On the evening of Sunday, the 2nd of December the British Independent Film Awards takes place. It is the perfect way to end another fine year for the British film industry. We will be there on the evening, for our favourite event of the year, to bring you red carpet interviews from the nominees and winners. It has always been part of our remit on HeyUGuys to celebrate the best and brightest voices in the cinema of our country. The BIFAs are therefore a highlight of our year, and is often the best indicator of our collective cinematic achievement.
The Craft Award Winners were revealed just this morning (click here for the full list of winners) with Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite leading the way, as it does with the nominations for the Film Awards.
With just over two weeks to go until the awards ceremony in Old Billingsgate we turn our attention to the art of cinematic brevity. Last year we introduced you to the films and filmmakers would were up for the Best British Short category, and this year we are proud to do the same.
2018 BIFA Best British Short Film Nominee Trailer
Working with the fine people at BIFA we have a full run down of the Best British Short Film with profiles of, and commentary from, the filmmakers themselves.
If you want to see the full list of BIFA nominations click here,
Here’s the full breakdown of the nomination shorts, including trailers, filmmakers’ and voters’ comments.
- Writ/dir.: Fateme Ahmadi
- Prod: Emma Parsons
Film Description from FA Films:
Bitter Sea is a short film by writer-director Fateme Ahmadi (Berlinale Talent 2017) and produced by Emma Parsons (Touching The Void, Captive), starring ADA Condeescu (If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle, LoverBoy, EU Shooting Star 2013). Bitter Sea was selected by Film London as part of their competitive London Calling Plus Scheme out of more than 100 projects. It was commissioned by Film London and awarded production funding in association with the BFI Net.Work and Creative Skillset.
The story is about a Romanian single mother has recently escaped from an abusive husband and fled to London to build a better future for her daughter. She’s found a job and place to live, but the landlord has a strict “no children allowed” policy. Trapped in an impossible situation, she has to find a way to hide her daughter being in the flat.
BITTER SEA – trailer from Fateme Ahmadi on Vimeo.
Fateme Ahmadi Profile from Sayle Screen
Fateme Ahmadi is a writer-director based between London and Tehran. Her graduation film from the London Film School, One Thousand and One Teardrops, was shortlisted in more than 50 festivals all around the world with several nominations and awards.
Fateme is the writer and the co-director of Chandra, supervised by Naomi Kawase, produced by Youku (Chinese Biggest Video Sharing Website) and the Asian Film Academy (AFA), premiered at International Busan Film Festival. It has since screened in Palm Springs Short Fest, Sao Paulo, Cork, Molodist, Flickers’ Rhode Island, London Short Film Festival and Locarno. Fateme is an alumna of Berlinale Talents 2017 and her latest short film Bitter Sea is a fiction commissioned by Film London, London Calling Plus, premiered at the London Short Film Festival and Oscar-qualifying Short Shorts, in Japan. Fateme just finished Leila’s Blues, a short set in Tunisia as a part of Tunisia Factory which was premiered in Directors’ Fortnight – Cannes in May 2018.
Fateme is currently writing her first feature script as well as working as the associate producer on a feature documentary titled Coup 53 directed by Taghi Amirani and edited by legendary Walter Murch.
Fateme Ahmadi on Bitter Sea
The plight of refugees is currently one of the world’s biggest crisis since the Second World War, and women and children are more vulnerable to the aggressive and cold conditions of host societies. Their stories have not been told much. Bitter Sea is inspired by the people I met and knew in person. It is a quiet and restrained film which follows the story of two migrants, a woman, and a child, who have left their hometown to live in London, a better and safer place. Maria, the protagonist, knows she has no chance to get a job if she tells the truth to her boss\landlord about having to take care of her daughter when “No Children Allowed” was a stipulation to their rental agreement. The film was about being in an impossible situation, about the difficult choices one has to make in circumstances where being rational is not always the best decision.
A really engrossing, vital film, it’s brilliant. the performances were excellent, it was well written, avoided cliche and wasn’t patronising to the protagonist. A superb effort.
It’s heartfelt, compelling and very rich for a 15-minute short.
- Writ/dir. Paris Zarcilla
- Prod: Ivan Kevala
- Prod: Sebastian Brown
Film Description from Refinery Media:
Set within the world of competitive gymnastics, Pommel is a coming-of-age drama about the tumultuous relationship between two young brothers as they compete for recognition and approval in an upcoming gymnastics competition.
Refinery Media was a co-producer in this award-winning film, written and directed by Paris Zarcilla. Starring Micheal Tang, William Tang, Orion Lee, and Ian Reddington.
Pommel was the 2018 winner for Best UK Short at the East End Film Festival, and the Special Jury Prize Winner at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival 2018. The film has also been nominated in Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia, Norwich Film Festival and Motovun XXI Film Festival 2018.
Pommel – Trailer from Paris Zarcilla on Vimeo.
Paris Zarcilla on Pommel
Gymnastics and ballet was a big part of my life growing up and as a filmmaker it was a natural place for me to explore.
Pommel is partly inspired by the tumultuous relationship I had with my older brother as we tried to balance the pressures of gym, school and home life.
Making Pommel was a very challenging process from start to finish. It almost didn’t get made. The biggest challenge was trying to maintain the films authenticity and casting two young east Asian boys highly skilled in gymnastics who could also pull off nuanced performances on screen. Finding the boys was an 18 month journey and there were only three in the entire country that fit the call.
I think this is great – it captures its world very well, tells an involving and absorbing story and builds to a climax that had me on the edge of My seat
An exceptional piece of filmmaking. Really tight editing, beautiful camera work, practically flawless.
The Big Day
- Writ.: Kellie Smith
- Dir.: Dawn Shadforth
- Prod: Michelle Stein
Film Description from British Council Film
Jess is super excited to attend her step-sister’s wedding and truly become part of the family, but after only recently finding out about her existence, her stepfamily are less than delighted about her presence on the big day.
Official Selection SXSW Film Festival 2018 – Narrative Shorts Competition – World premiere.
Dawn Shadforth Profile from BAFTA Elevate programme:
Dawn Shadforth’s directorial career began with documentaries for Channel 4, including Tales of Battered Britain: The Friends’ Tale (1995) and The Seven Year Glitch (1996), a short film documenting the Warp Records seven year anniversary tour.
Shadforth made her directing breakthrough in 2001 with the video for Kylie Minogue’s Can’t Get You Out of My Head. Since then, she has worked with a diverse group of artists, including Bjork, Florence & The Machine, Metronomy, Goldfrapp and The Moonlandingz. Her work has earned her a string of awards, most recently the Outstanding Achievement Award For Staying Relevant at the 2015 1.4 Awards for her latest video for synthpop duo, Hurts.
Outside of music video directing, Shadforth made silent short film Ding Dong for Sky Arts, starring Mackenzie Crook, in 2009 and The Big Day, a short film written by Kellie Smith for Creative England’s iWrite scheme in 2016.
In 2017, Shadforth directed a block of episodes of Trust, executive produced by Danny Boyle and starring Donald Sutherland and Hilary Swank
Shadforth continues to be passionate about music videos as an art form, recently joining a BFI advisory panel on preserving music videos for the first time in the National Film Archive. A retrospective of her music videos will be showcased as part of the London Short Film Festival in 2018.
Kellie Smith Profile from Berlin Associates:
Kellie Smith was shortlisted for the 2015 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting with her play JONESTOWN and is currently the Royal Exchange’s 2016 Pearson Playwright- in – Residence. Previously produced work includes BLACK GOLD (Royal Exchange, Studio) , THE SUM OF PARTS (Liverpool Everyman), BLACKOUT (The Dukes). Her work for young people includes I (Liverpool Everyman), ‘DOG EAT DOG (Collective Encounters, tour) and in 2017 she wrote THE MONSTRUM for NT Connections. Her play for children THE LOST THINGS won Theatre Centre’s Skylines showcase. Kellie has also written radio plays THE ARCHIVIST, CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT YOU and HOMEOWNERS (BBC Radio 4). Recently, her short film BIG DAY (Escape Films), which she developed as part of Creative England’s iWrite partnership, was selected for SXSW 2018.
Kellie Smith on The Big Day
For me the stories that appeal are all about the tragedy of what we miss or don’t see in other people and the way that relationships often misfire because of this. I come from a theatre background but what I love about film is its ability to capture the detail of these small tragedies – the poetry of it – and the drama that inevitably builds with their accumulation.
Michelle Stein on The Big Day
The Big Day was developed as part of Creative England’s iWrite scheme and CE brought me onboard to help select the scripts that would be funded and then produce them. Kellie’s script stood out because it was clear Kellie had so much empathy for her main character – it is an honest, bittersweet story filled with emotion and the characters handle the situation in a classic repressed British way. Dawn had a real passion for the script wanted to concentrate on the honesty of the performances, which I think she brought out really well. They were both an utter delight to work with
A really beautifully made film. Tender, heartbreaking, just a really excellent piece of filmmaking. And shot on 16!
An equally heartwarming and heartbreaking film with a fantastic central performance and equally strong supporting characters. It reminds me of the work of Deborah Haywood and I’m excited to see what this creative team do next.
Beautifully observed and ultimately very touching.
- Writer/Director: Sandhya Suri
- Producer: Balthazar de Ganay
- Prod: Thomas Bidegain
Film Description from Film London
A poor agricultural labourer leads a double life in the village’s last remaining cornfield. But the harvest is approaching
Sandhya Suri Profile from Troika
Sandhya Suri is a British-Indian writer/director based in London. A graduate in pure mathematics, she received a scholarship to study documentary at The National Film and Television School. Her feature documentary I FOR INDIA premiered in the World Competition section of the Sundance Film Festival, screened at over 20 international festivals and garnered several awards before being released theatrically to critical acclaim in the UK and the U.S. In 2016 she was selected for both the Sundance Screenwriters’ and Directors’ Lab with her first fiction feature SANTOSH, which Inflammable Films have come on board to produce and which the BFI are funding further development of. She’s currently writing an episode of Riz Ahmed’s series ENGLISTAN for the BBC and her she recently completed her first fiction short THE FIELD, which was produced by Thomes Bidegain and Balthazar de Ganay and which recently won Best International Short Film at TIFF.
Sandhya Suri on The Field
For me this film is a political one precisely because it is so personal. I think there is an expectation when we see a film about a poor uneducated woman in India that it is has to say something socially about the condition of women in that country but for me cinema is about direct personal connection, about universality and commonalities of the human experience. It’s about the great emotions which drive us all and I hope my film succeeds as an ode to that.
Everything here worked for me. lovely acting from the main character, lovely cinematography and production design.
Stunning cinematography, the beats are contemporary, urban and urgent. Brilliant.
Brilliant short which feels fresh but familiar in how easy it is to connect to its central character. Something we haven’t seen before.
It was beautiful.
Such a brilliant, rich story. It’s tense, it’s beautiful, I loved it. Stunning cinematography.
Utterly authentic, sympathetic and subtle – this is very persuasive film-making.
To Know Him
- Writer: Kellie Smith
- Director: Ted Evans
- Producer: Michelle Stein
- Producer: Jennifer Monks
Film Description fron BIFA:
When a tragic accident leaves Sarah grieving for her deaf partner Rob, she is forced to track down and engage with his estranged hearing father. To lay the man she loves to rest, Sarah must overcome a barrier far greater than language.
Ted Evans Profile from tedevans.co.uk
Ted is a freelance writer-director, editor and self-shooting filmmaker based in London, where his production company Defeye Films, produces films to a wide range of clients. Starting his career at a small production company, Ted progressed from researcher to AP/director at BBC See Hear and in 2012 he co-wrote and directed two films for the Paralympic Opening Ceremony – Look Up and Bird Gherl. Ted received international and critical acclaim for his award winning shorts, The End and Retreat, which is currently being developed into a feature film, through Creative England’s low-budget filmmaking initiative iFeatures.
Ted Evans about To Know Him:
The idea for the story came from several random nuggets of information I chanced upon, multiple sources I read, saw or knew about personally, but the real inspiration really stemmed from me just wanting to make a film after four years, struggling to get a project off the ground.
The title of the film, and I guess one of the nuggets, evolved from the Phill Spector song ‘To know him is to love him’ which was apparently engraved on his father’s headstone. I love the song but the idea that you can only truly know someone by loving them stuck, as it’s very common for deaf people to experience communication barriers inside the family.
90% of deaf people are born to hearing/speaking families and sign language is usually an expensive afterthought; if the child grows up unable to speak or hear with intervention and hearing devices, it’s usually too late for the families to establish sign language as their primary means of communication. This causes so much damage on the child but it also prevents the families from truly knowing their offspring/sibling.
I blended this in with other ideas and I came up with the story outline without much of a struggle. We then got Kellie Smith on board and we developed it further into the finished film.
The challenges we faced when filming were mostly the weather. We got a lot of rain, which looks great now but it was certainly something I didn’t bank on. I always saw the final memorial as being sunny; a clearing in the air if you like that also opened up the location and exposed the father amongst people he never knew and essentially let down. But it was miserable, wet and grey so we just went with it.
I specifically wanted to shoot on the estuary of the River Dee, as I was there, almost to the day, one year before production attending a memorial myself and I was blown away by the location. So I set the story in Wirral/Liverpool and it was a joy to film up there; everyone is very friendly and we were filming in locations that would be very difficult to get in London, which is where I’m from. It also led me to Ged McKenna who played the father and was brilliant to work with.
Lastly, it was very important to me to make what I call a ‘crossover film’. Films in sign language or with deaf characters are usually made for the deaf community and for audiences who can relate, but I wanted to take this story to a much wider audience and shoot it in a way that created empathy on both sides of the cultural divide.
The BIFA nom certainly goes some significant way in achieving that ‘crossover’ and I’m really encouraged to continue exploring ideas and stories that can do that.
Kellie Smith on To Know Him:
I was bought on as screenwriter to TKH and it proved to be a brilliantly collaborative process. What struck me about this film was that the character existed in a very specific world and culture, yet the story had universal power and intensity. I always look for big emotional stakes which the story had – but the language barrier really gave the characters a heightened sense of disconnect. The challenge was forcing them to a point of mutual understanding – and even compassion, within just half hour.
Michelle Stein on To Know Him:
To Know Him came about from a relationship I have with Ted Evans who I’m making the iFeature Retreat with next year. Very few films predominantly in sign language make it into the mainstream, but Ted’s idea about losing a loved one and then finding out their estranged parent is still next-of-kin has an emotional impact that is universal. Kellie worked brilliantly and collaboratively to flesh out Ted’s original idea and Ted brought it to the screen beautifully working really hard with the actors on performance. Our lead actor had done very little and Ted worked hard to help her access the emotion needed for this story.
This film was unusual, strong and powerful, crossing boundaries between deaf and hearing audiences.
Nicely paced and brilliant acting.
An incredibly powerful film. Deeply sad, moving. The performances were so strong, and what an inspired way of highlighting a social issue. Just a brilliant film.
This really moved me.
A sensitive and beautifully judged film. Very moving.