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Film Of The Week: Heading South


Heading South by Yuan Yuan (2020) (China/USA) (13m)

The drama follows Chasuna, a Mongolian girl who stays the night with her father in Beijing to celebrate his birthday and to collect alimony. Beginning and ending on the steppe, it brings to mind the feature documentary The Eagle Huntress, though no one told the horse not to look at camera. It is an effective drama with superb acting and nice moments (like how differently dogs are treated) reminiscent of Lynne Ramsay.

Mister Hollow

Norm by Miguel Endara (2017) (USA) (13m)

In world where rape is legal, two men return from a drunken night out and encounter a sober housemate, who is part of the minority that believes in consensual sex and is thus there to be mocked and taunted. It is, of course, addressing the argument made by the majority who support the killing of animals for us to consume and their attitude towards the minority who believe we should not do this: the argument being that other animals eat animals so it therefore natural for us to do likewise.

Invincible by Vincent Rene-Lortie (2022) (Canada) (30m)

A young man in a young offenders institute dreams of freedom but his rebellious streak makes it unlikely. The opening scene gives away the ending, in a similar way to the feature film Carlito's Way (1993). The production values, directing, cinematography and acting are all superb, as is the whole mise-en-scene (linguistic pun intended), with water used to denote freedom (of course not an uncommon motif with its baptismal connotations).


The Bloody Olive

Finding Family by Ed Wiles (2024) (UK) (3m)

An annoyingly smiley presenter, very much like Davina McCall, on a reality TV show very much like Long Lost Family, wants the man searching for his mother on her show to cry on camera and is constantly encouraging him to do so. Things take an absurd turn when his mother turns out to be closer than he expected, but will the presenter get the tears she so desparately wants?

Prazinburk Ridge by Martin Bell (2022) (UK) (10m)

The Fs Festival Grand Prize Winner is the epic animation telling the story of Douglas Clark, a rugby league player who represented Great Britain before serving in WWI, where his athleticism and never-say-die attitude helped him save himself and his fellow soldiers during a German attack. It is a moving story of heroism with exceptional animation from Bell, who has worked in the film industry for many years, especially as a previz supervisor.

Small Deaths

In Between by Effie Pappa (2022) (Greece) (6m)

In Between is a comical stop-motion animation exploring the repetitiveness of everyday existence and our inability to find time for anything. So busy! But then time freezes for the three characters in the film. It was a hit on the short film festival circuit before becoming a finalist in the Fs Film Festival. Effie is a prolific artist who had great success previously with festival favourite My Stuffed Granny.


Bystander by Rachel Aoun (2022) (Lebanon) (12m)

The Festival finalist is perhaps the best exploration of masculinity ever depicted in a short film (and written by a woman). This short drama follows the basketball coach and new father, Roger, who witnesses a vicious (and ultimately fatal) assault on his way to work but fails to intervene. He is left questioning his manhood and his feelings of emasculation are finally expressed in a wonderful scene where he berates himself through his students.


Unstoppable Beat by Luke & Rufus Dye-Montefiore (2023) (UK) (6m)

Unstoppable Beat has won the Best Short Animation award in the FILMSshort Online Festival, selected by Jabari Cofer. Full of amazing visuals, it tells the true story of a Haitian migrant unwilling to give up despite the difficulties he and his countrymen have faced. He has left the chaos and poverty of Haiti to find work in Brazil.

House on Little Cubes

Split Or Steal by Jack Bailey (2022) (UK) (7m)

A wonderful comedy-drama centred on a game show climax where the two contestants can either share the prize pot or attempt to steal it all (but if both try to steal it, neither wins). When the male contestant is screwed by his female counterpart he has the chance for a redo when a camera issue means the show's finale needs to be replayed. How will he fare next time around in this Fs Festival finalist?

Within by Christopher Key (2018) (UK) (7m)

This drama disguised as a documentary tells the story of a man coming to terms with the grief of losing his daughter during a beach holiday in Spain. His recounting of the tragedy is interspersed with an apparently unrelated scene by a lake, where he meets a woman and dons a stethoscope. The reason for these incongruous clips becomes clear at the end, and the enigma of their purpose keeps the viewer engaged until then.

The Guilt

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