Glasgow Short Film Festival 2021: 5 shorts to stream
Laurence Boyce | On 24, Mar 2021
The Glasgow Short Film Festival has moved online for its 14th edition, giving people across the UK the chance to experience some of the very best short films from across the world. The shorts at GSFF 2021 are bold and provocative, designed to push the boundaries of cinema as well champion diverse talents. (See our guide the line-up and how it works here.)
The festival is still holding its two annual competitions – the Scottish Short Film Award, honouring inspiration and innovation in new Scottish cinema, and the Bill Douglas Award for International Short Film, named after the legendary Scottish filmmaker. The latter of these celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2021, so there is also a programme showcasing some of the best past winners. Other programmes include a selection of films about mental health, a chance for laughs with some comedy films and No New Normal, a series of films about the state of the modern world.
Not sure where to start? We’ve picked out five films that are worth seeking out among the many other gems streaming until Sunday 28th March:
I Am Afraid to Forget Your Face (Egypt, Dir. Sameh Alaa)
The winner of the 2020 Cannes Palme d’Or for Best Short is a powerful meditation on loss, following protagonist Adam as he makes a journey to reunite with the one he loves. Revelling in silence and mystery, the film is a masterclass of control and restraint as the true circumstances behind Adam’s sense of emptiness begins to reveal itself. The cinematography is astounding, disconnecting Adam from the world around him, while the central performance from Seif Hemeda is extraordinary. For all its subtlety, the film has a powerful and affecting strain of emotion and is a breathtaking experience.
One Thousand and One Attempts to Be an Ocean (France, Dir. Wang Yuyan)
A kaleidoscopic mash-up of YouTube videos that promise ASMR experiences, vicarious thrills and the chance to ‘live’ from the comfort of your very own home all set to a loop of electronic music and spoken word. In and of itself, the film is a hypnotic experience, the rhythms of the editing and the pulsing of the music mesmerising the viewer. But it’s also a treatise on how much of modern life is predicated on living our lives through vicarious means. Should we learn about the world by sitting in front of a screen or should we be out there experiencing things for ourselves?
The Shift (UK, Dir. Laura Carreira)
A poignant and pointed comment on the state of the UK, Laura Carreira’s work is an astonishing slice of social realism. A woman walking around the supermarket gets a phone call explaining that her shift is cancelled. We soon begin to realise that the resultant loss of money will have devastating consequences for her and her family. Like all great short films, this takes a seemingly tiny moment of life and extrapolates the seismic changes it has upon the fate of an individual. With Anna Russell-Martin’s emotionally restrained performance in the lead, and an emotional gut-punch of an ending, it’s a reminder that – coronavirus pandemic aside – there are lots of people still falling through the cracks due to a massively unfair society.
Huntsville Station (USA, Dirs. Chris Filippone, Jamie Meltzer)
The titular Greyhound Station, close to Huntsville State Penitentiary, sees a steady supply of recently released prisoners who are ready to start their lives afresh. This revealing documentary interviews many of those who have spent large swathes of their lives behind bars with Huntsville Station being one of their first tastes of freedom. Many are happy to talk as they look back at the choices that have led them to this point, some bitter about the past an others hoping that their future is better. But all carry a certain trepidation about a world that has passed them by and a fear that there is no place for them anymore. An achingly human piece of work.
So What If The Goats Die (France, Dir. Sofia Alaoui)
The winner of the Sundance Best Short Film in 2020, this is the eerie story of young shepherd who lives in the mountains and is forced to go to the nearest village to find vital supplies to save his livestock. But there he discovers that the place has been abandoned with seemingly supernatural elements at work. While Alaoui plays with genre trappings, this is really an investigation into faith and belief done with an admirable sense of mystery though post pandemic the film has taken on a new relevance.
The 14th Glasgow Short Film Festival runs until Sunday 28th March. To buy a festival pass visit glasgowshort.org