Tutu & Pointes [Iria Pizania, UK, 2018] /// A Journey to Mother India [Cassie Goodluck-Johnson,

As a young child you are told to always 'dream big’. You are taught in school from a young age to have aspirations and to aim for greatness whilst being told countless times by teachers that the ‘sky is the limit’. It is drummed into you as a child that with hard work and perseverance your dreams can become a reality. But, in all honesty, things are not always that simple. It is fair to say not everyone has the same opportunities but, nonetheless, there are phenomenal people who defy the odds, continually breaking constructed societal barriers and opening up avenues for others from all walks of life. Iria Pizania’s Tutu & Pointes touches on these themes in her short film, in which she implem

Cherry Colour Buttonholes [Brenda Miller, UK, 2018]

Brenda Miller’s filmmaking style is experimental in a social rather than artistic sense. Artistry and craftsmanship are the ostensible preoccupations in her films, but the activities on display here, namely the hand-stitching of buttons, are used more as a vehicle to encourage social interactions. Cherry Colour Buttonholes is just as much a conversational meditation as it is an insight into artisanal practises. The women in the film are never actually identified. To do so would be beside the point. We do hear their voices as they discuss different materials, techniques and colours and their conversation weaves in and out of personal and creative subjects much like the fabrics with which they

SHORT FOCUS 2018: Takako vs. Nine Lives [Laura Wolkstein, USA, 2018]

When you hear the word “nutcracker” what do you think of? An enchanting ballet traditionally performed at Christmas or an excruciating, paternity-threatening wrestling move? While these definitions seem a million miles apart, Takako vs. Nine Lives combines the two opposing forms of dance and fighting in a mesmerising short film that celebrates the potential of the human body. Although the piece is wordless, body language speaks volumes as two masked lucha libre wrestlers battle it out for the entire ten minutes of the film. The combination of ballet and wrestling is both clever and amusing for a number of reasons. Firstly, mixing these two seemingly opposing forms slyly highlights their simi

Disruption [Anagha Komalankutty, India/UAE, 2018] /// Bubly: Cheers to Cheer [Rick Peters, USA, 2018

Director Anagha Komalankutty attempts to embody the destruction of creativity that is caused by disruption within her one-minute silent short film, Disruption. This is further emphasised by gender roles within the film, with patriarchal intrusions inflicted by actor Methil Komalankutty who takes control of the scene from actor Haniya Shamnad, thereby stifling her power and creativity. The short film opens with an overhead shot of Shamnad’s hand drawing lines on a sheet of paper, the image aided by encouraging and thought-provoking music suggestive of a kind of ‘underdog’ within the piece. Consequently, this gives the audience a sense that the character is just starting out, but has a bright

SHORT FOCUS 2018 - BEST SHORT: Pa'lante [Kristian Mercado, Puerto Rico/USA, 2018]

Hurricane Maria hit Dominica, the U. S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico in 2017, devastating the landscape and causing over three thousand deaths. In light of this terrible tragedy, Hurray for the Riff Raff’s song ‘Pa’lante’, meaning ‘onwards’ or ‘forwards’, is a cry for hope amongst despair. Kristan Mercado’s award-winning video accompanies the song and successfully unites personal and national crises with an emotional gut punch that is almost impossible to attain with headlines and statistics. As lead singer Alynda Segarra’s heartbreaking vocals ring out, we see the everyday tragedies and triumphs of separated parents Milagros (played by Mela Murder) and Manuel (Kareem Savinon) as they try

A White Paper Ship [Keisuke Sagiyama, Japan, 2014]

At first glance, the serene scenes of mountain lakes and the soothing sounds of rushing water in Keisuke Sagiyama’s A White Paper Ship seem like an advertisement for another mindfulness app. Don’t be fooled. As the short film unfolds, tranquillity is replaced with unease as a certain eeriness creeps into the slow, still shots. Deceptively clever and haunting in its mystery, this is not a film to drift off to. The rush of thousands of newspapers in a printing press acts as a kind of prelude to a series of scenes that take us from a mountain lake, through rivers and roads, to the sea. What stands out most in this film is its haunting sense of otherness. Things that should be normal – roads, bo

For Pepper [Rebecca Singleton, Ireland, 2018] /// Purgatorium [Kamil Iwanowicz, UK, 2018]

Explaining the concept of death to a child can be incredibly challenging, since we can never know how that child will react. They might be sad, confused or, as demonstrated in For Pepper, angry. A delightfully funny black comedy, For Pepper examines the concept of death and vengeance through the eyes a young girl. The short follows Anna, distraught and confused after learning that her pet budgie Pepper has died. As this is Anna’s first experience of mortal loss, her mother attempts to gently pacify Anna with divine reasoning, proposing that God has taken Pepper to heaven and is in a better place. Anna refuses to accept this rationale and she directs her anger towards God, becoming increasing

Goddess [Tiara Luten, USA, 2018] /// Lovesick [Andrew Hamblin, UK, 2018]

Imagine a world where a patriarchal society ceases to exist – a world in which femininity and the role of womanhood itself excel as superior essences of existence; a world where women flourish, dominate and thrive at the expense of men that tailor to their every need; a world where women quite literally ‘run the world’. Independent African-American filmmaker Tiara Luten’s Goddess pays ode to womanhood in this short film, and embarks upon an exploration and celebration of themes centred on femininity. The film opens with a powerful narrative, symbolic of strength, unity, homogeneity and sisterhood as Luten captivates the audience with attention-grabbing visuals of the mystical planet Xo, home

The Latent Image [Alexander Birrell, UK/Canada, 2018]

An atmospheric short film from British director Alexander Birrell, The Latent Image tells the story of Robert Walsh, a writer who has isolated himself in a cabin in the woods in order to concentrate on his latest novel, a horror thriller. When an injured and mysterious stranger stumbles into the cabin in the middle of the night, Robert’s reality starts looking a lot like his fiction. It is the kind of twisty-turny plot that can’t be described in too much detail lest it be spoiled. In particular, the film’s clever and ironic ending is a great example of a seemingly unimportant detail coming back into play just as the audience will have forgotten about it. The Latent Images wears its influence

SHORT FOCUS 2018: Close Enough [Mahdi Hosseingholi & Mojtaba Zarghampour, Iran, 2018] /// Wear Y

Confusion, fear, curiosity. These are some of the emotions directors Mahdi Hosseingholi and Mojtaba Zarghampour channel through their characters to represent society’s reactions to taboo subjects in Close Enough, gradually and increasingly exemplifying the idea that no matter how we feel about these taboo issues, and by showing each character’s lack of action towards the situation, we are all just bystanders. Close Enough uses the camera as a focal point that draws the attention of passers-by in a park. Hosseingholi and Zarghampour depict a range of characters, all with different reactions to a controversial object that we cannot see, and all seemingly disturbed by the object in various ways

Disintegrants [John Harlan Norris, USA, 2017 /// Going to the Mattresses [Mary Beth Reed, USA, 2018]

As myriad abstract shapes and floating objects move at a reassuring pace across the screen, the mind instantly throws up memories of early Windows screensavers. But despite this seeming slight, the effect is one of relaxation and self-reflection. John Harlan Norris’ experimental short film Disintegrants offers up a variation of portraiture, which comes without a human subject. Across a slowly changing pastel coloured background, rectangular shapes pass with an occasional pair of sunglasses, a cherry, straws or a piece of cloth. Rendered in 3D, Disintegrants is a true fine-art piece. There is no story, the camera does not move and there is no soundtrack. In fact, it is a piece that would be b

Constance (A Symphony of Kisses) [Pierre Gaffié, France, 2017] /// Finding Shakespeare [Margaret McG

Constance (A Symphony of Kisses) offers a charming account of one woman’s strategic pursuit of an end to loneliness. Its central premise is full of whimsy, and the addition of an omniscient narrator further enhances the story’s fairytale feel. It is a witty and inventive piece of short film cinema that seeks to make light of the heartbreaking loneliness of the quest to find love, when those around you seem to have already found theirs. The piece handles its serious subject matter with a lightness and jest that throws up more than a little allusion to one of France’s most famous cinematic exports, Amelie (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, France, 2001). Upon receiving news that yet another of her friends h

Back Up My Memories (Selene Citro & Luna Lunardi, Italy, 2018)

Part speculative fiction and part introspective look at memory, Back Up My Memories is an interesting short film from directing duo Selene Citro and Luna Lunardi that uses a combination of evocative imagery and an unnerving soundtrack to present the process of a human brain being cryogenically frozen, and of the memories of a life it contains being extracted and preserved. The short film examines themes of life, death and the role memory plays in both of these universal human experiences. Cryopreservation often represents a search for immortality in science fiction. Indeed, technology leading to immortality has been a staple of the genre since Mary Shelley gave us Frankenstein (1818). Althou

Night Out in Killashandra [Lina Jalala, Ireland, 2018]

Night Out in Killashandra is a whip-smart take on the modern world of dating and the ways in which young people meet (or, in this case, don't meet) in the tech-savvy and social media obsessed Information Age. The film invites us to join three young women on a night out (in Killashandra obvs!), huddled around a smartphone and ‘swiping’ their way through a dating app and weighing up their options. The camera swipes right to a group of three potential male suiters who are responding to the girls via the same app. Perhaps, this could be the fortuitous spark of a modern romance… The dialogue is well written and the set-up is smart in the way it plays upon gender ‘norms’ and the typical courting s

Waves Over Sand [Mark Nugent, UK, 2017] /// Echo [Ron Graves, UK, 2018]

Watching someone lose their memory is one of life’s most difficult and profound experiences, especially when the inflicted begins to forget you, and an even harder challenge to get them to remember you. Writer and director Mark Nugent explores the struggle of reconnecting with loved ones suffering from dementia in Waves Over Sand. The short film follows Rachel, a talented photographer who has recently broken up with her partner. While waiting for her to collect her belongings, Rachel goes to visit her dementia-stricken father. As she goes to visit him, she encounters her sister, Sarah, who holds a grudge against Rachel for abandoning them at such a crucial time in their lives. Rachel attempt

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