The British Independent Film Awards work tirelessly to champion the very best in British film. This year we’re proud to work with them again to look closer at the films that make up the 2020 BIFA Best Short Film Award longlist. Along with details of the films we have included trailers, weblinks and glowing comments from BIFA voters.
The BIFA Best British Short Film Award is proud to be supported by BFI Network, who exist to discover, support, develop and champion new filmmakers.
There will be a virtual event on the 25th of November for the longlisted filmmakers featuring clips, interviews and a Q&A. HeyUGuys will be part of that event, but check out the BIFA website for more information.
It’s always a pleasure to present this list. Each year we find the British film industry in rude health, with more voices and visions being brought to the fore.
Here are this year’s films and filmmakers.
3 Logical Exits
Director/Producer: Mahdi Fleifel
Producer: Patrick Campbell
A sociological meditation on the different “exits” that young Palestinians choose, in order to cope with life in the refugee camps.
BIFA voters said: “Powerful stuff. Beautifully shot and sharply observant.” “Sophisticated and moving.”
An Everyday Act
Writer/Director: Gavin Scott Whitfield
Producer: Jennifer Monks
With one terrible act, 12 year old Eric leaves his childhood behind in a bid to help his family survive.
BIFA voters said: “It was beautifully shot and had a compelling sort of lyricism”
Writer/Director/Producer: Tal Amiran
Under Paris’ glittering Eiffel Tower, undocumented Senegalese migrants sell miniature souvenirs of the monument, to support their families back home. Far from their loved ones and hounded by the police, each day is a struggle through darkness in the City of Lights.
BIFA voters said: “An important documentary that resonates. Stylishly made.” “Powerful stuff – a real eye-opener”
Writer/Director/Producer: Rafael Manuel
Producer: Naomi Pacifique
The self-contained cosmos of the golf course reflects societal structures. Although new ‘tee girl’ Isabel still has to learn the rules, she’s already looking for loopholes to subvert the system.
BIFA voters said: “Subtle, and beautifully shot and composed.”
The Forgotten C
Writer/Director: Molly Manning Walker
Writer/Producer: Jessi Gutch
Aisha has never let her cancer define her – choosing to still work and do the normal things that any 28 year old wants to do. Whilst she’s always known that eventually her treatment options will run out, she envisaged going out with a blast. Now a global pandemic has effectively imprisoned her and her partner, Jamie, in a tiny flat as the final months of her life play out. The strain put on relationships by a terminal illness is heightened by Aisha’s inability to be close to the rest of her loved ones. The physical distance to her family in particular only serves to worsen their denial and lack of understanding about the severity of her disease. This is particularly acute for her father, Asim, who continues to work as a bus driver and is debilitated with fear about infecting Aisha with COVID. This makes him stay away from his daughter when she needs him most. And, for her and Jamie, the enormity of what they’re having to deal with as a young couple becomes increasingly unmanageable without extra support. Ultimately this is a story about the rituals behind the most human of emotions: love and grief. It’s about how we often struggle to express those emotions at the most important moments, and how the pandemic has forced so many of us to confront how we experience love and grief in ways that we’d never imagined.
BIFA voters said: “Beautifully shot, and one of the few lockdown films that didn’t just look tired and as boring as lockdown.”
Good Thanks, You?
Writer/Director: Molly Manning Walker
Producers: Sorcha Bacon, Theo Barrowclough, Scarlett Barclay
In the aftermath of an attack, Amy is left voiceless, trapped in a whirlwind of incompetence. She must find a way to confront what has happened, in order to save what matters to her most.
BIFA voters said: “The cast is exceptional and it’s beautifully shot. Really effectively shows so much of Amy’s experience with little exposition and a smart use of minimal dialogue.”
Writer/Director: Akinola Davies
Writer/Producer: Wale Davies
Producer: Rachel Dargavel
After 8-year-old Juwon gets removed from Bible class by her Sunday school teacher, she follows an Agama Lizard into the bowels of the “Heaven’s Gate” Mega Church. Her journey into the labyrinth exposes the financial inner workings and the hidden activities behind the scenes. Plunging her deeper until she is confronted by a spellbinding sermon and a congregation worshipping in a hypnotised frenzy. Magical interactions with an alarmingly larger Lizard and a sturdy gateman serve as metaphors for the preceding incidents. As her family proceed to leave the Church they are intercepted by the dramatic confrontation with a gang of holy armed robbers.
BIFA voters said: “This was so beautifully shot, and a really compelling, well written story…I’m really excited to see what the filmmaker does next.”
The Long Goodbye
Director: Aneil Karia
Writer: Aneil Karia, Riz Ahmed
Producer: Tom Gardner
In a dystopian near-future, a British South Asian family are disrupted from the throes of their everyday lives as they are dragged from their homes and packed into vans by aggressive paramilitaries.
BIFA voters said: “So powerful, well shot.” “Intelligent and potent. Relevant to now.”
Writer/Director: John Ogunmuyiwa
Producer: Emily Everdee
A job is just a job, but as with anything, time flies when you’re doing it with your best friend. And today’s no different. We follow Ty & Malcolm as they go about their daily routine. Just another day for two really good friends conducting business as usual.
BIFA voters said: “Plays with expectations quite deftly and makes the point that ‘masculinity’ is never just one thing.”
Meow or Never
Director/Co-Writer: Neeraja Raj
Co-Writer: Vanessa Rose
Producer: Diana Podra
In a madcap musical, a catstronaut travels the galaxy looking for the meaning of life when she encounters a space pup eager to help but only gets them into trouble at every turn.
BIFA voters said: “It’s a spectacular piece demonstrating the full range of animation techniques and creativity of the film makers.”
Writer/Director: Edem Kelman
Producer: Noah Reich
All around the city there are lives, crossing and intersecting. One day you might find a balloon on the floor, look at it long and hard, and ask: Who did it once belong to? Whose face did it light up? Where did it take flight and when did it land? What joy was it once commemorating, now only to be trodden on and wheeled over between alleyways and curbs?
BIFA voters said: “Joyous and then heartbreaking! A powerfully emotive piece told fully in subtext with a skill that few filmmakers can pull off with such finesse.”
Director: Tammes Bernstein
Writer: Theo Wanderydz
Producer: Jamie Macdonald
In an isolated coastal town, where everyone knows everyone, Eliza works shifts at the fish factory while her fisherman dad goes out to sea. When an apparent accident happens, rumours start spreading, and Eliza has to decide whether she fully trusts her dad.
BIFA voters said: “Loved everything about this and was hooked from the word go. Great performances and all round solid drama.”
Speaking for the Dead
Director: Peiman Zekavat
A cameraman was sent to cover the events 6 days after the Grenfell fire which destroyed a tower block in west London, killing 72 people, and considered one of the UK’s worst modern disasters. What followed was a portrait of mainstream media and how momentarily they told their story by framing the event, with little awareness, contact, or connection with the community of sufferers.
BIFA voters said: “This is easily the best documentary I’ve seen about Grenfell. It could so easily be another puff piece of ‘journalism’ that is really voyeurism but it isn’t – it’s just brilliant.” “Great, very powerful.”
Writer/Director: Sophie Littman
Producer: Tom Wood
Mia takes her sister Squeeze to walk their dog in the fields near their home. The landscape begins to morph around them, tricking them and introducing Mia to a strange man lurking at the edge of a dark wood. Starring Esme Creed-Miles (Hanna), Sam Spruell (Starred Up) and Millie Ashford, Sudden Light is a film about two sisters plunged into a powerless limbo in the face of oncoming grief.
BIFA voters said: “Excellent filmmaking. The writing is brilliant, it really builds tension.” “Terrifying! So simple, so unnerving. Brilliant reflection on fear, panic and impending grief. Loved the style and 70s horror feel.”
Writer/Director: Shira Haimovici
Producer: Yuli Shiloach
On a hot summer’s day, mischievous teenager Gal takes a dip in her favorite nearby pool and unexpectedly encounters a group of Hasidic boys.
BIFA voters said: “Beautifully shot and well acted. Captures a moment of Summer that feels indicative of when you’re at an awkward age and things don’t always make sense around you. The transition from girlhood to womanhood beginning.” “An accomplished piece of cinema. The transition from short film to feature film is easy to imagine for this filmmaker. One to watch”
Writer/Director: Carmen Mueck
Producer: Miriam Newman
On a remote stretch of coast, Mara, Kate and Lois are holidaying abroad. Within their small clique tensions and divisions have formed and Lois has become the scapegoat. The sudden arrival of a man amongst the white rocks gives Lois a way back in, but as the pecking order shifts the women find that more than status is at stake.
BIFA voters said: “Fantastic, a really tense and beautiful film that reminded me of Picnic on Hanging Rock – that tension in the heat – it was just brilliant”