The retired teacher “Rook” lives alone in an old house and enjoys frequent visits from the young student “Pawn”. As they settle into a game of chess the cocky “Pawn” expects another victory. But he quickly learns that age should be respected. Shot on 16mm film with a dialog-free script, “Pawn & Rook” is a tender story that focuses on human relationship and a detachment between the old and new generations.

This film was a very personal project to me as it gave me a chance to express many aspects of my own childhood.

Not only did I choose to shoot on location at my old friend’s house, but I also got a chance to explore a relationship set over a game very familiar to my own childhood. My father was a young chess champion and ever since I was a child he would force me to play against him. I only recently realised just how much I loved spending that time with him, but more importantly- what it meant to him. I still remember the day when I finally, after 10 years of Sunday afternoon games, beat him. The feeling took me by surprise and my dad showed me nothing but admiration. It was a strange achievement, but none the less a very poignant one in our relationship.

This film focuses on “Rook”, an elderly man who lives alone. I wanted the audience to feel his loneliness in order to understand why company means so much to him. He is living alone in a big house; he sleeps alone and eats alone. When “Pawn” arrives, we see how he immediately takes for granted the frailty of a man who truly needs his time. Pawn is cocky, rude and impatient, he parks his bike on the lawn before he proceeds into the house only to mock the old man. Pawn is also so distracted by his phone that he pays no attention to either the game or Rook. This is a theme I felt relevant to our society, where parents are loosing a connection and response from their kids because they are glued to their gadgets. It is only when Rook begins to win, that Pawn begins to pay attention. That moment of eye contact escalates to the end of the film where we see both our characters facing each other and fully engaging. The film is not about the game, it is about the human relationship between those playing it and how they respond to each other over the game. I am aware that this is not to everyone’s taste, as the film requires a patient audience who understand it is purposely subtle. I hope you enjoy my film.

  • 16mm (Fuji tungsten) 
  • Running time: 5 Minutes
  • Producer & Director: Alexander Nally
  • Lead Actors: Thomas Bewley, Edward Hornsby
  • Music: Joshua Field

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