Title: Olivia Twist
Director: Arno Hazebroek
Starring: Ellie Mahyoub, Martin Alcock, Hannah Belfield, Laura Bodell, Kyle Bond, Lisa Cooke.
The adaptation of literary milestones can turn out to be a success when pushed to the boundaries, or a terrible flop. Arno Hazebroek has managed to breathe into Oliver Twist timeliness, endorsed by gender equality and multiculturalism, since The Parish Boy’s Progress becomes the coming-of-age of an Afghan orphan girl.
‘Olivia Twist’ is set in contemporary times in Stoke-on-Trent, a city once renowned for industrial splendor. Several Dickensian expressions are phrased by the contemporary alter-egos of the original novel, as Olivia is on the run and finds shelter with Bob Fagin and his gang of mercenary metal thieves. Just like in the classic, the young protagonist is put to the test and challenged to fight for her freedom and protect her innocence. The gritty tone that accompanies her quest is enhanced by the enchanting music score by Viktor Dorozsmai.
This movie marks the feature debut for Arno Hazebroek, who has previously made several short films, such as ‘Intervention,’ ‘KRYM’ and ‘Lost Bullets,’ that was shot in Colombia and qualified for pre-selection to the Oscars of 2012. In ‘Olivia Twist,’ he has brilliantly directed his cast, thanks to the collaboration with The Co-operative British Youth Film Academy and Lucinda Hawksley, the descendant of Dickens, who joined students during filming to deliver workshops, talks, insight and, made a cameo appearance in the film.
So far the adaptation of the Victorian novel has screened at the Portobello Film Festival (nominated for Best Film), the Mexico International Film Festival (Bronze Palm Award), the Stoke Your Fires Film Festival and the Great Lakes International Film Festival in Pennsylvania. It has recently been offered VOD distribution and will soon be released on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon Instant Video.
Charles Dickens’ social commentary is still current nowadays, and ‘Olivia Twist’ attests it in the way universal themes are modernized, through the backdrop of the 2011 UK riots, cross-cultural tension and the pottery tradition.
Written by: Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi