The final film to screen in a programme of outstanding short films at Short Focus 2018, One Night faced some fierce competition, to say the least. A near zero-budget student project, this ingenious slice-of-life comedy is a testament to the power of imagination and teamwork and proved a deserving winner of the festival’s Special Jury Prize.
Shot brilliantly in one unbroken take, the camera follows one group of characters to the next as they discuss everything from extortionate public transportation prices in London – an anecdote hilariously conveyed by Ethan Holden – to more philosophical matters, the two central characters pondering over the transient nature of love (whilst sharing a cigarette in the freezing cold no less).
The tag-team ensemble approach to the film is an inspired one, and takes cues from films such as Slacker [Richard Linklater, US, 1991], Twenty Bucks [Keva Rosenfeld, US, 1993] or Thirteen Conversations About One Thing [Jill Sprecher, US, 2001], adding a sprinkle of Woody Allen’s more restrained instances of verbal humour for good measure. It is not an easy feat to pull off, but here the action and dialogue is choreographed with great care and attention to detail, capturing perfectly the atmosphere of the quintessential British student house party – the movie nerds debating the merits and failures of Oscar-nominated screenplays; the misinterpretation of an innocuous joke by a politically headstrong interloper; the mysteriously locked bathroom occupied for any number of inauspicious reasons.
The film’s plot essentially builds toward the spark of a romance between “main” characters Nicky and Charlie (feline obstacles notwithstanding!), but the film is ultimately more concerned with the trivial minutiae of everyday life, jumping randomly into the midst of the night’s proceedings and exiting just as abruptly, keeping the evening’s more extraordinary events tantalisingly out of sight.
'One Night' was part of the Official Selection and winner of the Jury Prize at Short Focus Film Festival 2018.