XpoNorth Festival Screening Reviews 2015
Our man on the ground, Adam Cook, has reviewed the short films that made the final screening programme from this year's call for submissions. They are a wide and varied bunch, which we think you will enjoy. We hope this helps you plan your visit to XpoNorth...
Director: Saman Hosseinuor
Beware a trip to the barber when the football is on.
Directors: Benoit Berthe, Armelle Renac, Gabrielle Locre, Vivien Risser, Caroline Le Duff, Agathe Pillot
In this professionally produced and charming comedy, a married couple try and impress a director of a cabaret by presenting him with a series of inventions from the future. Featuring impressive and expressive computer generated animation, “1900-2000” is bristling with Gallic wit and perfectly timed slapstick routines. France is well known for its animation and Benoit Berthe’s short film continues this tradition with this delightful entry.
Director: Vivek Joshi
As XpoNorth continues to grow as a festival it also continues to widens its reach, giving a platform to filmmakers all over the globe and allowing the audience into worlds they would seldom see. Nilesh Mange’s short film is a fitting example of this - the story of a poor innocent boy on the streets of Mumbai trying to earn money for himself and his family. The short evocatively captures the noise and colour of the city as well as the heartbreaking plight of the boy who receives little help from a society that is quick to turn a blind eye to his suffering.
A Friend Of Ours
Director: Joey Jameson
Joey Jameson’s “A Friend of Ours” is a deceptive little short film. In the middle of the night, whilst the rest of the city sleeps, two men awake to carry out orders from their boss. This modest short film smartly subverts expectations as the audience predict a typical crime story but get something quite different. Backed by solid performances and strong cinematography, “A Friend of Ours” delivers a surprising tale in six short minutes.
A Lost Youth
Director: Andy Salamonczyk
During World War II thousands of Poles were to sent to Africa after being forced from their homes by the Soviet army. Wanda Lapham tells the story of her journey as an orphan and the hardship she faced on an unfamiliar continent. Andy Salamonczyk’s short documentary reveals a little known story from the war and the impact it had on the people who had to leave their homes. Wanda talks openly about her childhood experience in this moving true life tragedy.
A Time Of Freedom
Director: Douglas McDowall
Douglas McDowall’s documentary follows two young people from Southern Morocco as they prepare for the Boujloud; an ancient pagan masquerade. The documentary is a fascinating insight into a custom that has been embraced by an Islamic community as they merge religious and pagan beliefs. Capturing the colour and history of the festival, “A Time of Freedom” is an illuminating film that reveals a little seen tradition.
A Wee Night In
Director: Stuart Edwards
“ A Wee Night In” is an intimate portrait focused on the director’s 94 year-old grandmother and her relationship with her nonagenarian boyfriend. Stuart Edwards’ short documentary follows the everyday moments and daily rituals of the couple who continue to live life to the full. It’s a tender and affectionate study and all the more effective because of its simplicity. You will be glad to spend a wee night in with this inspiring couple.
Director: Adam Galloway
Three very different couples discuss their views and experiences of online dating. “About Me” was a two-year passion project for its director as he attempted to dispel the stigma attached to online dating and reveal how it can help bring people together. Whilst online dating is certainly becoming a popular way to meet people it is interesting to listen to their personal stories, particularly the couple that were separated by an ocean and three thousand miles but still managed to find each other.
Director: Özgür Barut
“Adana Kebap” is a documentary that is sure to get stomachs rumbling and mouths watering as we explore the world of the humble kebab and its importance to the city of Adana in southern Turkey. This debut film from Özgür Barut, a student at Istanbul University, explores the process and culture of the Adana kebab. Interviewing third generation chefs from the region, the film reveals the importance of the kebab and how it differs from those found elsewhere in Turkey. It’s only a shame that the documentary isn’t available in taste-o-vision.
Director: Diego Akel
In this whimsical music video, Brazilian filmmaker Diego Akel, magically transforms singer, Barbara Eugenia, into a paper cutout doll. There is a charming simplicity to the stop-frame animation that perfectly complements the music of Miss Eugenia as her cutout figure interacts with an ever-changing array of objects. In a festival dominated by narrative-led dramas and documentaries, “Agradecimento” is a refreshing and welcome change of pace.
All You Do Is Shag (Film Contains Swearing)
Director: Manu Bueno
Manu Bueno’s comedic short film thankfully offers much more than just a provocative title. Set in a busy Spanish restaurant, a romantic dinner descends into a very public argument as a couple can no longer stand how perfect their partners are. Bueno playfully subverts the familiar with the partners becoming tired of their other half for always wanting sex, being punctual and never being unfaithful. It’s an absurd and tightly paced comedy delivered with great energy and game performances.
Anatomy Of A Sunbeam
Director: Larica Perera
When Liev Marshall learns that he may be going blind he feels compelled to reveal the truth about the death of his abusive father; a secret he has kept since childhood. Larica Perera’s “Anatomy of a Sunbeam” is a heartfelt story about the burden of truth as Liev is haunted by events in his past. The film sensitively handles the close relationship between childhood friends whilst the golden autumnal colours of the Canadian countryside complement the story’s contemplative mood.
Director: Marcin Walczak
“Arty Anne” is a revealing documentary portrait of visually-impaired photographer, Anne Dignan. The film follows her quest to set up a photographic exhibition that aims to create a multi-sensory experience for its audience. Marcin Walczak’s short makes for inspiring viewing as we witness Anne dealing with the complications of everyday life whilst using her art to express herself. Anne proves to be a warm and inviting subject and it is fascinating to see her create her unique works of art.
As He Lay Falling
Director: Ian Waugh
Ian Waugh’s accomplished and atmospheric rural drama follows a desperate man far from home. Georgios, forced to migrate for work, moves from Greece to the unforgiving Scottish Highlands. Adrift from his home, family and culture, he ekes out a meaningless existence at an isolated croft. Stunningly shot with handheld camerawork that provides the film with an intense intimacy, “As He Lay Falling” is an assured work backed by pitch perfect performances and excellent direction.
Director: John Edwards
“Available Light” is an illuminating documentary portrait of Peter Anderson, the acclaimed rock and street photographer. Anderson worked for the New Musical Express during the 1980s and the film documents his work in the studio as he prepares for a new exhibition. Whilst Anderson might not be a household name you will recognise many of the iconic images he produced with musicians such as Madonna and Mark E. Smith. Affable and open about his work, Anderson discusses his photographs and the artists that helped influence his style.
Baby At Any Price
Director: Clicquot Guillaume
“Baby at any Price” is yet another French comedy gem at this year’s festival. Clicquot Guillaume’s debut short film follows one restless night for new father, Julien. Promising to take care of the baby single-handedly he discovers the numerous perils of parenthood from incessant crying to sleep deprivation. This amusing and well paced short is elevated by a particularly wonderful and unexpected payoff.
Director: Ayce Kartal
A passionate and boldly animated short film criticising Turkey’s press censorship.
Better Than Tomorrow
Director: EuiJeong Hong
EuiJeong Hong’s dry and satirical short film follows a man’s attempts to be reunited with his wife after being awoken from cryogenic freezing. Left in a rundown rehabilitation centre he discovers a drab future at odds with the world he had hoped to return to. “Better than Tomorrow” is a deliberately paced absurdist comedy as the protagonist has to deal with bureaucracy and an uncertain future. This is an original and distinctive short with a bittersweet kick.
Botev Is An Idiot
Director: Deyan Bararev
Deyan Bararev’s award-winning short tackles the important issue of freedom of speech. Vasko has written an essay that questions Hristo Botev, a Bulgarian national hero and poet. When the headmistress interrogates Vasko about his offensive essay he explains his reasoning behind his provocative words. The significance of Botev may be lost on most audience members but the film’s themes remain universal. With excellent performances and expressive camerawork it is easy to see why “Botev is an Idiot” has received positive attention on the festival circuit.
Director: Jean Counet
The conflict in Ukraine may have become a regular feature in the news but we rarely see the human cost of the situation. “Calling Ukraine,” Jean Counet’s heart-wrenching documentary, attempts to rectify this as he records a series of Skype conversations between a grandmother in Latvia and her daughter trapped in war-torn eastern Ukraine. This intimately focused documentary provides a personal perspective on the conflict showing the real human drama on the grandmother’s worried face. It is an incredibly moving experience that is reinforced by the family photographs of happier times that intercut the emotionally-charged conversations.
Director: Lucinda Verweij
Coming-of-age dramas are well represented at this year’s festival with several originating from the Netherlands. Lucinda Verweij’s film tells the story of Stijn, a young boy mistreated by his abusive mother. Escaping to the woodland near his home he meets a woman who helps change his life. This socially-motivated short neatly contrasts Stijn’s home life with the peace of the woodlands whilst delivering a touching and understated climax.
Chatroulette (Film Contains Swearing)
Director: Alexander Thomas
Alexander Thomas’ “ChatRoulette” is one of the most provocative films at this year’s festival. A naked woman, wearing only a mask, offers a series of men an unusual choice during a webcam conversation - she will reveal her face but not show them her naked body or they can see her body but she will keep the mask on. Written and performed by Chloe Massey this is a frank and occasionally funny monologue exploring both gender objectification and the distancing effect of modern communication. It’s a short that is destined to spark a debate.
Director: Brian Stynes
Set entirely within the confines of an Irish courtroom, “Children’s Allowance” tells the story of a mother who sacrifices her children’s allowance book as a guarantee to the court that her wayward son will appear for his court date for stealing a car. Employing handheld cameras and dominated by close-ups, the film possesses a raw immediacy and intimacy as a mother attempts to protect her son, no matter the sacrifice to herself or the rest of the family.
Director: Mehmet Gözetlik
This smartly edited and visually intriguing short film from Turkey shows the way recognisable brands are reflected in Chinese writing. Documenting the construction of a neon sign, Mehmet Gözetlik’s “Chinatown” shows the audience a glimpse of a branded world in the not too distant future. It is a film that asks question of the audience whilst also working as a simple document of the manufacturing processes involved in producing these familiar advertising signs.
Director: Julija Proskurina
A striking Ukrainian short painstakingly animated with paint on glass.
Director: Sean O'Neill
Animator Sean O’Neill’s endearing yet bittersweet tale of man’s relationship with a four-legged friend.
Curse of the Society
Director: Naimur Rahman Jeem
An animated cautionary tale about the impact of child marriages in Bangladesh.
Director: Betsy Tsai
Near the conflict-ridden Palestinian border, two Israeli boys find themselves face-to-face with their supposed enemy. Blending multiple flashbacks with their current predicament, the three boys’ histories, differences and prejudices come to ahead in this volatile coming-of-age moment. “Daily Bread” is an assured film from American director, Betsy Tsai; an impressive achievement considering it is her thesis film from UCLA. Exploring themes of tolerance and the influence of parental prejudice this is a timely and engaging work.
Dark Side Of The Earth
Director: Aćim Vasić
“Dark Side of the Earth” is an effective thriller as a runaway scientist attempts to leak a shocking discovery regarding changes to our solar system that will have catastrophic implications for Earth. Shot with a single handheld camera, Aćim Vasić’s short film possesses a palpable urgency as the desperate scientist tries to record a confessional video. This is a gripping conspiracy thriller with an intriguing hook.
Deer And Firework
Director: Cheng Yixuan
Directed by recent animation graduate, Cheng Yixuan, “Deer and Firework” is a touching story about sacrifice as a deer and hunter meet during the night of a firework festival. Like the humans that watch from their apartments, the deer are transfixed by the beauty of the fireworks that light up the evening sky. Animated in black and white, Yixuan employs a brief splash of colour to great emotional effect during the film’s tragic climax.
Director: Kirill Kosolapov
An old man has been reading the same book in a bookstore for several days. Unable to afford the expensive publication the shop staff react differently to his predicament. Writer-director, Kirill Kosolapov has crafted a simple yet touching drama that explores human kindness. Attractively shot and well acted, “Different People” is an endearing short film.
Directed By Tweedie
Director: Duncan Cowles
Commissioned by Creative Scotland, “Directed by Tweedie” is an affectionate documentary by filmmaker, Duncan Cowles, and his 87 year-old grandfather; Tweedie. With the help of his grandson, Tweedie reluctantly becomes the director of his own film as the audience learns about his life and relationship with his wife. It is a warm-hearted film as Tweedie struggles both with the unfamiliar technology and his attempts to understand why his grandson would want to document their lives in the first place.
Dropping Off Michael (Film Contains Swearing)
Director: Zam Salim
Zam Salim’s family drama is one of the strongest films at this year’s festival. Facing an uncertain future, Michael is taken out for one last day of freedom by his uncle Duncan. Yet no matter what plans his uncle has, Michael cannot forget what awaits him. “Dropping Off Michael” is a rich and nuanced character drama that is driven by two strong central performances and directed with great confidence. It is wonderful to see such an accomplished short being produced here in Scotland.
Director: Natalia Lampropoulou
In the year 2035 the e-A&Ω Corporation have perfected the technology to create holograms of deceased loved ones based on the information left behind from their social networks. Having recently lost her husband, Anna decides to create her own hologram surrogate. “E-Social” is an impressive sci-fi short from Greece that explores the blurred line between the real and digital worlds. Featuring stunning production design, Natalia Lampropoulou’s film creates a wholly believable future environment where digital ghosts can interact with the living. A haunting yet compelling glimpse into a possible future.
Director: Greg McCarron
“Elysia” mixes animation and dramatic reconstruction to tell an incredible true life story. In 1942 Cecil Smith was thought lost at sea after the sinking of the SS Elysia. Picked up by a passing ship, Cecil makes the long journey back to his Shetland home to be reunited with a wife who believed he was dead. Produced in collaboration with Shetland Moving Image Archive, Shetland Arts and Shetland Heritage Association, this personal true story even features Cecil’s granddaughter in the reconstructions as his bereaved wife, Grace.
Everything For The Movies (Film Contains Swearing)
Director: Lukas Buys
This tense and suspenseful Belgian thriller is sure to become a talking point at this year’s festival. Lize is a young and ambitious actress who discovers that the price of fame may cost her her life. Lukas Buys’ short film is a taut and twisted two-hander as Lize is subjected to the whims of a psychopath. It is a film that ingeniously plays with the audience and protagonist whilst reveling in the uncomfortable situations onscreen.
Director: Greg Doble
An experimental animated short blending shifting abstract images and glitch-infused music.
Fly With Me
Director: Joelle Tyea Enver
An unexpected love triangle between a bumblebee, balloon and a dinosaur.
Director: Katrina Brown
Katriana Brown’s charming and naive story is about a toddler’s first adventure. A young girl is determined to explore the local hills after being inspired by classic mountain literature. Both a celebration of climbing and of those triumphant early moments of childhood, “First Ascent” is a sweet and simple drama with an endearing protagonist.
Director: Jannis Lenz
“Freistil” is an engaging blend of performance art and free running as three performers interact with the concrete environment around them. Jannis Lenz’ short film is an expression of movement and dance as the trio of performances use their surroundings in novel ways, turning the city into a playground of endless possibilities. The use of heightened sound and a musical score that complements the athleticism of the dancers helps create an exciting audiovisual experience.
Go Daan Go!
Director: Mari Sanders
“Go Daan Go!” is a heartwarming story from recent graduate, Mari Sanders. The Dutch drama follows Daan, a nine year-old boy determined to become a champion swimmer. However, his mother is less enthusiastic as she fears her son may have inherited her heart problems. Going against his mother’s wishes, Daan secretly trains for an upcoming event - will he achieve his dream and receive his mother’s approval? Despite the familiar underdog story, Sanders’ short film succeeds due to its sympathetic characterisation and natural performances. The destination may never be in doubt but it remains an emotionally engaging journey throughout.
Director: Kit McDee
If the movies have taught us anything it is that the Australian countryside is a dangerous place. If you are a lone traveler in the Oz outback there is a good chance you won’t make it out alive. “Harvest,” Kit McDee’s sci-fi/horror short, reinforces this idea as robotics rep, Kiera Hamilton, visits a remote farm that has been taken over by her company’s machinery. The lo-fi special effects possess some charm and McDee wrings tension from the game of cat and mouse but I’m not sure the Australian tourist board would approve.
Director: André Nyström
There has been numerous cinematic interpretations of Heaven and the afterlife over the years but few quite like this satirical short from Sweden. André Nyström’s wry comedy follows the strange encounter of a recently deceased man as he tries to navigate a newly privatised afterlife. However, it is far from a heavenly experience as companies offer different packages in order to attract new business and increase efficiency. It is a wonderfully absurd idea that is smartly executed despite the obvious budgetary limitations.
Heavyweight (Film Contains Swearing)
Director: Jesper Quistgaard
Jesper Quistgaard’s “Heavyweight” has already received widespread attention and it isn’t hard to see why. This is one of the most accomplished short films at this year’s festival, managing to excel in all departments and deliver an engrossing and emotional story. When he discovers his young son believes he is a police officer catching criminals, a lowly parking attendant is inspired to become a crime fighter. “Heavyweight” is a touching, subtle and nuanced drama about a man trying to be the hero his son believes he is. With compelling characters and soft, muted cinematography this short is a Danish delight.
Director: Parnaz Rad
A powerful allegorical animated short film from Iran.
I’ve Just Had A Dream
Director: Javi Navarro
Javi Navarro’s dual-narrative film tackles the issue of equality, both racial and economic, as two children experience a shared dream yet have very different reaction to the events. “I’ve Just Had a Dream” is a smartly constructed short that carries a positive message as the audience watches the same events from two perspectives and shows the divide between the two girls’ interpretations. Crisply shot and edited this is an intriguing and socially aware film.
James And The Urn
Director: Louis Clark
“James and the Urn” is a heartfelt drama from Edinburgh-based writer-director, Louis Clark. A teenage boy, struggling to come to terms with the loss of his grandmother, steals her urn in order to take his grandmother’s ashes back to her favourite place. Featuring solid performances from the entire cast, “James and the Urn” impresses with its economy, tackling big emotions in a brisk five-minutes.
Director: Burak Cilsal
A professionally produced short exploring social divides on a Turkish subway.
Keys, Money, Phone (Film Contains Swearing)
Director: Roger Young
Following a heavy night out, Sebastian discovers he has lost his keys, wallet and mobile phone. Unable to get into his apartment he spends a futile night attempting to find a place to sleep. “Keys, Money, Phone” is one of the rare short films to feature a deliberately unsympathetic protagonist. It is a story of white privilege in Cape Town and even in Sebastian’s helpless position he still mistreats those around him. What makes Roger Young’s film so unexpected is that his protagonist experiences no real moral epiphany by the end which is perhaps the biggest indictment of the divisions that remain in South Africa.
Director: Yandong Qiu
A bold and colourful film about a boy’s boundless imagination.
Director: Aitor Marín Correcher
A bittersweet love story uniquely captured by a webcam in Times Square.
Director: Silvia Capitta, Alessandra Atzori, Francesca de Bassa, Ludovica Di Benedetto
Arguably the most visually arresting animated film of the festival, “Love Refrain” is a gorgeous blend of CG animation and watercolour. It is a short that uses the animated medium to great effect as a homeless man finds a working radio in a rubbish dump. Thus begins an unusual love story between the two as the relationship goes through its many stages, from the heady heights of a new romance to a bitter break-up. It is a quirky, unexpected but delightful film that should find many fans at XpoNorth.
Director: Kartik Gupta, Varun Nair, Bhanu Khandelwal, Eshana Multani
“Magarwasi” is yet another entry from a recent animation graduate. Kartik Gupta’s comedic short film follows Inspector Lobo, a drunk police officer on his way home, who encounters the malicious Magarwasi tribe. Featuring excellent lighting the computer-generated animation is certainly impressive considering the inexperience of the director whilst the kinetic action and larger than life characters should entertain young and old viewers alike.
Director: Romain Richard
This award-winning French comedy follows the eponymous Michel, a cantankerous old man who is forced to share his home with Pierre, a young student. Trying to organise an intimate dinner date with his girlfriend, Pierre must appease his difficult and nosey housemate. Romain Richard’s film is a beautifully observed comedy that plays on this fractious odd couple relationship. The performances are excellent, particularly Albert Delpy as Michel, whilst the gentle comedy springs naturally from the well rounded characters.
Director: Chris Cronin
Chris Cronin’s “Moments” is a brightly coloured romantic-comedy that is destined to put a smile on the face of even the most jaded filmgoer. It is the story of a young man who always misses out on life’s special moments. A chance encounter with a mysterious woman could change all that, but can he win her heart? Set in a world where characters spontaneously burst into dance and fall in love at first sight, “Moments” is an unapologetically feel-good film with an infectious charm that is sure to get your toes tapping.
Director: Muzappar Osman
Directed by New York Film Academy student, Muzappar Osman, “Money Box” features a simple high-concept premise and excellent production values. A man discovers a vending machine on a quiet street that gives out more than just bottles of cola. Yet, as is the way with humans, greed gets the better of him until he learns a costly lesson. “Money Box” is one of the shortest films in this year’s main programme, not wasting a single second in this tightly edited lesson in morality.
Director: Ziba Arzhang
An innovative mixed media short from Iran telling a tragic true life story.
Norman is Lost
Director: Joseph Felton, Jenny Harrington
A children’s book brought to life as a lost boy searches for a lighthouse.
Nose Of The Fairy Hill
Director: Arun Sood
A poetic and touching remembrance of a small Scottish village.
Not Anymore - A Story Of Revolution (Film Contains Swearing)
Director: Matthew VanDyke
“Not Anymore” is an emotionally gripping documentary about the Syrian conflict as experienced by a rebel commander and a young female journalist. In their own words we discover lives torn apart by war, their personal sacrifices and their hopes for an uncertain future. Featuring graphic and unflinching footage of the conflict, the short documentary proves to be difficult yet vital viewing and arguably one of the most important films on the festival programme.
Director: Salvatore Centoducati, Eleonora Bertolucci, Giulio De Toma, Ruben Pirito
Italy seems to be a growing force in animation this year with several shorts from the country making it into the main festival programme. “Office Kingdom” is certainly one of the most accomplished efforts with a compelling story that is matched by bold art direction and character designs. Salvatore Centoducati’s film is a delightful blend of comedy and action as a downtrodden clerk sets out on a dangerous journey in order to complete her paperwork. Featuring dynamic action and well-timed comedy, “Office Kingdom” is destined to be a crowd-pleaser.
On The Edge
Director: Roy Zafrani
Alona emigrated from the Ukraine to Israel when she was 13. Never feeling like she belonged anywhere she spiraled downwards until she took control and turned her life around. This award-winning documentary from Roy Zafrani is a moving study of a young woman who had the strength and courage to fix a life dominated by drugs and mental health issues. Alona is an engaging subject speaking frankly about her life and her struggles to feel connected to society.
One in a Million
Director: Darren Langlands
Some people are born unlucky, even those that win the lottery.
Out - A Coming Out Documentary
Director: Tommy Fletcher, Olivia Malesco
Coming out to friends and family must be one of the hardest things to do for a gay teenager, even in these more tolerant and accepting times. “Out - A Coming Out Documentary” interviews two such teenagers who talk candidly about how they felt before, during and after this monumental moment. The film’s unfussy and traditional documentary style allows the words of the teenagers to take centre stage as they speak openly and honestly about their feelings and how they have been received since.
Director: Lian Furness
“Pebble Moon” is a sweet and heartwarming story set on the Yorkshire coast. Seven year-old Lilly sees the world through the fantasy stories her two fathers read to her. When a mysterious woman enters their lives she must discover what true family means. Narrated by Lilly, the film remains firmly fixed to her perspective as she struggles to understand the complicated adult problems unfolding around her. Despite the short tackling potentially heavy themes it retains a pleasing lightness and naivety that is in perfect keeping with its young protagonist’s perspective.
Director: Rohit Gill
Made for a mere £100, “Planet X” is an ambitious sci-fi short on a shoestring budget. Employing a mock-documentary style, Rohit Gill’s satirical film documents the aftermath of a foreign planet appearing in Earth’s atmosphere. The arrival spreads fear amongst the population and is used for political gain by the government. Despite the non-existent budget, “Planet X’s” special effects are surprisingly accomplished whilst the fake news reel footage and panicked interviews with the public create an effective atmosphere of fear and uncertainty.
Director: Aleley Belyakov
Alexey Belyakov’s graduation film is based on a short story by acclaimed author, Vladimir Nabokov. In a chance encounter, a concentration camp survivor is reunited with a sadistic former officer of the Wehrmacht. However, now he has all the power and a razor blade to the throat of his former captor. “Razor” is a tense and emotionally charged film backed by compelling performances and striking cinematography. It is a film that will grip you until the closing credits.
Roses Are Red
Director: Abbey Sacks
A brief moment of kindness captured on the streets of Washington, USA.
Director: Martin Smatana
In a woodland clearing a young boy witnesses a dreamlike circus performance. However, he soon discovers that the price of admission to the performance may be too high. There is something magical about stop-frame animation that makes it the perfect medium for a story like this. This is an impressive debut film from Slovakian animator, Martin Smatana, with its oneiric atmosphere and colourful characters, you can’t help but be entranced by the show.
Director: Mark Callum
Scotoma means the partial loss of vision in an otherwise normal visual field. Rather fittingly this curious title becomes clearer by the conclusion of this compelling two-hander. Dawn is anxiously waiting at the crown court to be called to the dock. With her best friend for comfort the pair discuss the trial. Mark Callum’s film wisely focuses on the script and performances as the audience gradually learns about the case and the relationship between the friends. It’s a tightly constructed short that delivers an effective moment of clarity in its final minutes.
Someone Else’s Skin
Director: Patrick Perlman
Geoffroy has spent his entire life in a small French town and never met anybody who is different to him. When he gets lost in the multicultural Parisian area of Barbès he discovers his small town prejudices are not deserved. Patrick Perlman’s comedy short makes fun of Geoffroy’s warped world view whilst mocking his bigoted outbursts. Yet, impressively the audience is still able to care for the protagonist as he gradually discovers his beliefs are unfounded. With a sharp script and charming performances, “Someone Else’s Skin” is another French winner.
Director: Serdar Cotuk, Bugra Ugur Sofu
An amusing silent short about a group’s strange encounter at a bus stop.
Director: Mark Jenkins
“Surface” is an experimental docu-drama and one of the biggest surprises of the festival. Mark Jenkins' stunning film is shot with a GoPro camera around the waters of Orkney. The versatile camera allows the audience to go anywhere, from skimming across the sand to diving below the lapping waves. “Surface” is a truly unique audiovisual experience as the film travels around the islands capturing the sights of the land and the distorted sounds of the sea. The seamless editing gives the illusion of a single take whilst the music reinforces this inspiring journey of reflection.
Director: Hsun-Chun Chuang, Shao-Kuei Tong
A humorous CG short about the battle between a giant praying mantis and an inept superhero.
Director: Jacob Joyner
Tyler and Joy are working the night shift at a grocery story. It is Joy’s last shift and Tyler is running out of time to ask her out. Framed as a series of comedic daydreams the audience witness Tyler’s fears of rejection: can he finally muster up the confidence to ask the question? With solid production values and a fitting muzak-inspired soundtrack, “Swoon” is a sweet-natured romantic-comedy about the difficulties of opening your heart to another person.
Take Your Time
Director: Orson Cornick
Set in a Cornish town, “Take Your Time” marks the directorial debut of Orson Cornick. Tim, a quite young boy, collects clocks and will do anything to accumulate more - but what is the reason for this strange and fanatical hobby? This sincere drama explores a son’s love for his mother and the unusual lengths he will go to for her. Employing elements of magical realism, “Take Your Time” is likely to appeal to both young and old viewers.
Tall Tales Part 2
Director: Jon Turner
A slickly animated and humorous tall tale. Perfect for keeping the little ones quiet.
It is wonderful to see countries as far afield as Bahrain be represented at this year’s festival. Mohd Ateeq’s “Tarweeda” is the moving story of a wife chained up by her abusive husband and who manages to find freedom the only way she knows how. The film’s visuals prove to be just as powerful as its story with the strong colours and dynamic framing leaving a lasting impression. It is a pleasure to see the festival giving a voice to so many international filmmakers.
Ten Paisa And Grandmother
Director: Sachi Bansal
The second Indian short at this year’s festival, “Ten Paisa and Grandmother” is the story of self-discovery for a ten year-old boy in New Delhi. Chakku is a headstrong boy who has an answer for everything. When he steals ten paisa from his grandmother in order to buy a kite it triggers a series of events that will teach Chakku a valuable life lesson. The naturalistic style and honest performances enhance this simple yet engaging coming-of-age tale.
Director: Kevin McNulty
“Tethered” was a five year labour of love for its director, Kevin McNulty. Set in a unique cloud world where balloons are being oppressed by monstrous creatures called Ids, a brave red balloon finds the courage to fight against the injustice it finds around him. “Tethered” is an animated short with a blunt but powerful message. It is a story against bullying and oppression as the balloons find the courage to rise against the abuse and hate and regain their inner-power. It is a film with universal resonance, no matter your background or circumstance.
The Bird That Never Flew
Director: Hector Bizerk
The Bird That Never Flew - Accompanying their same-titled EP, “The Bird That Never Flew” is an unforgettable film from Glasgow hip-hop duo, Hector Bizerk. It is an arresting and angry state of the nation address as the pair attack growing social divides and modern culture. The film, directed by Hendo & Mackenzie, perfectly complements the band’s vision delivering an ever-shifting collage of Scottish life. Bold, ambitious and exhilarating, the short film is a perfect showcase for Hector Bizerk’s powerful music.
Director: Keith Mannix
Keith Mannix’s documentary is not for the squeamish as he explores the world of cockfighting in the Philippines. The film follows Rudy Bongoyan, a cockfighting trainer as he explains the rules and culture of the popular bloodsport and his curious relationship with his prized chickens. “The Fight” is a fascinating glimpse into a world few of us get, or even want, to see. Whilst some of the scenes are distressing Mannix manages to reveal a unique culture without ignoring the important question of animal cruelty.
Director: Venetia Taylor
A newly engaged couple wonder what the future will hold for their relationship, but when they come face-to-face with their future selves they might not be happy to know the truth. “The Future,” from writer-director Venetia Taylor, is an amusing relationship comedy that plays on people’s curiosity of the future. This economical short film deftly explores its premise whilst delivering one of the best punchlines of the entire festival.
The Girl and her Tail
Director: Yong Jie Yu
An expressive animated short from Singapore with a simple yet captivating style.
The Laboratory With Leaves
Director: Daniel Roberts
“The Laboratory with Leaves” is an informative documentary produced by the University of Oxford. Deep in the Wytham Woods, researches are studying the diversity of insects. Featuring interviews with the passionate scientists this short doc helps to reveal the importance of biodiversity and the vital part insects play in our ecosystem. You will also never look at ladybirds in quite the same way again...
Director: Michael Creutzburg
Yara is the new girl at school struggling to navigate social conventions. She is drawn to the pink-haired and independent, Nova, but when she discovers her new friend is a lesbian Yara has to make a decision between her own feelings and social acceptance. “The Latecomers” is a beautifully shot coming-of-age story with a soft colour palette matching the film’s pleasingly understated tone. The two central performances help support the film as the audience is pulled into their intimate world.
The Longest Day
Director: Tim Courtney, Shaun Hughes
A short film that demonstrates that you can find comedy even in life’s darkest moments.
The New News
Director: Danny Sandler
An informative mini-doc about the evolution of news platforms and the rise of local interests.
The Penguin Construction
Director: Mihály Schwechtje
“The Penguin Construction” is a droll comedy from Hungarian director, Mihály Schwechtje. Szabadit is middle-aged, unemployed and down on his luck when he is offered a new flat and job. With a new lease of life he sets out to win back the woman he loves but his upturn in fortune is not destined to last. This gentle and humorous film succeeds thanks to the sympathetic portrayal of Szabadit as he tries to turn his life around. It’s impossible not to feel for him as the world unfairly conspires against him.
Director: Nelson Fernandes
A melancholic yet beautifully animated stop-frame short constructed entirely out of cardboard.
Director: James Arden
“The Technician” is an accomplished graduation film from director, James Arden. Exploiting the fears of online and technological security this effective thriller explores what happens when curiosity costs more than just our privacy. The story follows a freelance IT technician who copies the private files of his clients but soon discovers something he wished had remained a secret. From a simple setup, Arden wrings tension out of the situation before delivering a bloody climax.
The Trouble With Lucie (Film Contains Swearing)
Director: Lionel Kaplan
“The Trouble with Lucie” is a short film that is sure to keep audience members on their toes. Lionel Kaplan’s slick and professional short follows Lucie, an actress who really wants to be a director. At her latest casting call reality meets fiction as the audience is thrown into an unreliable world where nothing can be trusted. The short is cleverly constructed as it playfully twists our perception of the events on screen but it is Clemence Faure’s excellent lead performance that helps anchor the film and ultimately make you care for her character.
The Wheel Of Time (Film Contains Swearing)
Director: Kagan Kerimoglu
Set in a dystopian future, “The Wheel of Time” features excellent production values and an engaging story. In the future the government create a serum that grants the population immortality. However, the cost of this immortality is being kept secret by the totalitarian state forcing a hacker to try and release the truth. Kagan Kerimoglu’s atmospheric short may tackle familiar sci-fi themes but the accomplished production and compelling performances make sure this a worthy addition to the festival programme.
Director: Michael Peeling
Eric returns home to visit his childhood friend, the recently engaged Lily. He convinces her to dig up the time capsule they buried as children. On their journey to the capsule they discuss the past, how time has changed their relationship and Eric’s true feelings for his lifelong friend. “Time Capsule” explores themes of regret and missed opportunities yet Michael Peeling’s film doesn’t go for the obvious. Instead it delivers a more truthful and emotional climax to a story that could have so easily become overly sentimental.
Trî Cíga (Film Contains Swearing)
Director: Liam Hall, Matias Breuer
“Trî Cíga” is an assured student short from filmmakers, Liam Hall and Matias Brewer. Set in a grey Prague park, the friendship between two adolescent boys is tested after a freak incident. The drab cinematography matches the wintery Prague locations as the boys’ situation quickly turns from messing around and stealing cigarettes into something far more serious. The young directors effectively coax natural performances from the even younger actors whilst exploring a compelling shift in their relationship.
Under The Same Roof (Film Contains Swearing)
Director: Dornaz Hajiha
This London Film School produced short film from director, Dornaz Hajiha, is centered around a complicated moral dilemma. A young married woman, Ana, is having an affair with her tenant, Diana. When her son finds the pair in a compromising situation, Ana tries to get Diana out of the house whilst keeping the truth from her husband. Hajiha avoids any easy answers whilst exploring this uncomfortable situation. With a measured pace the short captures Ana’s internal conflict and guilt whilst delivering an ending that leaves many of the relationships refreshingly unresolved.
Director: Shira Levin
“Upside Down” is a socially aware drama about acceptance and tolerance. A ten year-old girl, whose parents have recently divorced, befriends a transgender woman in her apartment building. However, her mother is displeased by her daughter’s new friendship. Writer-director, Shira Levin, explores themes of tolerance through this affectionate odd couple relationship between a precocious child and a brave woman who faces prejudices on a daily basis.
Director: Ian Todaro
Atka, an arctic grey wolf, travels across the USA to teach people about wolves and dispel some of the myths and stigma attached to the beautiful yet endangered creatures. Ian Todaro’s documentary is a film with a clear conservation message as it attempts to promote the protection of a much maligned animal. Featuring informative interviews with Atka’s carers, “Waning Wolf” educates its audience on the declining wolf population and reveals the truth about an animal that has unfairly become the villain in many popular stories.
Director: Yukai Du
A visually arresting animated short capturing our worrying dependence on technology.
We Got Your Back
Director: Viktor Hertz
An amusing and satirical short from Sweden that can be enjoyed guilt-free.
Where Are You Hiding?
Director: Nadia Abate, Victoria Musci, Francesco Forti
Produced by an all-female directing team, “Where are you Hiding?” is a novel animated short from Italy. Pietro, a four year-old boy who dreams of having a younger brother, sets out on an adventure to find one with the help of his friends. The film is a humorous and often surreal look at where children think babies come from. Using the far-fetched stories and fantasies of real children the filmmakers take the audience on an amusing an unexpected journey.
Director: Nor Hazlin, Nor Salam
A short documentary following the human stories of a road gang painting white lines on England’s roads.
Director: Olivier Lallart
Marc and Stéphanie are soon to be married but Marc must first make a decision that could alter their relationship forever. “White Swan” is a flirtatious French comedy from filmmaker, Olivier Lallart, exploring a simple moral dilemma whilst piling on the twists and turns. Marc is placed in a situation that threatens his upcoming marriage yet he still seems incapable of making the right decision. Whilst the film’s destination may appear predictable the director manages to throw in some welcome surprises to keep this short film fresh and engaging.