Aliens touch down in Preston for new film Piercing Brightness by Shewad Dawood

By Mark Sheerin | 28 May 2013

Film preview: Piercing Brightness by Shezad Dawood, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, June 7-9 2013

Colour crop of a film poster which features a UFO
© By Permission Shezad Dawood
Just as the cold war coincided with the arrival of little green men in the public consciousness, so artist/director Dawood gives us an interstellar invasion for our own troubled times. The aliens are no longer green, but they are not caucasian either.

Dawood has set his film in Preston, Lancashire - a county with both the highest rate of UFO spottings and the fastest growing mainlanhinese population.

And so two of the aliens, Jiang and Shin, assume Chinese form. But we soon find out that many E.T.s already walk among us. These are the so-called Glorious 100, an advance party sent to learn our ways.

Minimal spolier alert: a key scene takes place at Preston’s best known landmark, on the roof of its Brutalist 1969 bus station. So London-based Dawood has put the northern city on the cinematic map, if not the odd galactic chart or two.

The rest of the film is filmed in a stylised, epidosic way with cutaways to a number of characterful captive birds. For me, these were the stars of the show, run a close second by the incidental music. This was scored by Makoto Kawabata of Acid Mothers Temple, with additional music by Alexander Tucker.

Both direction and soundtrack make for an intriguing take on a classic sci-fi premise. Does cult status await Piercing Brightness? We will have to wait and see.
  • Runs 7pm Friday (with director Q&A), 1pm Saturday and Sunday. Tickets £10/£8. Book online. Follow the ICA on Twitter @ICALondon.
  • For further venues and dates see the Piercing Brightness Facebook page.
Visit Mark Sheerin's contemporary art blog and follow him on Twitter.
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