Cold – London International Mime Festival

The digital world premiere of Cold is free to view for the duration of the London International Mime Festival (12 January-6 February 2022).

Turtle Key Arts present a piece based on true stories, and Cold is often a harsh, unsettling, and disturbing watch. The topic here is miscarriage – lost babies, grief, detachment, the ache of being a father or a mother but having no child.

Cold may feel as if it filmed on location, but the stark and snowy landscape is staged at Hereford’s Courtyard Theatre and captured using just one camera. Janet Etuk and Jacob Meadows, as Falda and Ulf, rip the heart out of their pain, their bodies tightly wound, only blood coming from their mouths if they try to speak.

Production image from Cold

A very personal piece from filmmakers Claire CoachĂ© and Lisle Turner, Cold brings their life experience into the dramatic sphere, their two lost children commemorated  in this strange and disturbing fairytale. Title cards separate each ‘chapter’ in this ninety-minute fable, each highlighting a word (beast, fate) which digs deep into a tale of unimaginable loss and emptiness.

In the performances of Etuk and Meadows, there is little opportunity to hide. This is a story in which emotions run raw, where the sense of sadness between the pair comes through strongly as she curls in silence, and he strides out into the wilds to physically howl his loss.

Although Cold does offer some hope as spring cracks through the snow towards the end, it remains a bleakly honest exploration of pregnancies that end in tragedy, as many as a quarter, even now.

This is an important film which may offer little cheer but which has a full heart – whether you have direct experience of losing a baby or not, this has a beauty and force which retains great power.

You can view Cold as part of the London International Mime Festival until 6 February.

Image credit: Kie Cummings