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Film Of The Week: Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves by Saman Hosseinpuor (2015) (Iran) (4m) *

Autumn Leaves was voted Best Short Short in the 10th FILMSshort competition. It tells the story of a little girl who wants to stay at home and play with a fallen leaf but must go to school instead. We follow her as she makes her way through the streets until she arrives at school, where leaves are no longer a source of amusement. It is a subtle, dialogue-free film full of beautiful shots and showing a side of Iran not normally seen by Westerners.

Ouija Sex by Mondo Ghulam (2017) (UK) (4m)

Ouija Sex was a success on the short film festival circuit, picking up several awards, before winning the BEST SHORT SHORT FILM in the 15th FILMSshort Competition. It tells the story Ryan, who is heart-broken after his girlfriend dies. He manages to make contact with her using an ouija board and things soon turn rather saucy. But there's a time and place for such things. By day, Ghulam works as an animation director in the video games industry.

Mister Hollow

Pitch Black Heist by John Maclean (2011) (UK) (13m)

Pitch Black Heist won the BAFTA in 2012. Starring Michael Fassbender, it tells the story of two Irishmen hired to crack a safe in a London office guarded, for some reason, by a light sensitive alarm system. The younger of the two men - who are strangers - seems to take an immediate dislike to the older but, as they rehearse with blindfolds and share a spliff, they seem to form a bond. However, is one of them hiding a secret and will the heist go as planned in the dark?

My Year Of Dicks by Sara Gunnarsdottir ('22) (US) (24m)

My Year Of Dicks has been nominated for the Best Animated Short Oscar. It is an autobiographical - and sometimes comical - tale of a 15-year-old girl trying to lose her virginity in 1990s Houston, but selecting a series of wronguns (the eponymous dicks), while ignoring her doting best friend. Of course, you could argue that Pam is the biggest dick by selecting a series of unsuitable mates.


Your Mountain Is Waiting by Hannah Jacobs ('21) (UK) (8m) *

This 2023 BAFTA nominated animation is apparently inspired by Native American spirit animal mythology - or His Dark Materials. It tells the story of a moping city dweller who encounters a fox and dives into a magical world with said canine. I use the word "story" loosely here as, in truth, there is not a lot of story and, as is often the case with BAFTA nominated animations, its value is mostly contained with the animation itself (which is of course superb).


Don't Feed The Pigeons by Antonin Niclass ('21) (UK) (9m) *

Don't Feed The Pigeons won the Short Animation BAFTA in 2022. It is set in a coach station in the middle of the night, where a varied assortment of travellers wait in silence while the pigeons go about their business. When the pigeons take flight in a display that inspires awe in the humans, there is a momentary connection between them. The animation is, of course, awesome and there are some nice moments but the story is perhaps a little limited - as is often the case with the BAFTA winner.


Safe by Ian Barling (2021) (USA) (16m)

Will Patton, known to American audiences for Yellowstone, is a father trying to do right by his wayward son after the latter "glasses" someone in a nightclub. There are lots of interesting directorial choices - one could argue that it tries too hard in that respect - and the acting is of course superb. Indeed, it reminded me a little of Manchester By The Sea. It is typical festival fodder, being full of subtlety, unheard dialogue and a somewhat inconclusive ending (though the father-son story is resolved).


The Naughty List by Paul Campion (2016) (USA) (9m)

A competition finalist, The Naughty List reminds us that Santa Claus will visit all the world's children on Christmas Eve, even if the child in question - Vince - is an adult mobster hiding out with his partner-in-crime in a secluded cabin. The problem is that Vince's partner does not believe in Santa Claus and, fearing the stranger could be a hitman, is tempted to put a slug in him. For his part, Santa Claus is no saint, but how will this unusual situation end, and will the rest of the world's children get their presents tonight?

Small Deaths

The Bloody Olive

The Bloody Olive by Vincent Bal (1996) (Belgium) (10m)

The Bloody Olive is a slick, funny spoof from Belgium (they must really love Santa there), where the comedy deepens as things go from crazy to crazier and then up a notch. Don't try to follow the details of the ever-changing plot too closely - just sit back and enjoy one stupid twist after another! Bal went on to make the succesful TV animated series, Kirka & Bob. The Bloody Olive has English subtitles.

Pommel by Pari Zarcilla (2018) (UK) (20m)

Pommel tells the story of two British-Asian gymnast brothers and draws on the filmmaker's own experiences of growing up in an Asian household in the UK. With an overbearing and disapproving father, the elder brother begins to take out his frustrations on his younger brother. The powerful performances of the two boys (brothers in real life) is perhaps the impressive aspect of this short drama, which was nominated for a BIFA.


The Pitch by John Hardwick (2015) (UK) (9m)

By the British film and TV director John Hardwick, who has been a judge in the FILMSshort competition, you sense that the comedy short The Pitch came from bitter experience. It tells the story of a screenwriter, Alan (Richard Glover), who is meeting with a self-satisfied film producer - with a track record in B movies - to pitch him his new script. However, when he finally gets to pitch his idea, he reveals a concept that is something a little bit different - and the producer appears to be in mortal danger.

Creature Comforts

Mama by Andy Muschietti15 Certificate(2008) (Spain) (5m)

Mama is fairly light on plot and heavy on trope (taking much of its sensibilities from the excellent but prevalent South Korean horror movies of the time), but the filmmaking (especially lighting and camera-work) is pretty brilliant. Largely shot in one take, it follows two sisters who awake one morning to discover that their mother is back. However, their mother is not a source of comfort for them. Muschietti went on to make the accomplished (Stephen King) It remakes.


Daddy's Girl by Lena Hudson (2022) (USA) (11m)

Matria won many awards on the short film festival circuit, including the Grand Jury Prize at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Made in Galicia, Matria tells the story of the middle-aged and humorless Ramona as she struggles through a depressing daily routine of non-stop work, which includes working in a mussel-canning factory and buying her granddaughter's birthday present. Can anything make her smile? It is very much a slice-of-life piece, with minimal story, but it is very real with a great lead performance.

The Guilt by David Victori (2011) (Spain) (13m)

A recent stay in an Italian hotel reminded me of The Guilt (La Culpa), an interesting and engaging film from Spain, which itself reminds me of The Stairway by Alex Torterotot (for obvious reasons if you watch both). It won the 2012 Your Film Festival and it's easy to see why. It begins with the murder of a man's pregnant girlfriend and follows his quest for revenge. During this quest he learns that murder will leave you in an inescapable spiral of guilt...

The Guilt

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