This year’s Norwich Film Festival presented an excellent selection of short films created by talented young students from a plethora of countries. In the animation department are two short films, Perched and I am Dyslexic, both of which showcase incredible talent.
Sweet Maddie Stone (image above) directed by the British Brady Hood, is in a similar vein, with equal measures humor and heart. The short revolves around the rambunctious, schoolgirl Maddie Stone, played with gumption by up-and-coming actor Jessica Barden, who rules the schoolyard by peddling pick and mix candy bags. It is impossible not to fall in love with the character, who appears as a unique, modern female hero. This short has the feel of a cult film and deserves to go down in history as one.
Perched, directed by the British Liam Harris, is a surreal animation of a man living in a submarine marooned on top of a mountain. His survival depends on meticulously maintaining equilibrium, without which the submarine would plummet into certain doom. The man’s life is threatened when a mischievous seagull moves in. The short showcases a gorgeous steampunk aesthetic and a mix of hand drawn and 3D animation. This charming short is scored with joyful folk music bustling with banjo. (Perched Image below)
In contrast, I am Dyslexic, by Norwegian director Mads Johan Oegaard, is a gloomy affair that deals with the stress and alienation children can feel when dealing with dyslexia growing up. The short tackles this theme through the metaphor of its dyslexic main character climbing a mountain of words and paper, accompanied by a moody piano piece. The short’s animation is fluid and gorgeous, and its message one of acceptance and empathy.
Of the five shorts shown, Right of Passage¸ by British director Emma Wheeler, stood out as the only documentary short film. The short gives a moving, intimate look into the hardships young LGBT asylum seekers face in Germany. The film focuses on trans and gay youth from Lebanon and Afghanistan and gives a balanced view on what you lose and gain in moving from your home country to a foreign country. The young subjects speak of missing the traditions and sense of belonging they felt back home, but enjoying their newfound freedom to live life true to themselves in Germany. The film highlights the positive effects made by support groups and non-profits geared towards helping LGBT immigrants connect with people from similar cultural backgrounds who are accepting of LGBT and/or are themselves LGBT.
The fiction short Spilt Milk, directed by the British James Dunstan, tackles LGBT issues in a strikingly different fashion. It tells a classic story of friendship with a dark twist. The plot revolves a teenage girl and her attraction to her male best friend as they prepare for prom. At the same time, both are dealing with personal issues pertaining to sexual abuse and struggles with gender identity respectively. The short includes a dazzling and heartbreaking 80’s influenced prom scene, featuring a split-screen effect reminiscent of 500 Days of Summer. (Spilt Milk Image below)
The short Hunger Keeps Walking, directed by Giulia Canella of Italy, perfectly balances humor and drama. It tells the story of a young anorexic man who attempts to court a girl from a phone sex line. The gorgeous cinematography, featuring shots of the main character’s bland and empty apartment, highlights the feelings of isolation and loneliness the main character experiences.
Review by Caroline Worning
Award Sponsored by Arnolds Keys