Gecko’s debut feature film ‘Institute’ comes to screens

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Critically acclaimed physical theatre company Gecko’s debut feature film Institute, is an intimate, funny and moving exploration of what it means to care.

With a reputation for generating intoxicating worlds, uniquely beautiful scenes and breath-taking choreography, this new film – based on Gecko’s internationally acclaimed theatre production – is a visually captivating and poetic dissection of the way we nurture and care for ourselves and each other.

Set in a shadowy institution where residents attempt to create order from internal emotional chaos, carers become patients, memories fracture and relationships collide.

In a time when we have become more isolated and disconnected than ever before, Institute asks how do we care more for each other in the target-driven machinery of modern life? Who will be there to catch us if we fall?

A close up of a man's face. He is smartly dressed. He looks distressed. Gecko Theatre's Institute credit John Ferguson
Gecko Theatre’s Institute credit John Ferguson

Institute is Director Amit Lahav’s second work for screen after Gecko’s live TV performance of Time of Your Life (part of Live from Television Centre, 2015).  Since this screen debut, Amit continued to explore work in film through collaborations with directors Teresa Griffiths on Egon Schiele: Dangerous Desires (BBC2, 2018) and Adam Smith/Marcus Lyall on visuals for the Chemical Brothers’ live shows. This strengthened his understanding of the genre and the process of creating a Gecko feature film soon followed.

Director and performer Amit Lahav said:

“This was an exhilarating experience from start to finish. There were many elements of the process relating to visual and aural storytelling which felt natural and instinctive to me, like the blocking and choreography of scenes for the camera and the screen play narrative, which required a different approach and different storytelling techniques to the stage production. Some theatrical sequences, which felt essential for the stage required an altogether different visual language; the scale and necessity of explosive physicality on stage could be found through a more internal, emotional expressiveness using close-up shots, reimagined choreography specific for screen and some clever editing. The camera movement and direction required a period of learning which I’ve been enveloped in over the last 5 years through various film projects and mentors. Understanding the emotionality of camera angles and movement and the camera’s expressive power has taken time to begin to understand. That said it has provided me with some thrilling added storytelling dynamism.

“This is my first feature film and it was an invaluable experience to work with such a gifted team. I have learnt so much from Emma Dalesman who was the director of photography and Todd MacDonald who was the editor – both of whom were sensitive, intelligent and extremely generous and respectful of my need to grow throughout the process.

Film opens up new avenues in my life and in my heart that I don’t think can ever be closed again.”

Institute was shown on BBC4 on 19th July at 11:10pm and was available on BBC iPlayer for 30 days following its initial broadcast.

About this artist

Gecko is an award-winning and internationally acclaimed physical theatre company, led by Artistic Director Amit Lahav. Founded in 2001 the company has created seven critically acclaimed theatre shows, 2 associate shows and 2 films. The company has toured to 24 countries around the world and is a featured practitioner on GSCE and A-level curriculums.

The Gecko identity is based on a deep interest in human beings and their extraordinary and challenging journeys to express feelings and emotions in society. The Company uses multiple spoken languages in their work to tell universal stories through movement and emotion, sound, lighting and design, allowing people from all backgrounds and nationalities to access their work, which explores and reflects issues relevant to a modern diverse society.

Gecko is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation, based in Ipswich. Following a capital award by Arts Council England of £499,999 and through the support of Ipswich Borough Council, during 2020-2021 the company will redevelop a derelict warehouse on Ipswich’s waterfront into the Gecko Creation Space, an industry significant devising and rehearsal studio, and Gecko’s new HQ.