Today (11th) marks the start of the Greenhill Short Film Festival and to we here at Rumseys have sat down with a selection of the short films that will shown at the event in order to give you just a taste of what you have in store. The programme consists of five different themed days which run under the titles of I Am What I Am, The Selection, Strange World, It Came From Japan and Laughter Live (more info here). We thought it made sense to review a short from each day of the programme and present our collected thoughts here for you. So, without further ado, here are our reviews of just some of the shorts available at the Greenhorn Festival this year…
I Am What I Am: The Face of Ukraine: Casting Oksana Baiul
In this documentary short by Kitty Green a number of young teens audition to play the part of Oksana Baiul, the Ukrainian Olympic figure skater “whose tears of joy once united their troubled country”. Over seven minutes, then, we get footage of several of the young hopefuls’ auditions, their brief self-descriptions, mostly awkward line readings, and tears on being presented with flowers. I hope I don’t come off square putting it this way, but…so? It seemed to me the film was less a documentary short and more a compilation of casting reels, which is fine, if you’re a casting agent or a director, but it seemed to me that some context, both historically and for the personal lives of the would-be teen stars, would go some way towards providing the missing human interest.
The Selection: RinGtone
Nostalgia for the late-90s/early 00s has officially arrived, and about time too. For those roughly my age – I believe we’re called “millennials” – this should be a rush of warm nostalgia for the era of Deep Blue Sea, “Teenage Dirtbag”, and the Nokia 3210. When Tony (Jack McMahon) makes the simultaneous discoveries of the 3210 and his own talent using its innovative ringtone programming ability, his life is changed. Soon enough he’s riding high on money, power and girls, delivering the requested S Club 7 and Basement Jaxx tones for entire schools, at times. Andy Hui’s short film is funny, relatively unique, and sufficiently on-point in its period details – £3.60 minimum wage! – to overcome its fairly uninvolved acting.
Strange World: Getting Fat in a Healthy Way
This piece of intentional weirdness from Bulgarian Kevork Aslanyan presents a world in which gravity is askew due to an incident in which American astronauts accidentally blew a chunk out of the moon about a quarter of its size. This means that skinny people, like our hero Constantine (Ovanes Torosian), are confined to their artificial-gravity-having flats lest they drift away, and must look on wistfully at those gorgeous plump birds who can make it outside. While it fails as science fiction – that couldn’t happen, wouldn’t lead to that, and that wouldn’t lead to that – it works OK as fantasy, even as it leans altogether too heavily on some rather familiar short-film tropes: quirky people speaking little in claustrophobic interiors while outlandish fantasy waits just outside the windows.
It Came From Japan: Tsunami
This animated short, despite its inclusion in the It Came From Japan programme of shorts, comes from Denmark. Directed by Sofie Kampmark, the dialogue-free animation presents a mildly fantastic vision of post-tsunami Japan, with a single older man nursing a fish-god-out-of-water back to health. Slight but sweet, Tsunami’s seven minutes never drag.
Laughter Live: ManOMan
This rod-puppet animation by Simon Cartwright presents a paranoid take on the dangers of primal scream therapy – Glen, at first, can barely make a sound, but when he is bullied into taking part by a particularly aggressive fellow-patient, he lets out his Mr. Hyde-like id, a tiny man with wild hair and beard, romping around naked fighting and fucking. But there are, of course, consequences to living without boundaries, and in eleven minutes the short provides bizarre chills and bizarrer laughs.
Greenhorn Short Film Festival runs from today (11th) through to the 15th. You can find out all you need to know about it by clicking right here!