Monday 13th November 2017 at the festival saw the screening of six officially selected shorts, made with the support of the Creative England, a not-for-profit company dedicated to the growth of the creative industries. The selected six offered a truly diverse screening of works, and were definitely a welcome addition to the festival program.
Belle and Bamber (image above) written and directed by Alex Forbes, offered up a familiar tale of a young girl trying to leave behind her imaginary friend. In a not so familiar twist, Bamber, Belle’s imaginary friend, tries to convince Belle to murder her mother. Audience reaction strongly suggested that this was not a twist they saw coming. At the first sight of the bright, blue, furry monster, Bamber, members of the audience let out an audible ‘awe’. At his next line there was laughter, and then as the darkness of Belle and Bamber’s psychosis fuelled relationship became clear, there was silence. Belle and Bamber was a well-executed short, well paced and driven by an engaging concept. As much as I enjoyed the film, I found its parting message troubling. Belle ignores Bamber’s pleas to kill her mother and instead the two fight. Belle wins, after stabbing Bamber in the head with a pair of scissors, only for it to be revealed that as he was imaginary, Belle had actually been cutting herself with the scissors all along. The message seeming to be that in order to get over the emotional torment of losing her only friend, she was forced to resort to self-harm. Troubling. 6/10.
Howls (image below) – 2nd on the roster, and written and directed by Catriona MacInnes, Howls followed a mother and son’s retreat into a Scottish rural hut community. Everyday anxieties get to them both however, with the child finding comfort with a mysterious re-appearing wolf. A brilliant soundscape, including diegetic banjo driven band performances, fantastic on-location shooting and an amazing child performance really made this one a must see. 9/10
A Father’s Day (pictured below) – Another short presenting a well realized twist was Mat John’s A Father’s Day, which charted the interaction of a father and daughter on Father’s Day. The twist being that they are zombies and they are dead. That being said, this entirely dialogueless short was skillfully made and completely engrossing. One particularly moving moment, showed the zombie father helping his daughter to fix her arm, as her decaying body begins to break down. 8/10
The Crossing (pictured below) – A captivating watch with a truly incredible and hypnotizing main performance. The Crossing follows Cavan Clerkin’s character Terry, suffering from nightmares, as he tries to come to terms with the break down of his relationship, and his own infertility. 8/10
These were followed up by The Full Story, an artfully animated short, that dealt with re-surfacing memories from a childhood home, and Trigga, the story of a young girl who manages to overcome the torment of her playground bullies with the emotional stability of her horse. Both these shorts provided excellent viewing.
Overall, this evening's short film selection provided depth, insight and entertainment!
Review By Sam Briggs