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Film Of The Week: Stuffed by Theo Rhys

Stuffed by Theo Rhys (2021) (UK) (19m)

The BAFTA long-listed Stuffed is the first musical two-hander I have seen. But then I have seen relatively few short film musicals - indeed, only the Oscar winning West Bank Story springs to mind. It tells the story of a female taxidermist who wants to stuff a human and the man who volunteers to be said human. It is an impressive film with wonderful cinematrography from Piers McGrail. The whole thing is a reminiscent of the quality of Sweeney Todd.


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

A New Year tradition, 8 was the winner of the fourth FILMSshort competition (way back) and is a masterful example of how to create a film with no dialogue. Two soldiers from opposing armies (the naughts and the crosses) 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 where we tradionally show the best Christmas short film: Argentine Tangos (Tanghi Argentini). Nominated for a Best Short Film Oscar in 2008, Argentine Tangos is a beautiful comedy drama full of Christmas spirit. 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.

Short Calf Muscle by Victoria Warmerdam (2019) (Holl) (13m)

I'm not really sure what the message of the black comedy Short Calf Muscle (Korte Kuitspier) is but it is an intriguing view. I suspect it is saying that where we see a person as different, to the person it is normal and they are thus unaware of the difference (and can therefore not understand our prejudice). However, by the end I wanted to see what everyone else was seeing in the film. Does that make me prejudiced? Anyway, it is a very nicely made film and did well on the short film festival circuit.



Leylak by Scott Aharoni & Dennis Latos (2021) (USA) (17m)

Leylak (Lilac), made during the coronavirus pandemic, is a classic festival drama; the short equivalent of Nomadland (but more diverse). It follows a Turkish gravedigger in New York who is having to dig more than the normal number of graves, and who has to take his daughter to see her mother. There is something he is keeping from her, which is putting a strain on their relationship; but what is it exactly?

Louis' Shoes by Philippe, Leung, Blanc & Jamin ('20) (Fra) (5m) 15

Another excellent animation from French students, Louis' Shoes (Les Chaussures de Louis) won the Student Academy Award for Best Animation. Yes, it ticks all the "made-for-awards" boxes (except diversity), but that does not detract from it being a very nicely made film with a warm ending. Louis is an autistic kid who has arrived at a new school after classmates at his previous establishment used his devotion to his shoes against him. Forced to introduce himself, he seems destined for a life on the sidelines.


You Eat Other Animals? by Ed Wiles (2021) (UK) (5m)

Evanna Lynch (Harry Potter) is one of two aliens who are taking two happy-go-lucky men back to their home planet for a lifetime of adoration. The men know they are on to a good thing but the vibes turn sour when the men question the lack of meat in their spaceship meal. It seems the aliens find the idea of humans eating other animals hard to grasp and the men's efforts to justify their diet just makes things worse. With one of them oversharing, they dig themselves into an ever-deeper hole.

Fred by Leftchannel (2016) (USA) (1m) *

The short comedy Fred, a fantastic computer animation, was a winner in the FILMSshort competition a few years aback. Fred is a short short that tells the story of two ingenious mice, a wedge of cheese and a feline called... Fred. The highly-skilled mice come up with a cunning plan to get past the sleeping Fred but wake him. Things take an unusual turn when Fred then mistakes their attempts to bypass him as an invitation to dance. And Fred has some moves!


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.


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

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