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By midlandsmovies, Aug 27 2017 04:47PM

The Short Cinema 2017 - Part 2

For Part 1 of The Short Cinema showcase 2017 please click here:


After a much needed beer break, I headed back into the main screening room for the second part of the excellent Short Cinema 2017 to discover even more great films from the region’s talent...

Ultrasound – Kon-Tiki by Andrew Rutter

This successful music video (and ultimately eventual winner of The Short Cinema 2017 Main Competition) is directed by Andrew Rutter using a track by the group Ultrasound to launch a whirlwind coming of age story mixing surreal visuals with the band’s catchy melodies. Tackling serious subjects of inner conflict – the young protagonist begins on a bike yet behind closed doors dresses in high heels and nail varnish – the film does so in an entertaining way without ever poking fun at the teenager. With a healthy dose of nostalgia, the film’s most successful images are the most strange and dreamlike ones from an “astro” love-making session to personal reflections on a lake. In the end, Rutter has high ambition and more than achieves his aims throughout the video which itself ends on an explosive climax.

Watch the full video here: https://vimeo.com/192961828

A Broken Appointment by Kaleb D’Aguilar

A 3-minute short about same-sex relationships, A Broken Appointment showcases the complicated issues of closeting and hiding feelings in the gay community. Mixing tender and violent emotions, the film condenses a lot into its short run time from the first touching of hands to the complexities faced by a mixed-race gay couple. Dark yet offering a glimpse of optimism, the film’s sensitive narrative is a dramatic slice-of-life exploring marginalised groups in a responsible and delicate manner.

Find out more information here: http://caribbeantalesfestival.com/project/a-broken-appointment/

Girl A by Jess O’Brien

Reviewed by Midlands Movies earlier this year, Girl A still packs a metaphorical and physical punch on a third watch as young filmmaker Jess O’Brien doesn’t flinch from her story of a bully from a broken home. Using strong language and flashes of violence, the solid story and great performances from a teen cast help infuse the film with believability, as we see a troubled pupil lash out at school owing to problems at home. With some great tracking shots and an open ended finale the film is a local success from a strong young filmmaking voice.

Read our full review here: http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Feature-Review---Girl-A/11098121

Vandella Day by John McCourt

Actor Kieron Attwood reappears on our list in this darkly comic short from Leicester filmmaker John McCourt. Alongside Lois Cowley, Attwood plays one of two people holed up in a confined space where we find there is just one bullet left in their gun as they think the unthinkable. With the noise of attackers approaching and with no apparent way out, the gun is raised to their heads but malfunctions at the most inopportune time. The intense 1-minute short sets up its characters, cramped location and desperate motivations in mere seconds and filmmaker McCourt turns the tables when an accident with the firearm leads to less than pleasant consequences. A brief but forceful short, Vandella Day’s in-your-face extremities will hit you like a bullet in the head.

Find out more about Vandella Day here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6483644/fullcredits/

Betty by Jordan Handford

Another film reviewed by us earlier in 2017 is this drama from Jordan Handford about the effects of dementia. Set on a park bench the film slowly pans around Betty’s distant face before she is joined by a man who regales her with a story from his past that connects to her own. A subtle film on a sensitive subject, the story had personal connections to me after my own mother lost her battle against dementia in May of this year. “Betty” tackles the issues with a finely tuned script that is masterly delivered by John Ghent as Eric, who uses the well-written dialogue to capture the spirit and memories of the past whilst acknowledging the difficulties of the present.

Read our full review of Betty here: http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Midlands-Film-Review---Betty/11160736

The Last Drop by Sascha Zimmermann

Written by Nottingham-based screenwriter Tommy Draper, this new short had a true international flavour having been made in Germany. Der Letzte Tropfen (The Last Drop) concerns itself with a self-help group who are experiencing problems with drink dependency with some attendees less than pleased with being there. The group’s advisor tries to maintain some civility as each member explains (or doesn’t) the problems with their addiction. As a first-time stranger joins the group the film goes into overdrive as it switches genres right before our eyes in a spectacular but satisfying “rug-pull”. With a tremendous script and brilliant turns by the German cast, the film is a superb collaborative effort that audiences can get their teeth into.

Find out more here: http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Midlands-Spotlight---Nottingham-writer-Tommy-Draper-heads-to-Germany/11200733

The Inuring by James Hughes

With another tale this evening of childhood abuse, The Inuring looks at a teen who is a victim of bullying who confronts a sister about their past. An astonishing Emily Haigh plays troubled teen Aleish who has been bullied yet keeps many private thoughts to herself. Locking herself in a room, her sister (Sarine Sofair as Claudette) places herself on the other side of the door in an attempt to get her sibling to talk. Haigh’s performance shows the systematic breakdown of a put-upon victim and during their awkward interactions, dark secrets of the past are revealed which raises the stakes in their important conversations. With a bleak and gloomy tone and great cinematography the film is not for the faint of heart but winning performances make this short a satisfying drama of angst, regret and childhood ruin.

For more info click here: http://www.theinuring.com

Retrograde by Eve Wills-Wilson

This 10 minute experimental film uses varying film stock and images to cover issues of the past, present and future as well as celestial bodies and the movement of the oceans. The archive sound drones in the background as an abstract series of repeating motifs are shown. Not to my personal tastes – the backwards clock being a cliché crime – the film nonetheless has its roots in contemporary art and would suit an installation in a modern gallery where its ethereal imagery could be studied and discussed. With lots of random footage and film speeds, I would liken the short to a visual version of The Beatles’ “Revolution No. 9” – i.e. some will consider it a disorganised collage whilst others will see intellectual gifts within. Take your pick.

Watch the short here: https://vimeo.com/200670585

Bless You by Daryl Grizzle

Three videogame-playing friends sit in a front room in this short from Daryl Grizzle who uses the situation to discuss the history of one of the most used phrases of all time. As one of the pals does a particularly large sneeze, his friend gives him a courteous “bless you” before each of them in turn explains their version of the origins of the custom. From the plague and saving angels to keeping the devil at bay, the trio of chums lull the audience into a false sense of security with their banter before a jump-scare filled conclusion. Moving from a lightweight discussion to a darker ending the short is an off-kilter blessing in disguise.

Find out more info here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6867424/

Loyal to War by Parang Khezri

Made by award-winning Iranian filmmaker Parang Khezri, Loyal to War was one of the shortest and strangest films of the night. With middle-eastern imagery and a boy looking into a mirror (actually cleverly played by two actors through a frame), the film is a surreal look at nature and life. With some filming shot backwards and the images of petals and mirrors, the short asked the audience to reflect on its ideas but provides very little context as to meaning. An intriguing visual statement, the film is baffling in many ways but portrays a very mysterious aura and an enigmatic puzzle to study long after it ended.

Catch Parang’s previous 2010 short TABU: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zke-4oogD60

Upgrade by Mike Doxford

The final film of the night is another Random Acts funded project called Upgrade, where we are shown a night watchman who heads into a building to see a number of random youths hooked up to different technology. This tech seems forbidden, hence the security, but we notice they are listening to old headphones and playing old handheld video-games. The guard then presses play on an vintage tape recorder which plays some funky brass-filled salsa music. After a bit of head nodding the guard (played well by James Bartholomew) gets “into the groove” and begins dancing around the building. Linking the physical dance with the analogue tape player – the film presents a tangible world which stands in stark opposition to the passivity of modern day digital technology.

Find out more here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6394702/

In conclusion, with 22 varied films from different genres this year seemed more than just a showcase of film but acknowledged the huge work done by the community. In these films’ reflection and representation of different stories and narratives, the emphasis was on art and in the face of funding issues throughout the industry it was even more impressive to see the quality on show at the festival.

For more info on the Short Cinema please click here and a big thank you to all the organisers including the magnificent Alexzandra Jackson for such a tremendous 4-day event.

Midlands Movies Mike

Below are some photos from the evening.

By midlandsmovies, May 7 2017 08:09PM

Betty (2017)

Dir. Jordan Handford

Betty is the latest short film from Leicester-based director Jordan Handford, and takes a look at an illness that unfortunately impacts the lives of so many people.

The short takes covers a conversation that takes place between Eric (John Ghent) and Betty (Christine Hall), a husband and wife who have been together for years. It is clear to see that Betty suffers from dementia, and that with each day that passes Eric loses more of his companion to the devastating condition. The idea came to Handford following his own personal experiences with the illness and discovering the true extent of just how devastating it can be, especially when it takes hold of loved ones.

A heartbreaking reality is portrayed here, and the film will hit very close to home for so many people. However, the stand out feature of this film is the fact that it doesn't take a depressive approach to the matter. There is no escaping the fact that the topic of the film is pretty heavy, but it is delivered in a way that feels a lot lighter than it is, with the undertones of major sadness hitting you just as the film ends, as opposed to lingering with you throughout the whole film.

The performances are what make this short so wonderful. John Ghent was very good as Eric. He conveyed the sadness of the situation so well, but left it to you to read between the lines to find that sadness. It wasn't flashed in your face at all, showing what is often the reality with those left to care for their relatives. Likewise, Christine Hall was equally as brilliant. It wasn't obvious that she was a sufferer of dementia, and when it came to the fore that she was ill, I felt that it was done very tastefully.

There was a real authenticity surrounding her character, and I think this came down the very small details of her performance. The empty gazes she held for a few considerable durations, and the variations in the temperament of her character pulled the performance together completely.

There wasn't so much a storyline to this short, which I personally think was a good thing. To attempt to portray the whole timeline of Betty's illness in the film would have been impossible without including huge time gaps. I feel as though that would have made the film very disjointed.

The one long take of just this conversation allowed the film to flow nicely and let me just settle in and watch that one thing, as opposed to just getting my bearings with one shot and then moving onto another. I think it also worked very well in the film's favour to act as a snapshot of these people's lives. It was very much like a passing acquaintance with these two people, something that was overheard during a visit to the park when they were also there, leaving you to create your own story around the snippet of conversation you caught.

On the whole, I have to say that I liked Betty very much. Handford's personal attachment to the film's subject really shone through, and the way the whole thing has been put together did it immense justice. The two actors did a great job with the dialogue they were given, which really added bucket-loads to what had already been poured into the film. I'd definitely recommend that anyone who has five minutes and access to this short use the two wisely - it will absolutely be worth it.

Kira Comerford

By midlandsmovies, Sep 7 2016 08:11PM

Filmmaker Jordan Handford has been playing around with the idea of Capricious for a while as he has never been enitrely happy with it writes Midlands Movies writer Kira Comerford. But now finished, she catches up with this new Leicester short film premiered last month at The Shortish Cinema...

Capricious is about a family whose relationship is tested following a car crash in which a mother is injured. The connection between them changes as the father blames his son Sean (Andrew Joshi). But Sean chooses to deal with things in his own way, refusing to work and even talk which adds further strain to his parents, particularly his father, Alan (Eric Wharton).

Alan demands that Sean is brought along to the family business the following morning (Valentines Day) by his friend, Martin (played by Ed Spence). Encouraging Sean to break free from his reclusive life and become more active, this is at odds with Sean's mental state which is tested further when he and Martin arrive at a shop to discover a robbery has taken place. With no witnesses to hand, Sean and Martin are in no position to take matters into their own hands, are they?

The idea for Capricious stemmed from Jordan's viewing of Death Sentence. He had always found a great love for revenge films as he, like everyone, loves to see the good guys win. However, when it came to creating his own homage to the revenge films he had seen, the filmmaker wanted to make a project with a slight difference.

Capricious is the first film Handford has completed as both the writer and director, however he is keen to emphasise that the project was very much a team effort. The limited time and virtually non-existent budget has meant that Handford couldn't be more grateful for the time, effort and commitment the whole cast and crew have put in since work got underway. After having recently been showcased as part of The Short Cinema in Leicester, the team are hoping for a decent festival run while also working on a few other things that will get them back on set in a few months’ time.

And now for my short review of the short…

Capricious (2016) Dir. Jordan Handford

I have to say I quite enjoyed Capricious. The dark tone of the film was what I absolutely loved about it. Director Handford has said that he wanted a revenge film with a slight difference, and that is exactly what he presented to us. It was refreshing (although I don't imagine that is the phrase that first springs to mind) to see a film such as this where revenge is never really achieved by anyone.

There were a few really solid performances in the film, however Andrew Joshi was the standout. Despite saying little or nothing throughout the film, it is his performance that sticks in my mind a few days after watching the short.

Joshi provided quite a symbolic presence, and allowed the audience to come up with their own interpretations of what had happened, and what was about to happen. They say that less is more – something that was certainly the case with Joshi’s performance.

The ‘less is more’ approach is the angle that much of the film took. I found it to be quite minimalist, which is something that I rather enjoy seeing in all films. There was a a lot that was never said out loud, nor spelt out for the audience, but instead the film allowed the audience to come up with their own conclusions.

All in all, I was quietly impressed by Capricious. The minimalist approach taken by every aspect of the film saw the simple things done well, and the dark tone made the film oddly satisfying to watch. For me, however, the key thing was how many questions I was left with afterwards. Much like is the case with some of my favourite thrillers, there are so many things that were left open-ended with Capricious that I have kind of been left wanting more.

Kira Comerford

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