My mum filled the house with love, we did everything and more. It might have been free – free theatre or free events. She was always finding things to do, so she very much walked away from a different lifestyle in terms of the support and what she could have had easier but we gained so much, so much love and respect and really grounding and values. I looked back on my childhood and I think that was really a huge inspiration for making the film that my mum just did such a remarkable job.

The wardrobe stood out as something important to show as part of your mum’s story

My mum made her own clothes, she made our clothes, we matched on Easter Sunday. She still made it all happen which was part of the beauty about who she is. So that was definitely important and I happened to be blessed with a neighbour who was a vintage costume designer and had a whole load of really beautiful pieces and then we just went to the thrift stores locally and pulled from the shops and it was just a lot of fun. Kate actually loves that era, her essence is the 70s, so she definitely kind of encapsulated that.

It was a long film that includes interviews with your mum at the end. Was it hard to leave anything out?

It was only 97 pages ultimately, but once you put all the B roll in there and everything and when you span 40 years, it is really hard and we needed to tell this story beginning to end because of the conditioning part of it. Getting the sense of the 60s, the 70s, the 80s, the 90s was really, really important because it shows how far we’ve come but it also shows how much more work we need to do here in 2021.

For more about Donna: Stronger than Pretty go to www.donnathemovie.com

Film: Donna: Stronger Than Pretty

Director:  Jaret Martino

Stars: Kate Amundsen, Anthony Ficco, Catharine Daddario

Genre: Drama

Run time: 1hr 50min


Mosley: It’s Complicated

Mosley: It’s Complicated is a F1 Motor Racing sports documentary with a difference as it looks at one of the leading figures that has made the sport what it is today but who himself has had his own chequered past filled with controversy and scandal. Available to watch in selected UK Cinemas from 9th July, with tickets available here and available on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital Download from 19th July.

This is the story of Max Mosley, the recently passed away Formula 1 motor racing pioneer, as influential and high profile a figure as you can get in the racing industry. It features interviews from some of the most important figures in motorsport, like his long-time pal and collaborator Bernie Ecclestone, and documents some of the most historic developments of F1 through the life story of this major British influencer at its heart. 

Over the 1 hour 35 minutes it retells how he first got into racing as a driver himself in a quite random fashion before retiring relatively early due to safety concerns. He would then go on to begin his own start up Formula 1 team at March with a pal from Uni and, from an old disused dairy factory, they turned the Formula One industry on its head by outperforming all of the leading manufacturers. Later on in his career he would become instrumental in the development and safety improvements of what we now know as modern Formula One racing and eventually hold the top position as president of the FIA (Formula One Association).

As well as being admired and respected he was vilified by the media and made several enemies in the racing industry not least during the infamous F1 Spy-gate scandal between Ferrari and McLaren. Here he tries to put the record straight as he talks about his family’s dark history and their association with Hitler and fascism (Hitler and Goebbels actually attended his father’s wedding). This marked his early years and put a halt to an ill-fated brush with politics but that tumultuous beginning would return to haunt him towards the end of his career. He was caught up in an incredible entrapment scandal with the media after being captured on camera having sex with 5 prostitutes with an alleged Nazi theme. A privacy battle ensued that saw him significantly involved in the government’s Leveson inquiry that shook the celebrity and media world regarding the level of media snooping.

Most remarkably in his story is how much of his time he’s dedicated to car safety and not just in Formula One. He’s helped turn around a highly dangerous sport into one with incredibly high safety standards by comparison and not just in motorsport but also in car manufacturing as a whole through establishing a properly regulated crash testing system.

It’s a fascinating insight into a sporting legend, who has worked prolifically behind the scenes of one of the most glamorous and richest sports on the planet, dedicating his time to the far less glamorous aspect of its driver safety. He still manages to leave a questionable legacy, in a story that skims through a life full of political and legal intrigue that continues to be of paramount importance today.

Film: Mosley: It’s Complicated

Director:  Michael Shevloff

Stars: Max Mosley, Bernie Ecclestone, Flavio Briatore, Gerhard Berger

Genre: Documentary / Sport

Run time: 1hr 35min

Rated: 15

Rating: 3/5

A Perfect Enemy

Available on digital download from 5th July, A Perfect Enemy is a psychological thriller based on the book by Amélie Nothomb. A Spanish, French and German co-production filmed in English, it’s the story of a successful architect Jeremy Angust (Tomasz Kot) who is on a business trip to Paris but when he helps a young girl on his return trip things take a sinister and criminal turn.

The film begins with Angust concluding a grandiose presentation in front of a packed out auditorium, giving a rapid fire summary of his architectural journey and his search for perfection. Afterwards he is met off stage by some photographers and fans for a book signing before he is duly whisked away to catch a flight, but not before letting us know about the painful loss he experienced in the city of Paris (the venue of his presentation) and how he still misses his wife (Marta Nieto) that had left him 20 years ago. On the way back to the airport, in the pouring rain, a young girl Texel Textor (Athena Strates), approaches his chauffeur driven car parked in traffic to plead for a lift to the airport and despite his own lateness he decides to help her out. As a consequence they both miss their flights and end up in the airport lounge.

The girl won’t leave Angust alone and she is annoyingly difficult to ignore, which soon makes you wonder is there more to their chance meeting and is there something Angust would like to hide? Despite his despair at the situation he gives in under Texel’s persuasion to have a drink at the airport lounge but when they start talking Texel’s stories then take things in a dark direction. As the events unfold, they are being creepily replayed inside the toy model of the airport, which Angust had designed himself, sinisterly re-enacting the crime, like a playhouse theatre.

Directed by Spanish director Kike Maillo, tasked with blending together the reality sequences with the storytelling flashbacks, it doesn’t always fully grip the imagination but still manages to create an unsettling atmosphere with some highly creative abstract scenes as he explores the psyche of his protagonist. The airport provides a simple setting for the stories to be told from and there are other nice locational shots in particular the Parisian graveyard here denoted as Monmartre (but credited as the famous Père Lachaise Cemetery).

Interestingly, it is an international co-production and an international cast performing a script written in English with European accents. This perfectly suits the setting for an international business conference and airport. Tomasz is a middle aged, lean version of an Arnold Schwarzenegger with an Eastern European accent and Athena Strates tries a Dutch accent as the petite blonde Texel (a South African actress by birth) that establishes a sense of these foreign strangers meeting and conversing slightly uncomfortably in English.

As a psychological thriller there are some strange looking mismatches in characters along with some far fetched stories, which makes the film slightly bewildering if not intriguing as it switches between Hitchcock suspense and Wes Anderson fantasy. It isn’t helped by a rather clunky script but it does have some interesting lines and manages to show some imaginative qualities along the way.

Film: A Perfect Enemy

Director:  Kike Maillo

Stars: Tomasz Kot, Marta Nieto and Athena Strates

Genre: Crime / Thriller

Run time: 1hr 30min

Rated: Unrated

Rating: 3/5

June Worksheet

Piccadilly (1929)

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Piccadilly (1929)

Piccadilly (1929) is a silent movie based on the glamorous world of a London revue bar and the entangled relationships behind its inner workings with spurned love, rivalry and jealousy that results in murder. This is a newly restored High Definition deluxe edition complete with an array of video extras now available on Blu Ray from the BFI online store.

The film’s story centres around the Piccadilly Club and its owner Valentine Wilmot (Jameson Thomas). The club’s high society clientele come to drink and dine at this decadent venue whilst being entertained by its top dance act Mabel (Gilda Gray) and Victor (Cyril Ritchard). Its auspicious setting is a perfect platform for the dance couple to show off their star qualities but when the music stops we find an awkward love tryst between Victor, Mabel and Valentine, where each in turn spurns the other’s advances. It is Victor, the lead dancer, who brings the girls to the venue but Mabel rebuffs his advances, seeking instead the attention of the proprietor Valentine, who has his own more pressing concerns of the business.

The pressures of running the club are put to the test when a commotion from a dissatisfied customer in the restaurant interrupts Mabel’s dancing and Valentine has to return a dirty plate to the kitchens. There he finds a kitchen-hand Shosho (Anna May Wong) dancing on the tables for the entertainment of the kitchen staff. She is instantly dismissed and sent home, but when the business’ takings begin to suffer after Victor quits for America, Valentine hits upon the idea of introducing a new exotic dance act, Shosho, to lift the club’s failing fortunes. This of course can only further inflame the increasingly neurotic emotions of Mabel as Valentine goes out of his way to make his new exotic act a success, and becomes increasingly infatuated.

The film’s opening title sequence of the bright lights of London’s West End in black and white set the scene as the credits arrive on the side of London buses. The glitz and glamour of the club is modelled on the famous Cafe de Paris and dazzles with dance hall opulence that includes a twin staircase, balcony view, band stand and ornate flooring. Combined with a classic silent movie big band score, it is very much in keeping with the burgeoning jazz scene of the time. The charmingly dated dance sequences, although pedestrian at best, still manage to hold a sensual allure and Victor does a vintage dance routine for the camera, that is special in its own timeless way.

Written by Arnold Bennett who is known best for his work about class, poverty and race the film contrasts the glamour of the West End scene with the working class diners and homes in the surrounding areas of an already cosmopolitan London. Anna May Wong who plays Shosho brings great style and poise to her role. She is recognised as the first Chinese American actress to become a big Hollywood star and shows why she was internationally renown as a fashion icon, and in one of the last silent movies ever made, where suggestion and intimation are powerful tools, she gives a delightfully skilled performance.

Despite its sexual noirish tone there are some lighter moments of humour too like the amusing scene played by Charles Laughton as the irate diner who complains about the offending dirty dish. He looks so like Mr. Creosote from the famous Monty Python sketch he can only have been its inspiration. There is also Shosho’s chaperone Jim (King Hou Chan) who is asked to model her show costume to get Valentine to buy it, and in doing so provides a very early tribute to the Soho drag artists.

It is a nicely shot film which has easy to follow silent movie captions that for its time must have raised a few eyebrows with its racial and sexual themes, but it manages to poke fun at itself too with an old fashioned British sensibility and humour towards the superficial nonsense that is driving its characters towards murder, all encapsulated by its sympathetic jolly jazz band soundtrack.

Film: Piccadilly

Director:  E A Dupont

Stars: Anna May Wong, Gilda Gray, Jameson Thomas, Charles Laughton

Genre: Crime / Drama

Run time: 1hr 32min

Rated: PG

Rating: 3/5

Piccadilly can be pre-ordered from the BFI Shop directly here.

Interview – Rom Boys: Forty Years of Rad

Rom Boys: 40 Years of Rad will be screened at the opening night of The Romford Film Festival on 24th June and is available on digital download here: https://geni.us/RomBoys 

DIRECTOR Matt Harris & PHOTOGRAPHER ‘Monkeyglove Matt’

Q&A Matt Harris – Director

How did the documentary come about?
Around six years ago I was looking for a place to take my daughter on her scooter one sunny summer afternoon when I remembered Rom from my childhood and wondered if it was still open. On arriving I noticed the place was full of older guys in their forties and fifties and very few kids.  On talking to them I realised they were all great characters and then someone said the park was heritage listed. I did a bit of research, was advised to speak with Professor Iain Borden from UCL (University City of London), who is the world’s leading historian on skateparks and skateboarding, and the rest as they say is history.

What were your biggest challenges?
Finding the story. I was shooting and interviewing people for around three years not really knowing what the narrative was going to be, then the fire happened and everything kind of fell into place in terms of a structure; you know a proper beginning, middle and end.

Why is the story important?
Rom is the only ‘proper’ skatepark in the world that has a heritage listing. Think about that, it’s in the UK, NOT California, widely considered the birthplace of skateboarding. That’s pretty incredible if you think about it. As such English Heritage recognises its importance (it has recently been placed on the “Heritage at Risk” register) and so this story goes some way to telling people that heritage isn’t just about castles and cathedrals, it can also be about community spaces that hold a wide appeal to a certain sub-culture that people may be unfamiliar with.

What did you like most about making the documentary?
Meeting and making friends throughout the whole process. Spencer was the first person who spoke to me at Rom when I first visited with Emma and we’re now both directors of the CIC trying to get Rom back on its feet, also I go for breakfast most Sunday’s now with Dion. Getting to interview Lance Mountain in LA with Adam Wittaker was a real highlight – and of course not forgetting The London Police, where Chaz came to the premiere in Paris on what ended up being a very crazy night!

Q&A ‘Monkeyglove Matt’ – Photographer

When did you start skating and what does skating mean to you?
’86. Had breaks over the years but started back up in 1999 and have not stopped since. No plans to stop. 49 this year. Skating to me is escapism a freedom that you just can’t buy.

When and why was the park built?
Summer of ’78. It was the boom of skateboarding introduced to the UK from the USA.

What is special about its architecture?
The architecture is unique and considering how long ago it was built it still provides a challenge to riders today. Adrian Rolt from G-force (designed the park), a skatepark design company, who were the market leaders in the late seventies. It’s challenging because its rough, steep and deep.

Why is the park important socially & culturally?
It’s important in lots of ways as a cultural home of skateboarding & BMX. So many people have walked through that door over the years. Friendships have been built here that last a lifetime. The way it has taught people to ride and they have taken that onto other terrain. It stays with you and even if you have never been if you watch the movie you will get the feeling that you should go one day. It does draw you in.

Why would people object to the park or why aren’t there more?
People would object if they thought it would be better suited as a supermarket or a large multi-storey car park I guess but that’s missing the point, it’s not about the money. There are lots of parks now and they are free which has impacted the likes of Rom.

Who uses the park and what is its legacy?
There are some regulars and you get new people finding the place all the time. For skateboarding it’s never been as popular as it is right now a lot of that is down to the Olympics and it’s also seen as a bit cooler these days. Let’s hope it’s here for at least another 40 years for people to come and ride.

Sunflowers

In cinemas across the UK from 8th June, Sunflowers is the latest showpiece from Exhibition on the Screen, the experts on bringing the best of the art galleries from around the world, this time in a feature length documentary about Van Gogh’s unmistakable Sunflowers.

Directed by David Bickerstaff the story begins with the installation of the Sunflowers exhibition at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam where extensive research has been done on the paintings. With expert talking heads from all the exhibiting galleries, including Munich, London, Tokyo and Philadelphia, all blended together with a subtle unobtrusive re-enactment of Van Gogh by Jamie De Courcey that combines to make this a thorough and entertaining exploration of this most famous art work.

The documentary goes through a brief account of the artist’s life-story and establishes some of the well known facts before embarking on an in-depth exploration of the Sunflowers still life motif. Most significantly pondered here is, not the frequently misconstrued idea that the famous Sunflowers are a single still life study, but the fact that they are a series of 11 paintings – a collection of colourful reproductions.

Coming from an academic standpoint the 1 hour 25 minutes isn’t unnecessarily turgid and its mix of re-enactments and voiceovers break-up the art class lecture feel. Included are lots of interesting insights into both the artist and the paintings including a history of sunflowers and their introduction into what was known as European competitive gardening during the 19th century. From his early meeting of the impressionists and his juxtaposition with realism, to his use of monochrome colours and the technical skill he developed to give a three dimensional quality, these meanderings added to the letters he wrote to his sister and brother, all give an incredible insight into his thoughts and steps during this period making this a touching biographical account of an iconic artist and his iconic work.

It’s a neat and tidy documentary executed with meticulous precision and detail allowing us to follow this incredible artistic journey. Once you’ve adjusted to the Van Gogh impersonator in the documentary and got accustomed to the strange Dutch pronunciation of Van Gogh, it is hard not to be somewhat captivated by this story which is fraught with both genius and despair including his close friendship with another famous artist of the time, Gaugin, and his mental deterioration and subsequent suicide. What makes an iconic painting and an iconic artist? Look no further than Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. A series of stunningly vibrant and colourful paintings and a fascinating life story. You’ll never look at a vase of flowers the same again.

Find your nearest cinema at exhibitiononscreen.com including Curzon, Everyman, Odeon, Picturehouse, Showcase, Vue and independent cinemas.

Film: Sunflowers

Director: David Bickerstaff

Stars: Jamie De Courcey, Jochum Ten Haaf, MArtin Bailey

Genre: Documentary / Arts

Run time: 1hr 25min

Rated: U

Rating: 3/5

May Worksheet

Maya the Bee: The Golden Orb

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Maya The Bee: The Golden Orb

In cinemas this week, Studio 100 brings the third in a series of children’s favourite and German classic, Maya The Bee, amazingly over one hundred years old and returning to the big screen once again to lift the young kids’ spirits as the enthusiastic bee looking for adventure.

The film starts off with Maya (Coco Jack Gillies) full of the joys of spring as she tries to wake the hive to let them know that spring has finally sprung, but in her over excitement she ends up wrecking the hive and the precious sun stone, much to the displeasure of the Queen bee. Maya overhears that she and her best friend Willi (Benson Jack Anthony) are to be separated because of their calamitous partnership and she needs no further invitation to get away from the hive ‘to do something special’ in order to prove her and Willi’s worth to stay together. This opportunity comes in the unexpected guise of a passing ant who is on the run from the muscle bound beetle boom-bugs, who are after the golden orb he’s carrying. It turns out this golden orb is the egg of the ant princess Smoosh (Evie Gillies), the heir to the ant kingdom, now in the hands of Maya and Willi who have to return her home safely to Bonsai Peak.

It’s a simple rescue plot suited to a young audience with Maya the effervescent bee dragging her reluctant best friend Willi along for the ride and find themselves challenged with the new found responsibilities of looking after a young hatchling ant. The villains are the boom-bugs led by the power crazed Bombulus (Christian Charisiou), who demands the capture of the princess whilst having a tendency to break-out into a School of Rock style song. Then there are the giant birds who strike fear into even the beefed-up boom-bugs with their scary wide-eyed threat to eat them all.

This is a feel good animation for the kids that is understated, in keeping with its long running cartoon tradition. It goes less for the all action comedy, although is not without its silly gags, instead relying on a more species compassionate storyline. Suitable for the youngest of audiences with its big graphics, transporting you deep into the vegetation underworld in this epic battle between the ants and the beetles, and not forgetting the serendipitous intervention of Maya and Willi.

Film: Maya The Bee: The Golden Orb

Director: Noel Cleary

Stars: Coco Jack Gillies, Benson Jack Anthony, Frances Berry

Genre: Animation / Kids

Run time: 1hr 20min

Rated: U

Rating: 3/5