Kino Shorts International Film Festival 2014 – British New Wave (2)

The second and final selection of British Short Films at the Kino Shorts Festival featured a noticeably more diverse group of films, straying much closer in some cases to artistic endeavour than we would have expected. This is certainly not true for all of the films on offer in the section, but if nothing else, this does continue to highlight the vast depth of talent we enjoy on home soil and their predilection for creating visionary experiences that may be considered less obvious.

Opening this selection was The Horton Brothers’ ten-minute short Get Some (main picture), mostly featuring Warren Brown and John Hannah, as we are led into the forest hunting for zombies. Brown plays the ‘Hunter’, seemingly playing up for the benefit of the cameras that are shooting his intrepid derring-do for the sake of some television show he would apear to be making. Decked out in camoflage, armed to the teeth and ready for action, he is assisted by the initially releuctant observer Dr James Borans (John Hannah) who is not keen on being along for the ride. Admittedly tongue-in-cheek, this zombie hunt is entertaining, throwaway fun that you will probably forget the minute you leave the screening. Comical in intent and design, it raises a smile or two aswell, which is no bad thing in such a short running time.
This was followed by a call to action in the balletic form of Shift. That call being to get out of the office and take some air. Directed by Patrick Ryder and choreographed by Del Mak, this is a fascinating change of pace and space, seamlessly altering environments as our lead Renako McDonald makes formidable use of the suburban areas around him to deliver a beautifully fluid performance. Whether you could classify this as a short film per se, will depend on what you expect to receive from the experience.
The multi-tasking Dan Kokotajlo’s Off Yer ‘Ead was third on the bill, starring Andrew Shim and Aliya Gulamani. This thirteen-minute short tells the cautionary tale of the dangers of dating someone you meet initally on the internet. Si (Shim) and Sheneez (Gulamani) hit it off online, decide to go on a date and then begin a relationship that will go in directions you won’t expect, but also will not be suprised by. The direction is very watchable as are the two leads, rounded enough to be believable.

Next up was Jack King’s Geezer. the story of a lonely and reclusive man and his relationship with a young boy that also happens to be one of his neighbours. Gritty and sometimes uncomfortable viewing, King lays on a realist’s glare, leaving no place for escape. Shot harshly yet honestly, it is clear that King is a unique new talent and draws some very impressive performances from his cast. Of the selections in this category, Geezer was my own personal favourite, delivering a satisfying and completely convincing twenty-minute experience to the audience.

Pitched as a crossover between fiction and documentary, Concrete Sleep is truly an enigmatic hybrid. Told through the narration of its featured players, filmed in their own urban surroundings, this experience is very difficult to effectively pigeon-hole for the benefit of its potential audiences. More artform than storytelling, this student project is certainly inventive and original and as a calling card for the trio (!) of directors responsible, quite notable. You can thankfully view the film yourself, right here.

Arguably less artistic, but no less intriguing was the penultimate film on this shortlist, Piano And Soul, from
Thomas Mould. Inspired by the conversations he would have in his local pub with an aging, lonely man whilst he was still at university, Mould has created a grieving, angry man that seemingly has nothing to live for. At fifteen minutes, Mould’s movie doesn’t really have too much to say for itself but he nonetheless gets a great performance from Jeff Stewart, who plays Terry. Overall, the film may leave you a little cold, unable to engage with the characters as much as you may like.

Finally we come to the film that drew the most chuckles from the assembled audience. I’ll Be Here All Night is a nine-minute short from writer/director Andrew Parkhill, concerning itself with a pub singers’ both personal and professional problems which all seem to coalesce at the hands of a man who initally appears to be a force for good, at least when handling hecklers. Well-intentioned though he may be, however, it appears that he may just end up doing more harm than good. With some excellent performances and subtle attention to detail, this is was an absolute joy to see and the decision to keep the length of the project down to a minimum helped it achieve a good deal of the plaudits. In and out. Then off. An accomplished and simple piece of work that ended the programme on a suitable and deserved high.

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