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On this page - Raindance 2018 Shorts:
ALL THESE CREATURES | EARLY DAYS | FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS | I'M A MAN
LADIES DAY | THE RABBI | SOULS OF TOTALITY | SUNKEN PLUM | 3 SIBLINGS
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last update 2.Oct.18
See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL
|R E V I E W S B Y R I C H C L I N E
26th Raindance Film Festival
Selected shorts from the 2018 edition of London's premiere independent festival, 26.Sep-7.Oct
|First World Problems
dir-scr X Dean Lim
with Steve Park, Brandon Soo Hoo, Tamlyn Tomita, Nikki SooHoo, Bob Bancroft, Chris Valenti
Filmmaker X Dean Lim brings a terrific visual style to this comedy short, but makes everything so painfully obvious that it never has a chance to connect with the audience. It opens with a sequence of on-screen narrators explaining the meaning of the title in far too much detail, leading into a diner where a father (Park) tells his teen son (Soo Hoo) that he has to survive the next several weeks on his own with just $200 to start with. It's a lesson to get the son to learn how to fend for himself, learn the olden ways, and master the art of throwing a punch. The dialog is extremely over-written, never leaving space for even a hint of discovery or resonance. But the final minutes of the film are more intriguing, a trailer for what's to come on this season of First World Problems. There are some good gags in here, including the generically smiley, shiny tone of it all. And of course there's a strong point underlying all of this, if only Lim had let it emerge organically instead of putting it out front.
29.Sep.18 • RAINDANCE
dir-scr Uriya Hertz
with Gur Ya'ari, Amir Goldman, Nataly Szylman, Noy Levin
|Serious and thoughtful, this short dances around its central theme in an unnervingly realistic way that actually makes a powerful point. After teaching a lesson, Rabbi Michael (Ya'ari) has a visit from one of his favourite students, Gadi (Goldman), who speaks about his girlfriend (Levin). But Michael is surprised that the question isn't about whether he should get married. It's something that Gadi is afraid to say out loud. Michael tells Gadi that this is just a test, but it's clear that Michael is deeply bothered by the subject. Then over a sabbath dinner, it becomes clear that Michael's wife (Szylman) can see what's really going on here. The actors are introspective and engaging, revealing an urgency in their eyes that suggests emotions and connections. Director Hertz skilfully shoots this largely in close-up, taking advantage of these feelings and drawing out deeper ideas without being overt about them. This is a delicate, provocative little drama grappling with homosexuality without ever uttering the word. Where it goes is surprising, clever and moving.
|Im a Man
dir Alice Johnstone, Holly Lucas
with Kit Griffiths, Rosie Skan, Lauren Steele, Victoria Aubrey, Helena Fallstrom
A drag king lipsync, this short features members of the troupe Pecs performing to a song performed by Pissed Jeans and Lindsay Hunter. It's a bold, in-your-face exploration of the meaning of masculinity, with the intense patter of angry beat poetry as these cleverly made-up performers sit in office settings that poke at horrific examples of toxic masculinity and harassment. It's an unflinching expression of rage at the way society is tilted against women, and by extension also touches on issues faces by members of the trans community. The drag make-up is deliberately exaggerated, clearly painted on in close-up. And the sets are stylised rather than literal. All of which makes this film feel almost like a drive-by shooting: coming in strong with its relentless stream-of-consciousness expression of righteous indignity. It's remarkably unnerving, and very powerful.
1.Oct.18 • RAINDANCE
dir-scr Roberto F Canuto, Xu Xiaoxi
with Gu Xiang, Yu Yinmeng, Tian Peng, Li Lierong, Chen Jiaqi, Yao Zhexing
Skilfully shot and edited, this Chinese short opens in a lively underground gay bar in Chengdu where go-go boys are the opening act for ageing trans drag queen Mimi (Gu), aka Wanying, who is tired of being bullied. When she finds out that her estranged mother died, she has to make a decision about what to do. But she's afraid to go to the funeral, because of what people will think of her. And as the only "son", she'll have to disguise herself as a man and face family pressure to get married. Maybe she should just find her mother's hidden stash of cash and get out of there. But on a dark night in the woods, she has magical encounters with a hot naked man who reminds her who she is, and also with her mother (Li) who doesn't understand but loves her anyway. There's a raw yearning to this film, as Wanying struggles with her life, her lack of friends, her inability to be honest with anyone about who she is. She's constantly tempted to reveal her true self to her relatives, but holds back, cutting herself off from those around her. Where the story goes is brave and powerfully moving, finding dignity in a difficult place. And it ends with shocking real-life footage that has been censored in China.
1.Oct.18 • RAINDANCE
dir-scr Abena Taylor-Smith
with Jade Avia, Savannah Steyn, Jacqui-Lee Pryce, Nas Connie, Cynthia Emeagi, Afsaneh Dehrouyeh, Ambreen Razia, Scheherazade Braithwaite
|Set in a London hair salon, this short features a lively cast of Afro-Carribean actors engaging in a lively conversation. It opens as Amma (Steyn) pulls away from a kiss in the street from her girlfriend Jade (Jade) before entering the shop for a haircut. inside, she finds it difficult to bite her tongue when everyone expresses their homophobia, as if it's perfectly normal. "I can't accept if because I can't understand it," says one hairdresser. And the conversation spirals from here in a bracingly realistic way that quietly reveals how ingrained bigotry is throughout society. And this gives Amma the courage to do something surprising. The film is nicely shot, with a strong sense of the various characters in the shop. And the important theme at the centre is never overstated, presented as an offhanded conversation that reveals hateful attitudes couched in friendly banter. These women certainly don't think of themselves as prejudiced, but they are. The film may feel a little preachy, but it will also remind viewers to think before they speak.
dir-scr Sheena Rossiter
with Ludmylla Goncalves Pereira, Victor Hugo Pereira, Angelo dos Santos Galdino
The brightly positive film opens with the sobering statistic that, even though Sao Paulo hosts one of the largest LGBT Pride events on earth, homophobia is rampant and one LGBT person is killed each day in Brazil. From here the film takes a lively, energetic approach to life in the favelas for trans women like Lydmylla (20) and her brother Victor (22), a young gay man. They see their 31-year-old straight big brother Angelo like a dad, and are trying to convince him to attend the Pride march with them. Filmmaker Rossiter delves into each of their stories separately, as well as the dynamic in their family, living their own lives while supporting and respecting their siblings. After their mother's death from cancer, they need each other badly, especially amid such overt prejudice. "You have to show your inner strength," Victor says. The short sometimes feels a bit like a public service programme for afternoon television, but the material is strongly important, and its depiction of these people quietly explores their everyday lives, sharing the same hopes and concerns as everyone else. And it's great to see Angelo thoroughly enjoying Pride, vowing to go every year now.
2.Oct.18 • RAINDANCE
|All These Creatures
dir-scr Charles Williams
with Yared Scott, Mandela Mathia, Helen Hailu, Melody Demessie
narr Melchisedek Nkailu
|Winner of the short film Palme d'Or at Cannes, this is an illustrated internal monolog spoken by a young teen boy who's trying to make sense of his father's mental illness. He becomes sure it has something to do with their overgrown, bug-infested back yard, because that seemed to drive dad nuts and change his personality from being happy to haunted. He watches his mother and siblings try to remind his father who he is, to no avail. And the boy worries that maybe one day he will also be replaced by a different, angrier person, so he tests himself to see if it's already happening. But he also understands that the world is a harsh, noisy place, and that no one knows why people become mentally ill. The film is lyrical and deeply internalised, shot (by Adric Watson) in a wild and dreamlike style that's staggeringly beautiful It's also properly provocative, as this boy wonders about how we're all made of millions of parts, including creatures that aren't human. Filmmaker Williams takes a very serious approach here, as even the lighter moments are almost shiver-inducing. But it's vital and important.
dir-scr Nessa Wrafter
with Mamie McCoy, Adrian Bower, Peter Wight, Asan N'Jie, Ruth Rosenfelder
This quiet British drama centres on new mother Kate (McCoy), whose dad (Wight) is helping her take care of her tiny daughter. She seems uneasy about letting husband Steve (Bower) hold the infant, and is clearly having lingering trauma after the birth, or perhaps another event that is weighing heavily on her mind, intermingled with the intense feelings of being a new mother. Exhausted by the demands of being a new parent, she's struggling to cope with her feelings. Steve is helpful, but doesn't understand. Finally, a neighbour (Rosenfelder) offers some welcome encouragement. The film takes a remarkably internalised look into this situation, with astute performances that never feel obvious and stylised editing that hints at Kate's mental state. Writer-director Wrafter takes a rather dark approach to all of this, with evocative cinematography and whispered dialog, only rarely allowing a sense of happiness to flicker across the screen. The film is ultimately elusive, hinting at things without properly exploring them, but the feelings linger.
2.Oct.18 • RAINDANCE
|Souls of Totality
dir Richard Raymond
scr Kate Trefry, Ben Bolea
with Tatiana Maslany, Tom Cullen, Helen Shaver, Mike Tague
On the morning of a solar eclipse, Lady 18 and Guy 3 (Maslany and Cullen) wake up in an old school bus before heading out to watch the show in the sky. Lady 18 says she's not going to miss anything at all. She's referring to the fact that they are in a cult that believes that the eclipse is a gateway to heaven. But there's a wrinkle: one person has been chosen to stay behind to shepherd the next group of followers. The film is brightly well shot, with a sci-fi feel to it as everyone stands in the sunshine in their grey sweats discussing their last wishes. Director Raymond and writers Trefry and Bolea take their time revealing the plot's secrets. Both Cullen and Maslany are excellent, bringing their off-screen chemistry in front of the camera while adding offhanded wit and emotion to each scene, cleverly exploring how the connection between these people is tested in an almost unthinkable way. The way the story progresses is deeply disturbing, with strong emotions and a vivid sense of foreboding as it approaches its surprising final scenes.
2.Oct.18 • RAINDANCE
See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL
© 2018 by Rich Cline, Shadows
on the Wall