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Monday, February 03, 2014

What makes a BAFTA nominated short? (2014 edition)

Yes, it is that time of year again when I outline the BAFTA nominated short films and once again moan about the cliche of the British short film - all grim and dour.

But not this year! This is the best collection of short films in many many years. I'll sum them up thusly; these are proper, entertaining shorts that span many genres. A pleasure to watch, not a chore. Fun, not worthy.

The reason I outline the shorts here on the blog is because many up and coming film makers don't always get a chance to see them and hence don't know what the level of competition is. Here are the films in details - in alphabetical order. Check them out yourself if you can - NO SPOILERS BELOW.

Island Queen
Directed by Ban Mallaby - Written by Nat Luurtsema (who also stars)
A girl who lives on a small island and has never left decides she wants a baby and visits the 'sperm bank'. But who is the father?
A wise cracking, zippy script that is about the characters even though the plot keeps your hooked. To me this felt like a real showcase for comedy-drama talent.

Keeping up with the Joneses
Directed by Michael Pearce - Written by Selina Lim
Two gangsters are out of revenge but instead end up lumbered with the wife of the crooked MP they seek. Finally she reveals that her husband is probably with the mistress - and she is forced to accompany them on their trip of vengeance.
I liked the duality of this film. Violent, almost slapstick, one minute - very delicate on the characters the next.

Orbit Ever After
Directed and Written by Jamie Magnus Stone
A sci-fi romance! Young Nigel picks up the space junk surrounding his families rag tag space capsule that they call home. Everyday he sees a girl in her capsule going the other way. But how can they ever meet?
You have to admire the sheer balls to make this, big sets, periods of zero gravity, carefully matching the lighting to the spinning earth below, amazing. And just like the perfect short film, a story that really should be no longer nor shorter.

Room 8
Directed and Written by James W Griffiths
A prisoner finds a model of his cell. But it is more than just a model, it is in fact his cell.
This is what Inception would be if it was a short film. It plays with a 'TARDIS' style visual effect in a very punchy way. Very pure, one idea, one location and great effects.

Sea View
Directed and Written by Jane Linfoot
A teenage girl meets up with an older man for an overnight stay in a hotel room. But what is their relationship as they both see it?
Perhaps the most 'standard' of the shorts in that it sticks closely to the British short film tradition - but good acting none the less. And in fact, due to the good range of genres above, this drama short has room to breathe.

Conclusions and trends:
Post production is very glossy and expensive this year, but a good story is still way more important. Acting in all the shorts was excellent. What is interesting is that some of these shorts felt like they were looking to be made into features really, whilst others were the opposite, almost a sketch. Again, I feel that is healthy to have that range. Certainly I am lifted by the quality of these short films and hope that shorts are back as viable entertainment pieces.

Normally I don't look forward to a BFI funded short film is I am honest. This year, I have been forced to change my mind.

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