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.