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London Film Festival 2020: UK Focus Short Films

For the rest of my London Film Festival coverage, click here.

With so many feature films getting reviews and highlighted during the festival, it can be easy to forget that the London Film Festival is home to plenty of short films. Unlike the press screenings of the feature films, these shorts are available to watch at any point until the 30th of October. I plan to work my way through as many of the categories as possible, but today I am starting with the UK Focus group. From this group, I watched five short films and had a variety of opinions on them. Here are my reviews of the films.

Wood Child and Hidden Forest Mother (2020)

Wood Child and Hidden Forest Mother

IMDB Link: Wood Child and Hidden Forest Mother (2020)
Director: Stephen Irwin
Writer: Stephen Irwin

Synopsis: Deep in the forest, a hunter encounters a strange creature he cannot kill.

Sadly, this animation did not work for me at all. I did not like the style of the animation, the story is completely insane and I did not understand what was going on at all. There didn’t seem to be a narrative, just this world that sprouts out of rainbows and a creature that makes these images appear after being shot. I am not sure if the creator wanted to make the film fun and bright for children, dark with the idea of hunters or insane to the point that I felt like I was on drugs, but it was safe to say that I could not get on board with whatever happened here.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.
Shuttlecock (2020)

Shuttlecock

IMDB Link: Shuttlecock (2019)
Director: Tommy Gillard
Writer: Tommy Gillard
Stars: Tom Greaves, Niall Kiely, Sam Morgan

Synopsis: Carl (Greaves) is forced to question what it means to be a man when a new, mysterious member of the badminton club joins in with the charity tournament.

Overall, I had a fun time with this short. The performances from both Tom Greaves and Niall Kiely are great, having fun with the narrative and their characters. Using the plot device of badminton to tell this fun story definitely helped with the sexual tension that was built up, between the racket movements and the intense stares. I would have actually loved for this short to be a little longer, allowing further character development and a shift in behaviour to happen. However, it is a fun short and one worth checking out.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Mandem (2020)

Mandem

IMDB Link: Mandem (2020)
Director: John Ogunmuyiwa
Writer: John Ogunmuyiwa
Stars: Bradley Banton, Stevie Basaula, Michael Akinsulire

Synopsis: A job is just a job, but as with anything, time flies when you’re doing it with your best friend. This film follows Ty (Banton) and Malcolm (Basaula) as they go about their daily routine.

For a majority of the short film, I was hesitant on whether I liked it or not. It seems simple not only in presentation but in filmmaking. However, I ended up liking how raw and honest the film was. The performances are simple, but fitting for a film of this style. I was also surprised by the ending, which twists the entire narrative and creates impact. This is a recommend for me.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Hungry Joe (2020)

Hungry Joe

IMDB Link: Hungry Joe (2020)
Directors: Samuel Dawe, Paul Holbrook
Writers: Samuel Dawe, Paul Holbrook
Stars: Laura Bayston, Andrew Greaves, George Morgan

Synopsis: A single mother struggles to bond with her apathetic child, born with an insatiable and increasingly inhumane appetite.

Hungry Joe is easily my favourite of the five shorts that I watched here. Creative yet dark, this short is haunting and all of the filmmaking aspects are excellently done. The performances, especially by Laura Bayston, are fantastic and the use of production and cinematography help bring this grueling story to life. It may just be the most horrifying film I see in the entire festival, and it gets a high recommend for me.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Good Thanks, You? (2020)

Good Thanks, You?

IMDB Link: Good Thanks, You? (2020)
Director: Molly Manning Walker
Writer: Molly Manning Walker
Stars: Jasmine Jobson, Micheal Ward, T’Nia Miller

Synopsis: A 16 year old girl is thrown further into trauma by the authorities.

There is definitely a stronger story and film with this one. I feel like the editing that chops the story up doesn’t help connect all of the pieces or gives the character development needed for the emotional impact. However, there are some individual scenes, particularly when the girl is going through each authority and retelling her story, that are incredibly well written and have that gut-punch moment. This could have been stronger, but I would recommend it for the ambition it has and the message it communicates.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Are you going to check out any of these short films? Which one are you most intrigued by? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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