SHORT FOCUS 2018: Somehow [Misa Nishihara, Japan, 2018] /// The Noise of the Light [Valentin Petit,

In the vast majority of feature length films, five minutes is far too long for a sex scene, let alone a sexual fantasy. However, Misa Nishihara’s animated short, coming in at just under five minutes, is anything but cringeworthy. The film depicts a line drawn lifeguard daydreaming about a former lover. It is Nishihara’s use of lines that really makes this short; the uniformly black lines intersect and interlock as sensual shapes morph and twist on the screen, giving the impression of a physical fluidity between people and objects. Here, Nishihara really makes the most of the animated form, as the permeability of shapes would not be so effective in a live action film. This sense of transperso

My Friend Victor [Kamil Iwanowicz, UK, 2018]

Firstly, some quick advice: if you're thinking of treating yourself to a cheeky fry-up after this short film, think again! Kamil Iwanowicz definitely pulls the wool over our eyes with his fifth short film, and easily proves that a small cast can either make or break a short fable such as this. With a very simple poster and unassuming tag line, the filmmaker keeps all the tricks he can up his sleeve or, in this case as we later find out, up… somewhere else! We first encounter Tommy, a young boy who, like so many young kids of this generation, is glued to a computer screen. The cinematography from the start and throughout the plot adds to the humorous peculiarities between characters. Tommy's

Pets [David Wunderlich, Germany, 2018]

This intriguing and, perhaps to some, bleak science-fiction short film opens up in a near future. The title refers to the human condition as it stands in this imagined future, where we are no longer governors of our own thought processes, choices and, most importantly, our own emotional constructions. We, of course, already live in a world where technology plays a major part in assisting us in our everyday lives, but it could be argued that we have grown so dependent on its uses to the point where it has taken much away from our physical and emotional identities. An early scene in the film signals us towards the protagonist’s own ideals, but he is quickly reminded that his daily life is alre

Beard Envy [John Tomkins, UK, 2018] /// Genesis [Michael Tekle, Germany, 2018]

How does one even attempt to view something like Beard Envy in a critical and analytical manner? How does one search for flaw or merit in a film that begins with a growling pirate menacing a young man in a museum? Beard Envy is a short film by director John Tomkins based on a poem by spoken word artist Robert Garnham. It’s worth a moment of pause to acknowledge this began as a poem of all things. Human endeavour truly knows no bounds. The film tells of a young man’s quest to conquer his envy of the magnificent beards surrounding his life and to grow his own perfect beard. It is incredibly hard to describe Beard Envy without describing each bizarre scene. Beard Envy is perhaps proof that a fi

Masha and Dasha: Two Hearts in One [Diana Taylor, UK, 2018] /// Icons [Ronnie Cramer, USA, 2018]

This touching and fascinating documentary examines the lives of Masha and Dasha Krivoshlyapova, a pair of conjoined twins growing up during the height of the Soviet Union. The film’s structure, which is based on an interview with British journalist Juliet Butler, a friend of the twins, interspersed with evocative black and white footage and photographs from Masha and Dasha’s lives, is a simple yet effective way of telling this story. A recurring element of said story is the cruel and inhuman treatment that Masha and Dasha were often subjected to by the people around them. Initially sold to a research laboratory after their mother was lied to by her doctors and told her children had died shor

Harp [Staffan Gnosspelius, UK, 2018]

It seems wrong to recommend Harp to anyone without advising them see it without any expectations, as I was fortunate enough to do. However, if there is anything to be said about this short, it is that it’s a visual experience unlike any other and a truly original piece of animation. Harp is an animated music video created by Staffan Gnosspelius on a single piece of paper wherein the artist animates through a series of changes. The talent alone that’s required to execute such a piece is praiseworthy, but the film is a poignant, moving and often hypnotic piece of animation in its own right. There is no clear narrative to speak of, and what we are faced with is a series of surreal dreamlike ima

A Peculiar Imagination [Jamie H. Scrutton, UK, 2018]

This intriguing animated short deals with themes familiar to us all, from birth to death and everything in between, situating the audience within the artist’s (Jamie H. Scrutton) considerations of his own mortality. The film thematically weaves us through his psyche and fantastical perception of the values of love and the aspects of re-birth and their impact, before we reach the inevitable final moment in our lives, demonstrated by using clever visual cues and motifs within a stop-motion animated framework. The central character in the film (credited only as "The Artist" and played by Scrutton), takes us on a well-constructed journey of his own visual thoughts as to where his mental psyche i

Caducea – The Man with the Bark Face [Christophe Mavroudis, Belgium, 2018]

Writer and director Christophe Mavroudis orchestrates a visually compelling and enticing story, illustrating pure excellence in respect to filmmaking and storytelling aspects in his film Caducea – The Man with the Bark Face. The short film manages to grip the audience with an interesting story from the very first frame; effectively introducing us using well-balanced expository narration through very distinguished, stylish images, foreshadowing the relationship between the main characters. This in turn not only introduces us to the main characters and their connection to each other, but also suggests a passing time frame, whilst offering snippets of information regarding the qualities present

Scarecrow [Lee Charlish, UK, 2018]

Sometimes, we find ourselves shaking, screaming, at that film on our screens, baffled how these characters are making those same mistakes that every single character makes in a horror movie, especially when a line such as this is thrown out there - has neither Natalie nor Thomas, our main protagonists in the film, ever seen any kind horror film where people ask for directions? In saying that, if it wasn't for our characters' ignorance, we would not have these wonderfully entertaining, hide behind our hands horror film narratives. With an overall budget of just £500, the seventh short film of writer/director Lee Charlish, Scarecrow provides a short punchy goody bag for horror film fans, reple

Expecting [Stacey Menchel Kussel, USA, 2018]

Expecting is an artful and revealing dance documentary that charts summarily the career of ballerina Michele Wiles (former principal dancer of the American Ballet Theatre) and her steps into motherhood, after consistently being told that ballerinas and pregnancy do not fit in the same context. Wiles is a top athlete and artist in her field, but like any other woman she faces the exhilaration and anxiety that comes along with the milestone of starting a family. Directed by Stacey Menchel Kussel the short film details how Wiles determinedly set out on her journey to directly combat those who challenged her ambitions to continue as a performer entering into this new maternal chapter. The short

Radio Moon [Pierre Gaffié, France, 2018] /// The Hangman [Margaret McGoldrick, UK, 2018]

Radio Moon is an engaging analysis of guilt and the pressures of uncertainty. Directed by Pierre Gaffié, the film explores the difficulties of making decisions when the outcomes are not entirely clear. The film follows Sybil, a late-night radio host who offers guidance and advice for her listeners. Sybil however, wants to split up with her boyfriend Luke but is struggling with the decision. It's not until she gets her next call from Michel that she begins to take action. Michel is a guilt-stricken package holiday salesman who feels responsible for the death of a woman who died on a holiday he recommended. The story moves Sybil profoundly. As the story progresses, both Sybil and her staff can

The House [Giulia Gandini, UK, 2017]

Three children speculate the authenticity of an age-old tale surrounding Fallbridge House, where for many years nobody has been seen to come or go. The house sits deep and deserted in a field of weeping willows that are coaxed into animation by an ominous wind. In the way that childhood fantasies allow, the house has grown to take on a mythical status, believed to be haunted, having eaten a young girl who it was claimed entered but never seen again. The two boys of the trio tease their friend Ophelia, insisting she isn’t brave or “man” enough to approach the house. Irritated and with a point to prove Ophelia wanders, albeit with trepidation, over to the house. Now rattled the boys are betray

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