d. Grant McPhee; w. Ben Soper; p. Grant McPhee, Olivia Gifford, Steven Moore; cast: Sorcha Groundsell, Victoria Liddelle, Lynsey-Anne Moffat, Adrienne-Marie Zitt, Margaret Fraser
McPhee’s third trippy feature confirms him as one of the most interesting film-makers in Britain today. It feels more accessible than Sarah’s Room or Night Kaleidoscope, which may be the director maturing and/or new scripter Soper. When art student Judith is taken on as protégé/archivist by successful artist Roberta, she finds images of Roberta’s daughter Maddie among the photos, videos and film. Roberta seems to be moulding Judith into her daughter’s image; as her resistance breaks down so does her identity. A film about art, artifice and artificiality, Far from the Apple Tree has a briefly overt but deliberately unexplored subtext of witchcraft and occult conspiracy. McPhee and DP Simon Vickery crafted the film from a wide range of film and video formats which reinforce the disoriented viewer’s empathy with Judith/Maddie while constantly reminding us (not least through constantly shifting aspect ratios!) that what we are watching is also both artificial and art. Shot in March 2017, it premiered in Manchester two years later. Score by Rose McDowall from Strawberry Switchblade!