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Film Of The Week: The Field Trip

The Field Trip by O'Hara, Attie & Ojeda-Beck (2021) (USA) (13m)

It is hard to know what to take away from this Sundance doc, in which children are given a taste of the real world by running a microcosmic city for a day. From a British perspective, it's an indictment of the way all American kids are told they are special and can be high-achievers (like president): it instills unachievable goals and the idea that success is classed by earnings rather than happiness. To make matters worse, the children had already been classed as CFOs, CEOs or waiters by their teachers, indicating their futures were already mapped out for them by others. Of course, it may just be a mirror.


Taj Mahal Presents... A Short Film by David Dearlove (21) (UK) (5m)

A rather brilliant meta movie that should be required watching for all short filmmakers, though it is possible some of its Swiftian self-indulgence will go over many heads. Starring Phil Daniels, any explanation of the plot is quite impossible, as there is no plot. I believe Dearlove comes from a cinematographic background, which may explain why the (deliberately) unnecessary landscape shots work aesthetically despite being too long. They are also held together with an extremely professional score with a cool Spaghetti Western feel.

Favourites by Martin Monk (2019) (Germany/Austria) (17m)

The low key drama Favourites (Favoriten) was a hit on the festival circuit. It is very much a festival film, having a subtle story and muted quality, though somehow not pretentious like many others (perhaps because it was not shot in 4:3 ratio). It follows talkative and confident teenager Lia, who has run away from home after rowing with her mother. Apparently wanting to find her father in Italy, but with no money, she finally gets a lift from the middle-aged and taciturn Michael.


The Disappearance of Willie Bingham by Matt Richards (2015) (Aus) (12m)

A former winner in the Fs competision, The Disappearance of Willie Bingham is a truly disturbing short film. The eponymous Willie is languishing in prison having killed a wife and mother. Unfortunately, the criminal justice system allows for his victim's family to demand that Willie have a limb amputated as part of his punishment. Willie can then be used as an example to Australian children not to partake in crime. However, the victim's family can demand the removal of another limb. And another.

Gnome by Sacha Goedegebure (2016) (Israel) (4m)

The animated Gnome was a success on the short film festival circuit before winning the BEST SHORT SHORT FILM AWARD in the FILMSshort competition and becoming a hit on the YouTube channel with nearly 4 million views. The film explores the idea that no good deed goes unpunished when a kindly gnome decides to help out a hungry caterpillar unable to reach the leaves on a branch outside his treehouse. Having cut down some leaves for the caterpillar, the gnome finds the young creature something of a loud eater. Desperate for some sleep, the gnome must try to find a solution to his noise problem.

Small Deaths

The White Helmets by Orlando von Einsiedel (2016) (Syria) (40m)

This Oscar-winner follows a team mostly made up of tradesmen (builders, blacksmiths etc) as they try to rescue civilians caught up in the Syrian civil war, which of course means they are mostly trying to save people hit by Russian bombs. A little like watching the 2019 Oscar winning feature length documentary, For Sarma, was also filmed in Aleppo, it is difficult to not be angered by the war crimes being committed by the Syrian regime and its ally. However, the White Helmets (or Syria Civil Defense) try to stay clear of politics, focusing instead on their humanitarian work.


Jet by Jordan Chesney (2012) (USA) (8m) *

Joint winner of the 5th FILMSshort competition, Jet takes its place amongst the very best short films ever made! This dialogue-free film is a gripping thriller in which a man who plans to use a handgun on himself sees a girl being snatched from the curbside and decides he must take action. Jet was a remake of a film Jordan made less than a year before but on a lower budget and tighter shoot. A kind of dress rehearsal for this more polished version.


Period. End Of Sentence. by Rayka Zehbatchi (2018) (India) (25m)

Period. End Of Sentence. won the Academy Award for best Short Documentary in 2019. It is a shocking indictment of the struggles girls suffer in India when they start, and the mind-blowing ignorance surrounding, menstruation. As the recent feature film White Tiger explored, there is still a massive gap between the rich and poor, often based on caste, and the education enjoyed by each group respectively. Of course, there is also a cultural issue to be overcome when it comes to how periods are educated.

Colette by Anthony Giaccino (2020) (USA/Fra/Ger) (25m)

This Oscar-winning short doc follows the eponymous Colette Marin-Catherine, whose family were in the French Resistance during WWII, and who is visiting Germany for the first time at 90. Her journey is instigated by the young French student who is composing biographies of those who died at Neuengamme concentration camp, including Colette's brother. Of course, anything about the death camps is bound to bring a tear to your eye and it is hard to find a unique take on the Holocaust.


From My Window by Frank Pickell (2021) (USA) (19m)

With a tendency for us to get lost in our own difficulties, our problems pale into insignificance when compared with the everyday struggles of others, such as the subject of this film, Melissa. Born with cerebral palsy, and thus confined to a wheelchair, Melissa dreams of climbing the mountain she can see from her bedroom window. With the help of her blind mentor, Erik, and the support of a charity, Melissa will get her chance to ascend the unreachable peak. It is a life-affirming story that will have you reassessing your own problems - at least for a few hours.



Goodbye Golovin by Mathieu Grimard (2019) (Ukraine) (14m)

Goodbye Golovin tells the story Ian Golovin, a young man whose father has just died, allowing him to escape his life in one of those depressing Soviet-era towns full of tower blocks and despair. However, as he burns bridges on his way out, the question becomes whether his situation is really the problem. It performed well on the festival circuit, picking up awards along the way. I especially like that it has a skinny redhead in the lead (we tend to be overlooked by casting agents).

Exam by Sonia Hadad (2019) (Iran) (15m) 15

Exam was a hit on the festival circuit, winning at Sundance. Although it takes its time to get going, once the drama hits it is a riveting watch. A teenage schoolgirl - Sadaf - is asked by her father to pass on a small bag of cocaine on her way to school. However, when the buyer fails to arrive on time, and late for an exam, she continues to school with the drugs still in her school bag. You might ask why, if random bag checks take place in her strict Islamic school, she did not hide the cocaine somewhere safer; but I think you can guess the tricky situation she soon finds herself in.


Last Call Lenny by Julien Lasseur (2016) (USA) (12m)

The Grand Prize winner in the 13th FILMSshort competition, Last Call Lenny did very well on the short film festival circuit. It tells the story of Gabe, who has decided to end his life, but needs a little help. Lenny offers his services for people in such a situation. However, the talkative Lenny does not like to make things too simple, and also has to avoid being the one to actually pull the trigger. It seems that Lenny is a disaster looking for somewhere to happen.

Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry (2019) (USA) (6m)

Hair Love won the Oscar in 2020. This Disneyesque animation (with an anthropomorphic cat thrown in for good measure) tells the story of a young black girl, Zuri, who has an unknown but important reason for wanting to turn her untamed afro into something more appealing today. She attempts to copy one of the hairstyles demonstrated by her favourite vlogger but fails miserably and turns to her father for help. Unfortunately, he sees his daughter's hair as an unconquerable opponent.

Films marked * contain no dialogue. Search the entire website below.

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