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Film Of The Week: Hair Love

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.

The Neighbors' Window by Marshall Curry (2019) (USA) (20m)

The Neighbors' Window - which won the Oscar in 2020 - is an examination of the greeness of the grass on the other side. A middle-aged couple with young children see a young, partying couple move into the apartment opposite, and are immediately reminded of their own unexciting lives. So much so, that the stressed-out mother becomes obsessed with the younger couple. However, everyone faces personal struggles and, after the passing of several seasons, it becomes clear that the couple opposite are facing a traumatic event.


The Silent Child by Chris Overton (2017) (UK) (20m)

The Silent Child is classic Oscar fodder (being a drama featuring a child) and duly won the Academy Award for Best Short Film in 2018. It tells the story of Libby, a deaf 6-year-old girl, who inhabits a silent world (because she has one of the most selfish families in the history of mankind) until a social worker teaches her sign language. It garnered a lot press at the time of its win (compared with other winners), perhaps due to Shenton's previous work on teen soap opera Hollyoaks. It is a solid drama with a great performance from the young Maisie Sly.

Thirst For Fury by Wiebe van den Ende (2016) (Holland/Brazil) (6m)

A look back at one of my favourite films from the FILMSshort competition, Thirst For Fury (Sede de Furia) is a brilliantly simple black comedy. A woman, having returned home from a business trip, is eating dinner with her boyfriend. Unfortunately, the he has a rather brutal confession to make regarding her sister. Worse, the woman has been witholding a dark truth too. Yet all is not as it seems in this unconventional relationship.


Rice Paper by Raphael Erba (2021) (France) (3m)

Another animation from France? I swear this is just coincidence. As if formed of rice paper itself, this animation tells the story of an ancient Chinese painter who captures the uncapturable with amazing ease. Having heard of his skill, the Emperor challenges him to create the most beautiful swan ever painted and is surprised to hear the painter ask for ten years to accomplish the feat. When the Emperor returns ten years later, he is surprised by what the artist has done.


Garden Party by Babikian et al (2017) (France) (7m)

Garden Party starts off like it might be a child-friendly, Pixar-like story about a frog romance, but a darkness lurks behind the film and it turns out to be not at all child-friendly in the end. A male frog is pursuing a female frog, while another frog is chasing a butterfly, and yet another is gobbling down any and all human food it sees. But their habitat is the deserted mansion of a crime boss and there has clearly been some kind of robbery. There is, in truth, not a great deal of story to the film but the animation is admittedly quite brilliant.

Small Deaths

Wild Love by Paul Autric et al (2019) (France) (7m)

Wild Love is a comedy horror that showcases their animation skills to great effect. After her trekking pole accidentally impales an unsuspecting marmot at the bottom of a cliff, a woman and her boyfriend find themselves being hunted by a vengeful posse of the woodland mammals. Can they escape with their lives? It does become reasonably gory so is not suitable for young children, though it does perhaps teach them that it is important to not randomly kill animals.


8 by Acim Vasic (2010) (Serbia/ Swiss) (9m) *

A winter classic, 8 was the winner of the fourth FILMSshort competition some years ago and is a masterful example of how to create a film with no dialogue. Written and directed by Acim Vasic, it follows two soldiers from opposing armies (the naughts and the crosses), who find themselves alone in a snowy forest. A game of cat and mouse ensues as the pendulum swings between them - but there are ultimately few winners in the game of war!


Argentine Tangos by Guy Thys (2006) (Belgium) (14m)

It's that time of the year when I post probably the best Christmas short film in Argentine Tangos (Tanghi Argentini). Nominated for an Oscar in 2008, Argentine Tangos is a beautiful comedy drama full of Christmas spirit. In the film, we follow a middle-aged office-worker trying to fulflil his Christmas passion and conceal a snowy-white lie. I promise you will thank me for showing it to you. It is in Dutch with English subtitles.

Reflections by Adam Randall (2014) (UK) (7m)

A couple in a dissolving relationship are out for what was meant to be a romantic meal, but find themselves trapped in the restaurant after eating. They venture into the basement looking for escape and find a large mirror. It is reminiscent of a Harry Potter scene but what they see is not wish-fulfillment. It's not too hard to foresee what is going to happen, and the character decision-making is somewhat hard to understand, but it remains a very nicely made short film.


I'll End Up In Jail by Alexandre Dostie (2019) (UK) (23m)

I'll End Up In Jail (Je Finirai En Prison) was nominated at Sundance and won several other festival awards. It tells the story of Maureen, a downtrodden mother and housewife who is involved in a fatal car accident while escaping her life. Fearing that she may end up in a real prison, she persuades the other survivor, a stoner called Jelly, that they should try to cover-up the death. It is undoubtedly very fine filmmaking with great performances.



Black Sheep by Ed Perkins (2018) (UK) (26m)

The Oscar-nominated Black Sheep is a distressing short doc about the teenage years of Cornelius Walker, whose family was prompted by the killing of Damilola Taylor to move to an Essex council estate in an effort to escape the dangers of London. Unfortunately, the council estate is a hotbed of racist thuggery and Cornelius sees only one way to survive the racists: become one of them. A feature film based on this part of Cornelius's life has been mooted for many years.

Fuck You by Anette Sidor (2018) (Sweden) (15m) 15

Fuck You was nominated at Sundance in 2019 and took awards at several other international film festivals. The short drama follows a day in the life of Stockholm teenager Alice, who shoplifts a strap-on from a sex shop and then uses it to belittle her overbearing boyfriend (but not in an explicit way) in front of his friends. It is a very nicely made short (though the hand-held, focus-losing feel may not appeal to all) with a strong structure and great acting.


World of Glory

Mouse X by Justin Tagg (2015) (15m) (UK)

Mouse X is a dialogue-free, mind-binding sci-fi short film inspired by the infinity-exploring works of Dutch painter M.C. Escher. A man wakes up in a room, with nothing but a book, a mouse and a large mouse hole. He tries to make his escape but soon discovers he is part of something weird and, ultimately, infinite. Although very different, it calls to mind the Oscar-winning short animation Tango.

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

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