BAFTA is truly an organisation devoted to the wonder that is British film. However, in the flashbulb-smattered race to Leading Actor and Actresses, Best Director and Film many overlook the Best Short Film and Best Short Animation categories.
It is the dream of any filmmaker to walk that red carpet at an awards ceremony and be recognised for their hard work and expertise. For the younger generation film is more accessible than ever; film festivals are embracing shorts filmed and edited on mobile phones. Length doesn’t seem to be an issue and ultimately everyone who wants to will strive to make that film they are proud of.
This year’s generation of short films is, as always, split into British Short Animation and British Short Film. Each year there are a plethora of interesting and original shorts and this year is no expectation. Initial thoughts – wow.
In this selection of films we have a deeply emotive tale of a young boy forced into religion, a call operator assisting a woman trying to save her son from a fire and a stop motion animation full of love brought to life with intricate detail.
Each of these films has something unique of offer, albeit at first glance Caroline Barleet’s ostensibly simple tale of a 999 operator aptly named Operator immediately tugs on deep emotions. Managing to land herself Game of Thrones actress Kate Dickie and This is England’s Vick McClure though a crowdfunding campaign, it seems BAFTA was certainly the cherry on the cake to her festival circuit.
Dickie brings a fantastic performance to this tense short as the calm and collective operator, whilst McClure brings the perfect amount of panic to her mother in distress. Close-up angles is all this film has and Dickie carries this to the bitter end. An end that is in itself heart-breaking as we see her compose herself and go onto the next caller like nothing ever happened.
An emotional film all the same, yet a very different one is Billy Lumey’s Samuel-163. Starting off a grainy piece of a stereotypical Hasidic Jewish Family with a son desperately wanting to break out of family traditions. In very Sacha Baron Cohen way, our lead protagonist rebels; cutting off his curls, taking his prayer shawl off and branching into normal civilisation.
Tackling a complete culture clash and identity crisis, this short enjoys the narrative turns and provides us with some very compelling scenes that are hard to watch. What makes this so interesting is that the cast consists of non-professional actors, making this all the more hard hitting.
Up next are two very different films; JornThrelgall’s Over and Callum Ruce’s Mining Poems and Odes. Poetry and spoken word have always played a big part in the arts and perhaps now more than ever. Everything is so accessible and more people have a voice, that if you want to write and share it to the world you can with the click of a button.
Mining Poems and Odes take a look at ex-shipyard worker Robert and his choice to put down his tools and take pen to paper, expressing his deepest thought and feelings. Writing everything down and translating his time working on the yard has allowed him the escape he needed. Interestingly, Threlgall’s Over is told backwards, through 9 wide shoots of a scene investigation in a once peaceful and quiet community. Collating evidence and seeing it for what is really is produces something quiet unexpected. Those who have just binged on Netflix’s Making a Murderer will find this one rather intriguing.
The group of animations selected this year are nothing other than an example of sheer talent. Using virtually every form, stop-motion, CGI and hand draw illustrations the 3 finalists; Edmond, Prologue and Manoman are a joy to behold.
Richard Williams lends his artistry to Prologue, bringing us a tale of war, death and innocence. A beautifully illustrated and emotional work or art, Prologue is journey that consumes you and in turn allows you to relate to this poor little girl that is witnessing this battle.
Next up is Simon Cartwright’s Manoman, a tale of a man trying to find his masculinity. Attending a support group to channel his inner primal being; Primal scream therapy, this is both bizarre and beautiful appreciation of puppetry. Perhaps a second viewing would benefit this one.
Last but not least is the intricately created Edmond. Delivered by the National Film and Television school, this is British humour at its best, not to mention how skilled the stop-motion animation is. Perhaps having a too strong a version of love this is a tale of one man and his desires. Not forgetting the dogs, of course.
A strong selections of films and one can only hope they keep getting better and better. Here’s to the next BAFTAs.
BAFTA Short Film Winner: Operator
BAFTA Short Animation Winner: Edmond
The BAFTA-Nominated Shorts will screen in selected cinemas across the UK from the end of February