Shadows Fest 2003SHORT FILM REVIEWS ’04
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Back to the SHADOWS FILM FEST page • last update 29.Mar.04

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Short films from the British Film Institute's 18th London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival March-April 2004.
filipowski and buddies llgff OEDIPE -(n+1)
Eric Rognard; with Jalil Lespert, Nicole Jamet, Catherine Buquen, Dimitri Storoge, Arnaud Maillard, Gurgon Kyap, Geraldine Maillet, Yann Collette • 03/France 27m 4 out of 5 stars
This half-hour short is like a full-on sci-fi feature, complete with elaborate establishing effects shots and extremely inventive direction that uses modern day locations and props but makes them look convincingly futuristic. The story is also fiercely clever, centring on a young man named Thomas (Lespert) who wakes up after a hospital procedure--he's died and been given a newly cloned body to inhabit. But something isn't right; his memories don't match up with the reality his mother (Jamet) has rebuilt around him. He remembers a boyfriend (Storoge), but is told he now has a finacee. He remembers traveling outside the Circle of privileged society to hang out with his life-loving "unmodified" gay friends. He simply doesn't fit into this tidy life his mother insists is his. Writer-director Rognard creates the atmosphere beautifully, from the silvery sheen of the Circle to the warm glow outside, all with a sinister undertone that really gnaws at us. This is inventive filmmaking with a strikingly strong sting in the tail, and an important point to make. (27.Mar.04 llgff)
volunteers at the llgs CARRY ON CALLING
Jules Nurrish, Michelle Hickson; with Peter Madders, Chris Smith, Sarah Waters, Brian Robinson, Gus Cairns, Nick Partridge, Chris Green, Amy Lamι, Scott Capurro, Sue Perkins • 04/UK 28m 2.5/5
This TV-style documentary about the London Lesbian & Gay Switchboard has an important theme that carries us through the extremely rough production values. Made to celebrate the switchboard's 30th anniversary, the film is a lively combination of interviews with current and former volunteers and other involved people. But the strongest thing here are the callers' stories, several of which are dramatised in a very camp, comical style. This perky, flippant tone seems a bit wrong for such serious subject matter as a person finally saying the words "I'm gay" for the very first time. Clearly, the goal was to keep the film cheery and energetic, but it goes a bit over the top, especially when the filmmakers add bouncy music and far too much wacky editing. All of this is perhaps a bit too middle-class British, referring to the emotions but never capturing them or allowing them to show. It's like the filmmakers were trying far too hard to avoid sentimentality, when that's exactly what would have made this topic come to vivid life! In this sense the film seems a bit smug and generalised. But it's also very informative about an essential issue and it does convey the vital importance of the switchboard's role in many lives. It's also nice that they've included vintage ads and footage about Aids, Pride and Section 28, which take on a much more potent meaning in retrospect. (25.Feb.04 llgff)
hunaerts and ramon FAST FORWARD
Alexis Van Stratum ; with Geert Hunaerts, Matteo Simoni, Benjamin Ramon, Koen Onghenae, Alain Van Goethem • 04/Belgium 5m 2/5
There's an intriguing concept to this wordless short film that's extremely well-executed. It begins with a teen nervously entering a gay bar, obviously wondering if he'll be able to find anyone. As the night progresses, he ages rapidly through the stages of club life, from young and desirable through his 30s, 40s and eventually into old age, where no one wants anything to do with him (unless he's willing to pay). Yes, this is clever and telling, and extremely well-filmed and acted. But it's hardly earth-shattering; we've seen it all before, frankly, and with much more emotional resonance than this. (13.Mar.04 llgff)
van dijk and sorel DRIVE ME CRAZY
Kim Wyns; with Fania Sorel, Lizelotte Van Dijk, Lotte Heytenis, Jenny Tanghe, Bavo Defurne • 03/Belgium 5m 3/5
Extremely well filmed and edited, this visual short film tells its metaphorical story without any dialog as two women drive in and around a village in their car. Stopping at a pedestrian crossing, they see various people walking in front of them, while we see them go through the various stages of a relationship--from unabashed love to stony silence to finally separation. Finally, the driver (Sorel) is accompanied by a new girl ... but all isn't quite right. It's a cleverly made film, lively and energetic, with a gorgeous graininess to the imagery that adds to the home movie feel, as well as a kind of otherworldly look at life and relationships. Nothing terribly deep, but inventive and entertaining. (13.Mar.04 llgff)
Richard James • voice David Mercer • 03/UK 3m 4 out of 5 stars
This comical animated short is set during play at Wimbledon when two players begin to compete for the crowd's affection by hamming it up during a break in play, increasingly heightening the sexually suggestive stakes (eating a banana, changing a shirt) while the announcer covers it like it's part of the match itself. Not only does it hilariously spoof the whole Wimbledon circus, but the animation is inventive and strikingly fun to look at--bright and full of personality and visual wit. Wonderful! (29.Mar.04 llgff)
in the strip club FLUFF
Todd Verow • 03/US 2m 2½ out of 5 stars
There's not really a point to this short, which shows the action in a male strip club as if it were filmed with sped-up Pixelvision. It looks hilarious, especially with what's going on in the club, from stripping to a sex show to lap dancing, all while we keep trying to peer at things around men's heads. The blurry black and white is effective, but it still makes no sense and leaves you wondering if you missed some hidden message, or maybe a bit of on-screen business that would have made some sort of statement. Or maybe that's the point! (29.Mar.04 llgff)
Chris Maher • 03/US 5m 2h out of 5 stars
Another seemingly pointless short film, this micro-doc is from the point of view of a photographer in Cuba trying to find cute guys to model for him. He doesn't seem to have much trouble, even when he asks them politely to remove their pants. But almost all of these smiling young men turn out to be straight, until the end. Some of these guys are shy, some are porn stars in the making, others are just a little too friendly. But it does get a bit surreal when the filmmaker suddenly shifts into a political treatise on US foreign policy toward Cuba. Hmmm. (29.Mar.04 llgff)
David M Young; with Billt Tolzman, Peter Spinicelli, Joe Barlow, Will McGarrahan • 03/US 4m 3 out of 5 stars
There's a witty but unoriginal message in this short film about a guy who goes to a gay disco looking for his soul mate (I mean honestly, is this the place to look?) but finds something wrong with all of the muscle boys and shiny happy boys dancing with gay abandon. It's filmed from his perspective, and his voiceover monologue touches on all the old chestnuts that seem to make true gay love so unattainable--pickiness, cruelty, obsession. And when he finally finds the perfect man (Tolzman) lurking across the dance floor we just know there will be a snappy punchline. Funny, but obvious. (29.Mar.04 llgff)
stuck in the lift ON ALL FLOORS
Geoff Evans • scr Craig Handley • with Dean Kechane, Rhys Morris, Jason May, Tom Lewis, Catrin Mara • 03/UK 3m 4/5 stars
From Wales, here's a sharp comic short that gets right to the point, trapping its cast in a dodgy lift, where they panic as if they're in a small plane plunging to earth--true confessions, blind panic, creepy stories, sudden expressions of hidden love--they're all here! Very witty and extremely well filmed, with a hilarious cast of emotionally fragile young people trying to cope in a confined space for, well, three long minutes! (29.Mar.04 llgff)
the windowwasher PHONE HOME
Pierre-Yves Clouin • 03/France 5m 3/5 stars
Here's yet another incomprehensible kaleidoscope from Clouin, with seemingly disparate images and sound that work together into something rather intriguing this time around! The main image is of a window cleaner, while the sound is a collection of conversation, radio and television snippets, all of which seem to be double entendres. Besides the glass-cleaner, images tend to be men running, frolicking, whatever. Fascinating but completely incomprehensible. (29.Mar.04 llgff)
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© 2004 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall