Rose [Edwin Miles, UK, 2018]

Rose is unlike the vast majority of short films that reach the festival screens. It does not have a particular plot, it is not heavily styli

Cadair Y Fampir [Liam A. Matthews, UK, 2018]

Since Twilight’s [Catherine Hardwicke, USA, 2008] pasty heartthrob, vampires have been synonymous with sexuality. It comes as little surprise then, that Liam A. Matthews and his team chose this particular ghoul to explore erotic themes in this short Welsh horror. As with most scary films, this short is all about nice people making stupid decisions. If a mysterious figure suddenly appears in the woods, it’s probably not the wisest thing to follow her unquestioningly. Nor is it pure genius to willingly enter a house well known for death and decay. Oh, and never ever go down into the basement. Cadair Y Fampir’s reliance on these worn out tropes dampens what could have been a fresh look at our f

Collision [Jonell Rowe, UK, 2018]

Driving tests and the breakneck advance of invasive technologies are two very reasonable things to feel anxious about. Combine the two and it’s more of a nightmare than reverse bay parking in a Halfords car park. Collision is the story of a malignant satnav out to settle past debts. Facing issues of justice and artificial intelligence, it is a disturbing warning against both technology and dangerous driving. The hypothetical ethical issues of artificial intelligence have been widely explored in contemporary culture, with Black Mirror [Charlie Brooker, UK, 2011- ] being the most obvious example. This means that Collision has a lot of fierce competition. While the ending was well done, with th

I Miss the War [Andrew Walsh, Australia, 2018]

Family reunions are not always joyous occasions. Throw in your dead mother’s ashes, an unexpected husband and a broken down fridge, and things just go from bad to worse. I Miss the War shows three sisters meeting up nine years after their mother’s death, and predictable tensions ensue as the awkwardness unfolds. If this film aims to capture the excruciating atmosphere of horrendous family dinners, it certainly succeeds. Surprise step-brother Adrian, played by James Barr, is wonderfully irritating as the patronising Gap Yah guru, and Charlotte makes for a suitable frosty sister. Nonetheless, a dull script and unconvincing acting isolate these triumphant moments. It is difficult to muster much

Collector’s Protocol [Fay Beck, UK, 2018]

Collector’s Protocol is set in a dystopian world where the wealthy one per cent live in a protected city, while the remaining ninety-nine per cent are categorised into labour, organisation or, most disturbingly, food. Victims of the cannibalistic collectors are branded as ‘delicates’ and live under the constant threat of having their heart torn out by a brutal machine. The storyline follows Daniel Spence, a delicate who seems to have escaped to an underground bunker. Armed only with a camera and several cans of beans, he records his training to join the IPE, a group of courageous rebels who fight against their oppressors. If this all sounds a bit complicated to be squeezed into twelve minute

anexperimentalviralvlog - the movie remix # ! [Vasco Diogo, Portugal, 2016]

Vasco Diogo’s experimental compilation of vlogs pertains to be an exploration of audiovisual language, self-representation, manipulation and communication. In twelve minutes we see him in a variety of positions and backgrounds, from a choir of monastic mumbling to a blurred face slowly pulled from the screen. While some of these images work well to convey his main ideas, the film falls flat in its prioritising of style over substance. The opening image of a mirrored fraction of his face, a disquieting kaleidoscope of flesh, is particularly arresting. Another highlight is his direct address to the viewer, urging us that he is talking directly and only to us. His piercing stare into the camera

Lemons [Simon Werdmüller von Elgg, USA, 2018]

The word ‘lemons’ is one letter away from ‘demons’, as the clever artwork for this film reminds us. When Edwin, a missionary from Knoxville, is invited into the home of a strange older woman, past trauma bleeds into the house as both characters confront their own elusive pain. As the characters talk, uneasiness gradually builds up until Edwin discovers boxes of drawings abandoned in the attic. After he confronts Deborah, it becomes clear that there is a deep connection between them that stretches back to Edwin’s childhood, although what this might be remains unknown. The obscurity of the pain that dominates this short is surely part of its intended effect, as the characters are clearly tryin

SHORT FOCUS 2019: The Ride [Kacper Anuszweski, Poland, 2017]

It’s late, it’s cold and the bar has closed. You’re standing alone in an empty street when a car pulls up, winds down the window and a stranger says your name. Your Uber has arrived. While many people can probably relate to the slight feeling of unease when stepping into an unknown person’s car, we probably rarely think about the driver. Yet we too are strangers and could be just as threatening to them as they sometimes are to us. The Ride highlights this mutual vulnerability in a surprising story of revenge and responsibility. What makes this film interesting is the way it jolts from one genre into another. It begins as a muted slice-of-life affair with a bleak colour palette of gentle grey

Tomorrow [Guvernor Sanchez, Ireland, 2018]

Photography has long been a favourite subject of filmmakers. From Hitchcock’s iconic Rear Window [USA, 1954] to the modern classic City of God [Fernando Meirelles & Kátia Lund, 2002, USA] cameras have featured heavily in cinematic history. Tomorrow is a worthy addition to this tradition. Following two photographers on a trip through rural Ireland, Guvernor Sanchez’s (the directorial duo of Eoin McGovern and Mark McAuley) film provides a delicate look at the complex relationships in the lives of Simon and Scott. Although focusing on two incredibly complex characters could risk overpopulating a short film, Tomorrow pulls it off. Some could argue that it risks skimming important subjects such a

Knitting and Walking [Brenda Miller, UK, 2018]

Sometimes there are works of art that just do exactly what it says on the tin. If I told you, without you seeing it, that there was a short film called Knitting and Walking, you’d be hard-pressed to misjudge the film's premise. There is an interesting rationale to the chosen subject – a kind of therapeutic, multi-tasking flaneurism that attempts to address, through sightseeing and handcrafts, a kind of love for and interest in the city. The film’s locations are never explicitly labelled but through the process of walking and knitting one begins to get a sense of the place that you're in. It is shot from the filmmaker’s perspective in GoPro style and in this way gives the experience an immers

Khayam Khooni [Ali Nifkar, Iran, 2017] /// Moroccan Blue [Richard Paske, USA, 2018]

Winner of Rosarito International Film Festival’s best music video award and recipient of an Official Selection at Los Angeles Cinefest 2017, Khayam Khooni shows a group performance of a Khayyamkhani, a traditional Bushehr Iranian song. Text at the opening of the film informs us that Khayyamkhani “consists of symmetrical periods, which, in terms of metro rhythm, is consistent with poetic meter”. Director, Ali Nifkar’s filming is highly naturalistic, seeking to honour the tradition of the Hamnava ensemble’s performance techniques. Performers, friends and family members sit as one, cross-legged on the floor around a fire, as the performance of the song begins. The Hamnava Ensemble’s performance

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