Short film explores landscape after foot and mouth

Nilesh Patel's short film on landscape after foot and mouth
Still photography is by Rebecca Sanders, an urban designer who has worked with Nilesh Patel

Nilesh Patel, an architect who has spent much of his career working in landscape architecture practices, has just had his second short film premiered at the London Short Film Festival.

Called ‘Great and Small’, Patel’s film looks at the life of an old, retired farmer. Told without dialogue, it recounts his life through the year, including walking through fields, sitting on a rusted tractor, reflecting in a church and carrying home a game bird that he has shot. It intersperses this melancholy but idyllic setting with still photography of the brutal slaughter of cows that followed the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in 2001 which caused many farmers to lose their livelihoods.

Patel’s nine-minute film, which has an original soundtrack, portrays in beautiful detail the sights and sounds of the country with an almost microscopic vision as it looks at individual flowers and the insects on them.

His first film was shortlisted for the Short Documentary Oscar, and Patel hopes that this film will be shown in more festivals. It appeared in a selection of films entitled ‘Landscape as Character’ which ranged from a personal view of feelings of threat on the streets of Bristol to an animation on counting sheep. There was some beautiful filming but a preponderance of slightly storyless filming of dishevelled young women in flimsy dresses and bare feet. This might seem an odd commentary on landscape, if one did not remember that the films were not conceived as ‘landscape’ but were put into that category by the organisers of the festival.

Patel has worked as an associate for Gustafson Porter, and is currently freelancing for landscape architects.

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