Kino Shorts International Film Festival 2014 – British New Wave (1)

Befitting the now notorious tradition that us Brits are just about as creative as its possible to be given a camera, one person to stand behind and one in front of it, one programme of the best of British Short Films was never really going to allow enough space to allocate those truly deserving your attention. So this is only the first of two programmes created to recognise some truly outstanding talents that hail from our very own sceptred isle.

First up, of course, was Mark Gill’s The Voorman Problem, starring Martin Freeman and Tom Hollander. Nomainted for an Oscar for best short film, we have already mentioned this during our post about the Kino Shorts Preview, which you can read here if you haven’t already (where have you been?).
Second on the bill of one of the most anticipated programmes of the competition was The Hedgehog, a very simple yet effective tale from Chris Lee and Paul Storrie of a young, lonely boy and his adventures one day into the realm of a very miserable existence.
Dressed as his favourite video game character the young boy plays innocently enough until he carelessly walks into the abode of this desolate but familiar man and finds a truth he wasn’t expecting. Rangy and feral in its direction and choice of shot, this will keep you fixed on the screen.

Why make one half hour film with three seperate threads when you can make three short films and have aunderlying theme throughout each? Well, this is just the approach taken by acclaimed television director Andrew Gunn, who takes the central premise of a Caravan in the middle of nowhere and places writer Adam Thursby’s characters in and around it. Each of the three stories features a main performance from a truly on-form (when is he not, really?) Ian Puleston-Davies.

The third film in the trilogy also features a delightful turn from David Warner. Each of the three films are quite distinct from one another, with only the lead actor and the caravan appearing to be the vein of the tales. The three stories are all equally fascinating and feature wildly varying elements. From terror, loss and grief, through seemingly psychopathic menace with a little comical bent and one rather peculiar view of a possible dystopian future. All of the stories are directed beautifully and it should come as no surprise that the acting is first class too. Criminally short, each one of these tales would benefit from an extension to flesh out events, but isn’t at least one point of a short film to leave the audience wanting more? If so, The Caravan Trilogy easily achieves these goals.

Onto another film we have already visited, namely Cowboy Ben. Again, as with The Voorman Problem, we watched this on the night of the festival preview, which you can see again here, for a reminder.

Next up, Help Point. After the superlative Caravan Trilogy and Gill’s Voorman Problem, it was looking increasingly difficult to imagine what anybody could come up with to challenge either of these excellent projects. Step up Andrew Margetson then, as he directs and writes this thirteen-minute film about a man and a woman that have both lost their cars in a huge airport car park. The only way to find their lost vehicles, it seems, is to go to the titular help point and press the button for assitance, which is answered by the disembodied voice of Stephen (John Thomson) who is to become something of a light-hearted nemesis. A natural lightness of being and beautiful pacing make Help Point a breeze to sit through. The characters are wll realised and the dialogue is both sound and delivered with an ease that implies a confidence in the abilities of both director and writer. Add to this that the script is actual very funny on its own, the excellent timing and delivery by Cian Barry and Ruta Getmintas is lovely to witness. An all round win-win in what is increasingly becoming a very strong category.

From the light-hearted and breezy to something much more sinister from director Mark Davenport and writer Graeme Brooks. The cautionary tale of One In Five (main picture) focuses its beady eye on the subject of physical and domestic abuse, with a thorny twist. Here, in what is becoming an increasing trend, is the story of a husband (Robert Hardman) abused by his wife (Georgia Taylor). Ramping up the tension, One In Five may easily not have worked without the inarguable skills of both a considerate director and talented performers. Hardman and Taylor both provide outstanding performances, never letting the severity of the events become comic, using admirable subtlety where necessary to highlight manipulation and delicate coercion on the part of the abused by the abuser. In the wrong hands, this could have become ridiculous, subsequently belittling the very serious message being sent to its audience. Great characters, intelligent direction and a realistic, unsettling script make One In Five a very serious contender for any award it is eligible for.

 

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