The sparkling Short Cinema tells talented tall tales
By midlandsmovies, Aug 28 2016 09:20AM
From its beginnings as a pop-up screening night in the “snug” of Leicester’s local real ale pub The Criterion, the Short Cinema has gone from showing local music videos on a DVD and projector to a 4-day film extravaganza at The Phoenix – the city’s premier independent cinema.
Celebrating local, national and now international filmmakers, the festival is commemorating its 10th triumphant year where it has given a unique platform to aspiring filmmakers from all genres.
The culmination of the 4-day event is the Saturday night main competition where a selection of respected judges vote for the year’s best in show. With submissions growing exponentially every year, it is an accomplishment that the festival has even managed to slim the entrants to just these fantastic films.
Arriving to a packed foyer at the Phoenix, filmmakers mingled with film fans and a buzzing audience queued early such was the anticipation for this special evening. Settling down with a lovingly crafted ‘goodie’ bag, I joined my fellow cinephiles for an evening of high quality drama, horror, animation and more.
The quality this year was as high as it has ever been so please read below for my thoughts on the films from the night after the jump...
Pitiful Corpses directed by Tom Young opened the evening with a monologue based on Chekhov’s work which was a simple and understated film to get things underway. A fantastic performance captured in extreme close up mixed the intricate words of the Russian playwright with a reveal of modern homelessness to subvert expectations.
Next up was John McCourt’s Rachel which was a standalone piece from his larger series Arrivals. Directed, written and produced by McCourt, the film’s dialogue slowly revealed a story of possible time travel that mixed sci-fi and a police procedural. A superb comic turn from Jordan Handford as an interrogator got the first laughs of the night which complimented the film’s serious premise.
Tom Young was back again for Interference which showed a spaceman searching for a missing family member on an alien planet. Unfortunately, this was a weaker effort than his first film with a confused focus and although the short was intentionally ambiguous, for me Interference fell sligtly into incoherence. Positively, this film was originally made in 24 hours for the Five Lamps 24 hour film competition which was still a great achievement to complete.
The fourth film of the evening was Paper Plane by Joey Lever. Set during World War 2 the film was located in the impressive Victorian country house Beaumanor Hall near Loughborough where a small child sees his older brother leave to fight in the trenches whilst communicating by radio with another child in the blitz. A melancholic drama, the film used stirring aerial shots with a notable intimacy whilst both the soundtrack and sound effects were some of the best of the evening.
L.O.A.B. was the quirky eclectic effort of the evening as director Peter James used an almost blank screen for the duration of his comedy (you could argue tragedy)-laced short before a funny end reveal. An emergence from a ‘packet’ finally disclosed what the cryptic acronym actually stands for- the short life cycle of a grocery provision is all I’ll say.
Up next was Kebabylon directed by C.D. Cronin which was a longer drama-comedy about a late night take-away and a culture clash of generations. A fantastic drama, the film moves from light-heartedness to more serious themes about working hard, family and pursuing your goals. A passionate performance by Annil Mittoo as the owner of the kebab shop was a highlight of a delightful and dramatic short.
Young filmmaker Jess O Brien who has been featured on Midlands Movies before showcased her excellent new film Hinterland. Focusing on choices and containing only child actors, the cast gave first-rate performances with the award-winning Jess supported by the superb Jacq Ardron and Tyler Dunnan.
Finally, the evening’s first half was completed with an amusing comedy short directed by Mike Yeoman called Parenthood. More of a skit than a fully fledged cinematic short, the huge laughter from the crowd came from a grown man dressed as a boy having fun with his ‘dad’ at a local playground. A League of Gentleman-style dark twist is revealed at the end as the man-child is paid for his ‘services’.
Ending on this humorous high took us all into an interval with the entire audience excitedly looking forward to the night’s second half.
Midlands Movies Mike