We Are One Film Festival: Day Two
Online Screen Editor, Jim Norman, continues his coverage of WAOFF with a look at the BFI’s short film programme
After a noteworthy opening day, the We Are One Film Festival has continued to showcase its diversity across day two. Jerusalem Film Festival streamed the ballet performance of Love: Chapter Two as well as Dover Kosashvili’s 2001 dramedy, Late Marriage. The festival also streamed talks with Claire Denis and Nadav Lapid. Yet the broadcast of the day for me comes from the BFI’s ‘New Filmmakers – Short Film Program’, which showcased three of the UK’s most promising filmmaking talents.
The program kicks off with Jörn Threlfall’s Over, a snapshot of life in West London following the appearance of a body on a suburban street. At 12 minutes in length Over is the longest film in the program, yet it is also undoubtedly the most engaging. Threlfall’s narrative unfolds over a series of almost exclusively static shots, each providing a slightly different view of the same subject. Rather than looking away from the body and subsequent police activity, the camera remains trained on what is going on as if from the point of view of a nosey neighbour.
There should be no doubt that future of British film is in good hands
The short appears initially akin to the satirical look at suburban England of Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz; yet spliced into different time frames before jumping between them, the film soon changes to become a mystery with a Nolan-like anti-chronological structure. Amplified by the short’s explanatory onscreen text at its conclusion, Over is a prime example of how to pack the most narrative weight into a short time frame.
Marking a sharp change in tone, the program moves onto Runyararo Mapfume’s Masterpiece. Although not as engaging as its predecessor, Masterpiece is an enjoyable watch nonetheless. The film follows a group of men who are attempting to understand a piece of their friend’s artwork in order to compliment him. This tongue in cheek breakdown of modern art results in the group desperately trying to read meaning into items such as cereal and a spoon, making grand theories such as ‘it’s reminiscent of German Expressionism’ in order to cloak their lacking knowledge.
Aside from a takedown of artistic simplicity, the film’s depiction of the male friendship group is both believable and refreshing. Their banter flows in a familiar manner, clearly aware of how important it is to show male figures invested in the art world to please their friend. There’s no hint of boys will be boys to be seen here.
Concluding the program is Mark Jenkin’s Vertical Shapes in a Horizontal Landscape. This short provides an interesting companion piece to that which it follows, the former questioning the power of art while Jenkin’s film seeks only to exemplify it. This was the director’s final short film prior to his BAFTA award-winning feature, Bait, and there are many similarities that can be drawn between the two.
Here documenting a walk around the south coast of England, commenting on how life is changing, Jenkin’s existential eye here works to a similar beat to that which can be seen in Bait. The grain of the film camera automatically drew my mind to a world long passed, as if the modern day is being viewed through the cigar-smoked wash of a 1970s lens.
‘We’ve imposed a structure on ourselves’, the narrator muses as he films a field of sheep. The voice over is profoundly poetic, seemingly having several layers of meaning in each small observation. This short is a longing for a return to prior values. It appears that the vanilla, mundane life of Jenkin’s narrator would go on to inspire the nostalgic angst of his later award-winning feature film.
Each different in their perspective, the short film programme is held together by the individual strength of the films. There should be no doubt that future of British film is in good hands.