Gecko, BBC Arts, The Space and Illuminations collaborate to bring an adaptation the hit theatre show Institute to BBC Four

In collaboration with Illuminations, The Space and BBC Arts, critically acclaimed physical theatre company Gecko presents its debut feature film Institute: 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.

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?

Institute will be broadcast as part of BBC Arts Culture In Quarantine, bringing arts and culture into the homes of the nation under lockdown, and it’s adaptation for the screen comes during a time when we all need to feel more connected than ever before.

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.”

Choreographer and Gecko Patron Arlene Phillips CBE commented: “I first saw Gecko’s theatre production of Institute a number of years ago and yet you would think this film was specifically made as a comment on the disturbing times we have all been living through recently. Who is telling the truth and what is the truth?  In this extraordinary film, a cross between a dream and a nightmare, movement has a liquid beauty even when sharp and aggressive, and I found myself crying at the simple moments of hope we observe through the characters, wishing their troubles would all go away and that their lives would return to normality. It is a must-see film created by Amit’s strange but telling vision of the world around us.

Jonty Claypole, Director of BBC Arts said: “Institute, from the brilliant team at Gecko, has been adapted for the screen while maintaining the theatrical nature of the piece. This unique film shows the creative vision of our theatre community to tell their stories in a captivating new way.”

Institute will be broadcast on BBC Four on Sunday, 19 July at 11.10pm and will be available on BBC iPlayer for 30 days following its initial broadcast.