Thursday, 13 October 2016

Show Me Shorts Film festival 2016 review

Show Me Shorts Film festival 2016 review

The Show Me Shorts Film Festival is now on and with it, a sign once again that short film-making is in very rude health.

The team's spent six months sifting through 1500 entries from 60 countries, an increase of 50%, and now with a clutch of world premieres, the festival's been spewed out into the public domain to be gorged upon (the reason for that choice of wording will become clearer...)

And with the opening in Auckland gifting out the winners with accolades, there's no sign that this festival is going to slow any time soon, which is great.

As Flicks points out  the big winner on the night was an animated 5 minute short, called Spring Jam.
This is a joyous and comic ode to a stag in mating season finding his feet and his amorous edge in the annual rutting competition that is mating season.

With ACME levels and Looney Tunes edges of lunacy, as well as packed full of vibrant inventiveness in its very short run time, this riff on the senses is fun, frivolous and utterly charming, guaranteeing you to be grinning from beginning to end.
It's a rightful winner of the top award, and a sign that NZ animation doesn't just have to be of a fantastical nature. Based on this Ned Wenlock's got a great future ahead, and with the validation of the top award, it's a sign that animation here is once again world-class.

Going about as far as you can from the happy bright spring rituals, Schmeat's darker almost Grimm Fairy Tale edges are as much a dichotomy of Burton-eseque edges as you'd expect.

Opening on a skull with some kind of huhu grub crawling out, this animated vision of a dystopian NZ where meat is scarce has a nutty scientist and a poem as its guide.
There are horror overtones present in this and they're welcome, but the fact it's animated means it never goes over the edge, and if anything  Matasila Freshwater's ideas are more worthy of a Horrible History than an outright scare. It's reminiscent of Frankenweenie crossed with a deliciously dark tone, and it's a welcome watch.
More Gru from Despicable Me than outright gruesome, the scientist's adorable edges are offset only by spiky teeth - and the story's got a spike to it as well which is welcome.

One of the spikier and more timely stories in the programme is Home, one of the NZ premieres.
Written by BAFTA winning director Daniel Mulloy, this sly subversion of the refugee crisis is as prescient as it is frightening.

Jack O'Connell and Holliday Grainger bundle up their two kids and look to be heading on a family holiday but there are shocks ahead as this uncertainty of hope plays out.
As frailties of trust play out and the purpose of the story becomes clearer, it's obvious why Home is such a hot potato of a film - and with the subtlest of movements on Jack O'Connell's face protraying and betraying so much, the power of Home hits you long after it's ended. And as you dwell on it, it may make you nauseous.

Certainly guaranteed to make you nauseous is the puke-fest that is Shout At the Ground.
If ever a short film packed as much puking in as one scene did in Stand By Me, it's yet to cross my eyes.
A band reflect on a weekend that saw them robbed of their takings - and as the winding road to resolution plays out both literally and figuratively, there's plenty of blowing chunks.

Comedic and ribbed with escalating chaos, this comedy in a Kombi may test your own resolve and stomach lining, but Joe Leonie certainly has fired something different together. Subtlety is not its forte, but some nice reflective character moments and a pacy twist pack a punch give it an edge to stand out in the festival.

Leading proceedings in Shout At The Ground and Break In The Weather is actress Aidee Walker, who appears to be one of the 2016 MVPs.
Break In The Weather

A complete story of regret, coping and caring, Break In The Weather sees an estranged daughter Jamie forced back to care for her father (Peter Elliott) after a stroke.

Forced together, reflections on the past and also present conditions add much emotional weight to proceedings and give Break In The Weather a mournful power that's hard to deny.
Tensions and reflections are subtly underplayed, and Walker who wrote and directed this piece displays a great eye for not only embracing the full current context of a short but also manages to pack in plenty of backstory to give the feud and rift some real emotional heft, depth and context.

All in all, The Show Me Shorts festival is clearly on the up, and given numbers of submissions have vastly increased, it shows no sign of dying.

With international talent emerging at all quarters, and Kiwi film-makers holding their own and even beating them at their own game, there's no better time to embrace the festival and dive in - because based on this smattering from the smorgasbord from the short form cinema, there's more than enough to satiate any appetite.

Get the Show Me Shorts programme and festival info here.

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