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...
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.