Bafta Shorts 2015: The Verdict

Last Wednesday and Thursday, Filmhouse held two special screenings of a collection of Bafta nominated short-films, packed within a feature film time slot. Having for the last few years received funding from Creative England and the British Council, cinemas all over the UK are now able to screen these films for the general public. This is a real breakthrough, as short films as a format tend to be overlooked by mainstream spectators; their niche audiences are those at film festivals or predominantly online. This is a real shame as they’re often thought-provoking and, due to time constraints, more concise, meaningful and well-structured than widely released blockbusters. The Student went along to this screening, which was followed by a Q & A with the two directors of the animation Monkey Business. Here’s the verdict.

Emotional Fusebox – This film is about a 30-something year old women, who isolates herself into her garden shed, to the dismay of her mother. She spends her time animating finger-puppets and slowly we come to understand her predicament. The film is visually inventive and serves as a testament to the power of female friendship, as the one saving grace in the bereaved woman’s depression (presumably) is her best friend who, amongst other thing, dresses up as David Hasselhoff and generally lightens up her life. It’s a funny, touching, quirky film very much driven by the assortment of lively characters introduced.

My Dad – A short film depicting a dad’s influence on a young boy’s life. His judgmental character mixed with the boy’s fondness for his dad prove to be a toxic mix that tears away at a world of opportunity and experiences. This is a short animation made with oil pastels and newspaper clippings which creates an abstract, disorienting world exploring the bombardment of prejudicial attitudes upon a young child, already trying to navigate the overwhelming world he’s been born into. This film is very much one which needs to be felt rather than intellectualised; the director creates an immersive, colourful reality which stays with you afterwards.

Slap – A fantastic central performance from up-and-coming actor Joe Cole drives this film, which, whilst engaging, isn’t entirely original in its premise. It resembles the plot of Billy Elliot in that its young male character spends his free time exploring stereotypically ‘feminine’ activities such as dressing up as a woman and applying makeup. Graced with a macho, domineering father he struggles to live a life which is true to himself and the film shows his attempt to come out to his friends and his subsequent rejection. It’s a well-drawn character portrait and one that needs to be seen. It serves to empower those from the trans community and shows the prejudice they face amongst their peers.

Three Brothers – This gentle, touching short follows teenager Hamid as he cares for his two younger brothers in place of their absent father and recently deceased mother, and demonstrates both the fragility and the starkness of life.  The banality and bleakness of working class urban life, with shots of the motorway and derelict back yard is lightened though the comradery and love between the three brothers.

The Bigger Picture – A larger than life-size animated film that tells the stark and darkly humorous tale of caring for an elderly parent. One son flees when anything practical needs to be done, leaving the other an unwilling martyr – and Mother doesn’t make it easy for either of them. In a surreal and comic world, the brothers endeavour to deal with a situation most of us face in the end – what shall we do with our parents?

The Karman Line – When a mother is hit by a rare condition that sees her lift off the ground at a slow but ever increasing rate, her husband and daughter are forced to come to terms with losing her.

Monkey Love – Inspired by love, a misguided monkey believes he’s destined for the moon

Boogaloo and Graham – This delightful drama centres on two loveable boys Jamesy (Riley Hamilton) and Malachy (Aaron Lynch), who are over the moon when their soft-hearted dad (Martin McCann) presents them with two baby chicks to care for. Christened ‘Boogaloo’ and ‘Graham’, the chickens begin to rule the family roost until a surprise announcement means their fluffy necks may be on the block.

If, whilst in the firm grip of pre-exam mania, you’d like a quick break without getting sucked into hours of (not always fantastic quality) Netflix, check out https://www.shortoftheweek.com for the best short-films being produced worldwide.

Photograph: Ben Sutherland (CC BY 2.0)

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