I have always been a big fan of short films, and the way big stories can be told in short run-times. I was glad therefore that the films in today’s programme were of extremely high quality and the stories told within them were in fact vast.
The first half hour showcased four selected films from the annual ‘Open Shorts’ competition, which were all fantastic, a fact made even more special by the amateur nature of the directors. Henry Worsley’s ‘Black Fate’ brimmed with dark, noir energy. Though the action was somewhat confusing, great emotion was conveyed by the light, camera angles and music. Tim Stannard’s ‘Greece is the Word’ was a fun, childish romp through Greek mythology sung to Grease by children. Not a serious or polished short film, but that was the point. Very fun. The cinematography in Milda Baginstock’s ‘Off Course’ was wonderful and somewhat reminiscent of Wes Anderson. The simplicity of style suited the theme of escaping to nature very well, and although once again confusing, it was very well made.
The darkest of the four, but certainly my favourite, was Mike Peacock’s ‘Alicija’. Tackling the difficult theme of human trafficking, it put a face and humanity to those involved, making for an incredibly powerful and well made film. And although it sometimes seemed slightly odd, the contrast between Alicija’s old and new lives really brought home the theme. A dark but excellent film.
The next hour showcased the six BAFTA-nominated short films, which were, as to be expected, more polished than those in the competition, having bigger budgets, though not always significantly so. The winner, Caroline Bartleet’s ‘Operator’, was highly moving and powerful, focussing on an Emergency Services Operator talking Gemma through a fire. I also liked Billy Lumby’s ‘Samuel-613’, a dark look at the interior conflict of a Hasidic Jew, and Jörn Threlfall’s ‘Over’, a backwards look at a crime scene and the unexpected cause. Though often difficult, all were a treat to watch.
Short films are always a great watch, and I would recommend all from the programme, particularly the competition films, as they really do deserve some serious recognition.