On Sunday 15th November, I attended a screening of eight films that had been entered into the British Short Film competition. All the films were under 15 minutes and each one surprised and entertained the audience in different ways. The eight films I watched actually only represented half of the entries for the competition, it was a great opportunity to view work by up and coming directors and writers. The first short on the program was Edmond directed by Nina Gantz. This stop motion animation, told a surreal story about a man who has an overwhelming urge to be close to others. As an opening film, Edmond certainly prepared the audience for the range of material that would be presented that afternoon.
There is definitely a special skill involved in making a good short film; utilising the inherent mystery that these snapshots of film possess but at the same time resisting the tumble into incoherency which such a limited time frame can cause. Two films stood out for me as perfecting this balance. The first was Cracked. This film took the audience’s preconceived ideas of ‘youths’ on council estates. The competition between two rival gangs was displaced onto conkers. Using tropes from documentaries on drug dealers, director Peter King created a wonderfully funny film which played with the audience’s expectations.
The second film which really made an impression on me was Balcony, directed by Toby Fell-Holden. It told the story of the friendship between Tina and Dana, an Afghani girl. With the rise of Islamophobia the film is particularly relevant today. This piece dealt with the misconceptions people hold about different cultures and the desire to see your own struggle in others’. The friendship between the two girls, though born from a place of miscommunication, was touchingly presented and well developed even in the restricted running time.
Though there was no compulsory theme that the films were centred around, many seemed to address the topic of communication or rather the difficulty of communication. The struggle for male identity in the modern world also came up in multiple films. The eventual winner of the competition was Rate Me (pictured), directed by Fyzal Boulifa, a film composed of a number of online reviews of a prostitute called Coco. With each review, the identity of this girl changed. The film revealed the internet’s power to build up and then destroy individuals. I personally disagreed with the selection of this film as the winning title because it did not possess the poignancy of some of the other films and, though it did raise some interesting points, It left me confused rather than thoughtful.
The British Short Film competition was a perfect illustration of why events like the Leeds Film Festival are so fantastic. It is unlikely that many people in the Hyde Park Cinema had watched many short films before as they rarely get the distribution they deserve. I stand before you as a converted woman who will certainly seek out more short films in the future.
Image: Director’s Fortnight