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Looters (2002)

Courtesy of Somafilms ltd

Main image of Looters (2002)
DV, 10 min, colour
DirectorArun Kumar
Production CompanySomafilms
ProducerMatt Conway
 Arun Kumar
Written byMatt Conway

Cast: Alex Harvey (Gibbo); Miranda Pleasence (Anna); Narada (Mr Sifter)

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Anna and Gibbo follow the trail of a small ad to the residence of Mr Sifter, an unassuming elderly gentleman who opens his door and his heart to the mischievous couple. But will the pair take more than they should?.

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Following the success of his first documentary, The Bielski Brothers (1993), notorious film Executions (Europe's biggest selling video in 1995), and the documentary Bengali Backlash (Channel 4, tx. 8/9/1997), Arun Kumar's fiction short, Looters, won the Special Jury Award at the Terme Film Festival, and was shortlisted for a BBC Talent Award.

The opening scene sets a tone of deceit that is light-hearted at first (Anna and Gibbo's plans to steal from Mr Sifter) but grows darker as the film progresses (Mr Sifter's surprise reversal).

Looters greatly benefits from a film noir feel. Cross-cutting between Anna and Gibbo's cluttered, colourful and vibrant flat and the sparseness and darkness of Mr Sifter's, Kumar uses high contrast lighting to underline the ostensible disparity between their lives (opposing youth and age, friendship and loneliness, peace and war, deviousness and innocence).

It is not until the twist ending and the film's biggest strength - when the 'victim' turns the tables on his 'aggressors' - that the viewer is invited to rethink the story thus far. Does Mr Sifter callously rob young people for a living? Or is this a one-off incident? How much of what he tells the youngsters is true? By painting Mr Sifter as an affable man, with his wartime anecdotes, gentle manner and unyielding love for his late wife ("the love we had would never leave our hearts"), the film lulls Anna, Gibbo and the audience into a false sense of security. If there is an overall message in this enjoyable film, it is the shattering of first impressions and stereotypes, entwined with the popular adage, 'two can play at that game'.

Shalini Chanda

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Video Clips
Complete film (10:07)
Extract (0:56)