Cambridge Film Festival review – UK Shorts Programme 3

Screened: Monday 22nd September 2008

In addition to the feature films I saw at the CFF, I caught one of the three programmes of short films from the UK. They were a real mixed bag, so instead of reviewing the programme as a whole I’ve written a short piece on each film.

Speechless

Dir. James Cooper. UK. 8 mins.

First up, an engaging little short that took a neat concept and spun it out for maximum laughs. Devoid of spoken dialogue, the film shows a conversation in text message form between two gangsta-rap-obsessed teenagers. Very funny, nicely shot to show the texts against the locations, with a decent payoff.

Time Out

Dir. Angus Gafraidh. UK. 8 mins.

A man finds a copy of tomorrow’s newspaper, and uses it to his advantage. The film unfortunately kept skipping at odd moments, which at first I thought was just terrible editing. Pretty silly, but I have a soft spot for the goofy comedy feel of it, because it’s probably the kind of short film I’d make.

Terrafarmer

Dir. Will Adams. UK. 2 mins.

The adventures of an astronaut and his bumbling robot. Too short to make much of an impression, it had the feel of a channel ident.

Blunder

Dir. Simon J. Riley. UK. 8 mins.

Yet another addition to the overcrowded sub-genre of “sales rep goes to the rescue of an apparent kidnap victim, only to discover that she’s a happily married S&M enthusiast” slapstick comedies, with little to differentiate it from classics of the form.

The Legend of Ol’ Goldie

Dir. Matthew Snyman. UK. 8 mins.

A lonely young boy keeps a pet goldfish, but has to keep feeding it… A great combination of real footage and CGI, with a suitably absurd sense of of humour driving the twisted fairytale to its logical conclusion.

And The Man Is Born

Dir. Pavel Prokopic, Marie Morgan. UK. 9 mins.

A tale of unwanted pregnancy and 80s pop stars, with a bizarre mood enhanced by some well-chosen shots, and a nice performance from the lead actress. If you’ve ever wondered what Eraserhead might look like from a female perspective, this film will show you.

Sun In The Night

Dir. Anne Wilkins. UK. 4 mins.

Deep within woods that are more suggested than drawn, a story of grief and imagination is played out. Poignant and a little eerie, the animation style is a big plus.

21 Seconds

Dir. Ru McArdle. UK. 9 mins.

A drama about a security guard and a suicidal actress, set over one night in a car park. The decision to shoot in speeded-up long takes portrays the characters as immobile statues against a stream of rushing headlights, and lends the film the insomniac’s feel of a long night, not passing nearly fast enough. A great visual style, but almost ruined by the “message” at the end of the film: “Every life lost to suicide is a tragedy.” Yeah! Take that, suicide!

Charon

Dir. Chiara Ambrosio. UK. 13 mins.

A marvellous stop-motion animation depicting Charon, the figure in Greek mythology who ferries the dead over the river Styx. Charon is a hunched, wizened figure wrapped in tattered robes, moving in achingly slow jerks that seem eerily lifelike. The sound design brings every wheezing breath to life, as he moves on in a uniformly dark landscape. The standout short of the programme.

Sundays

Dir. Sarah Bick. UK. 6 mins.

This didn’t make as much of an impression on me as the others. The memorable parts were more about the art and design featured onscreen (a girl dressing up as a cupcake, etc.) than the filmmaking.

The best of the bunch? Charon, with Speechless coming in second.

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