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In a year which has so far been completely devoid of live theatre, The Living Record Festival brings together over forty pieces of original content from creative minds across the world. This digital festival even boasts a foyer and bar, the former being a place to explore what is on offer at the festival, whilst the latter is a space where audience members can listen to the festival artists chat or get involved in live meetups about the arts industry.
Finney’s Ghost is a slow burning short film, shrouded in mystery. We are lead through the story by Pearl (Eleanor Barr), who narrates how she came to be in the possession of a case belonging to a deceased, homeless man named Finney. Through trinkets, scraps and a plethora of photographs, this case seemingly holds Finney’s entire world, and Pearl is at the centre of it all. As she uncovers his photos – snapshots of her life she didn’t realise were being immortalised – she retraces their interactions and his impact on her life.
Originally filmed in 2015, Finney’s Ghost enters the festival with the potential for new perceptions, following the conditions brought about by the pandemic. Although it was shot pre-COVID, the story by David Fox fits perfectly in current London, addressing how we view the people around us and the importance of small human connections to those with limited interaction. The film even seems to reflect the necessity of our time for social distancing in film making, with minimal cast on screen and a lean toward narration, still imagery and landscape shots of empty streets and parks.
Pearl’s exploration of the case, through a brilliantly fashioned performance by Barr, has a constant charge of questioning, shifting, and swaying as the film winds its way through the City of London. I would have expected that to have your life surveilled from the photos of a dead man would fill you with a sickening dread of violation, but Fox’s text challenges us to delve deeper; to understand the person behind the camera. Although James Davis’s performance of the titular character is minimal in screen time, Finney seems ever-present throughout the film – perhaps because we feel his eyes watching through each photo.
The atmosphere is further intensified with music by Ian Hill and Francis Knight, pulling the intrigue of the tale to the surface and building suspense, whilst avoiding the drift towards thriller or malice. The music seems to match the uncertainty of direction that we feel as an audience as we watch Pearl navigate this man’s life.
Regardless of the simplicity of its premise, Finney’s Ghost has me thoroughly engaged for its 40 minutes runtime. Through pointed questioning and the energetic momentum of the narrative, it drives me to continue the train of thought with my own internal monologue. I wonder how much of the world around us we miss when we are too caught up with the woes or banalities of daily life?
Finney’s Ghost is streaming online until 19th February 2021. For more information and to book tickets, visit Living Record’s Page on Zarucchi.