Reviewed: The 2017 BAFTA short film nominees
Ivan Radford | On 05, Feb 2017Reading time: 6 mins
With the BAFTA awards now just a week away, everyone’s racing to catch up on the big award contenders (see our guide to which nominees are available on VOD in the UK here) but the ones that people often forget? The short film nominees. This year, for the first time, they’re all available to stream across the UK and Ireland before the BAFTAs take place, courtesy of Curzon Home Cinema.
We take a look at the shorts in the collection, which you can watch for £3.50. That’s just 44p per film, which is an absolute bargain.
You can also see the BAFTA 2017 short films in UK cinemas from Friday 10th February. Find out where and when here.
Director: Andrea Harkin
Runtime: 14 mins
One of several short films commissioned to mark the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising, The Party takes us back to Belfast in 1962, when Mickey, a young man on the run, quietly returns home – sparking a loud celebration among his friends. Anthony Boyle, whom Harry Potter fans will recognise from his sterling turn on stage in Cursed Child, is an intriguing, evidently troubled presence at the gathering, which director Andrea Harkin shoots with a relaxed presence and an infectious ear for upbeat tunes. The visuals are warm and nostalgic, full of care-free encounters in intoxicating shadows – and then morning comes, and things change with a knock on the door. The resulting shift in tone is jarring, but deliberately so, as Harkin expertly captures the shocking way in which reality can suddenly impact upon even the youngest, innocent lives.
A Love Story
Director: Anushka Kishani Naanayakkara
Runtime: 7 mins
From the childlike fears of Coraline to the awkward loneliness of Anomalisa, stop-motion animation has a knack of making real life seem strangely new to our eyes. A Love Story is a beautiful example, as Anushka Kishani Naanayakkara presents us with a love story boiled down to its bare essence: two beings becoming tangled together. Literally, in this case, as we see two balls of wool shoot out fraying ends to one another. One white, the other burning blue and yellow, they soon become a kaleidoscopic mess of emotions. Naanayakkara stitches their romance together one strand at a time, with an eerie, poetic intensity. Then, as a dark depression looms, he rips them apart with a tangible tragedy that pulls at your heart strings.
Mouth of Hell
Director: Samir Mehanovic
Runtime: 15 mins
The Jharia coal fields in India have been burning for years. They span 85 square miles and are home to reserves worth $12 billion. The trouble is they’re also home to people. That might sound like a conventional introduction to a documentary, but director Samir Mehanovic withholds the basic information until the very end of her short film, which only makes the whole thing all the more powerful. We follow a young boy working as a coal seller, who finds a wallet dropped by a middle-class woman in the street. Does he return it to the police? Or steal the money and use it to pay for the treatment his sick mother desperately needs? The moral dilemma is given a burning intensity by the juxtaposition between the friendly, clean streets of the nearby town and the smoky, fiery backdrop that makes Jharia’s Mouth of Hell nickname all too real. There are 400,000 homes at risk in the area every year. That’s shocking enough, but Mehanovic’s short puts the human reality back into the statistics. Powerful, thought-provoking stuff.
Director: Charlotte Regan
Runtime: 5 mins
Charlotte Regan’s Standby packs in more a more convincing relationship in under five minutes than some movies do in two hours. Sticking her camera on the dashboard of a police car, her fly-on-the-wall format allows her to spend a fraction of an hour deftly coaxing out the quietly complicated bond between Gary (Andrew Paul) and Jenny (Alexa Morden). We go through changes as quickly as they do, from boyfriends and break-ups to new jobs and farewells, and Morden and Paul manage to sell every tiny shift in emotion with barely a word of dialogue. It’s a wonderfully honest portrait of friendship in an unusual workplace – a study of intimacy that understands the small details, a relationship where just remembering the way your partner likes their coffee speaks volume.
The Alan Dimension
Director: Jac Clinch
Runtime: 8 mins
“I don’t mind a bit of casual subverting of the space-time continuum, but this has become an obsession,” sighs Wendy (Felicity Montagu), as her husband, Alan (the actor Kevin Eldon), goes off on yet another hallucinatory vision about the fate of mankind. Jac Clinch’s animation wonderfully balances the bizarre with the boring tedium of domestic life, capturing dazzling vistas of a fantastical apocalypse the one minute and the annoyance of not having your eggs and toast appreciated the next. The result is hilarious, heartfelt and adorable – and contains the greatest sorry banner ever seen on screen to boot.
Director: Jennifer Zheng
Runtime: 4 mins
Auto-biographical films can be some of the most effective ways of drawing out universal truths. That’s true even when they’re animated and four minutes long. Jennifer Zheng’s own recordings of her interviews with her mum see a British-born daughter quiz her Chinese mother about childhood and identity – a discussion of reds and whites that unfolds like origami into a complex tapestry of political issues, personal conflicts and that point in a maturing relationship with one’s parent when such conversations can be had. You wonder how it would play out as a longer film.
Director: Richard John Seymour
Runtime: 18 mins
One of the longest of the bunch, Richard John Seymour’s documentary takes us on a tour of where the objects we consider commonplace come from. Fields, pipes, crates, rocks and tankards, we see all the aspects of the Chinese factories that produce the things we consume without a second thought to the work and the people that go into producing them. One worker narrates this globalised, commodified existence of individuals. Are they the ones consumed by our habits? Or are we the ones consumed in our own self-absorbed world? This is perhaps the least immediately gripping of the BAFTA nominees, but it’s an eye-opening watch.
Director: Daniel Mulloy
Runtime: 19 mins
“Did you remember the Revels?” That’s how Daniel Mulloy’s stunning, provocative, important short film begins – not with a bang, but the gentle whisper of mundanity, as a family prepare to go on a trip to somewhere the parents promise their kids will be a nice place that will keep them happy and entertained. From the opening title, though, it soon becomes apparent that their journey into Europe is far from simple, and what follows is a witty subversion of the normal narrative we’re used to seeing, one that captures the unavoidable horrors of relocating from one country to another at a time when borders around the world are more closed to foreigners than ever. The fantastic Holliday Grainger and the ever-charismatic Jack O’Connell guide us through the urgent adventure with a calm confidence that, every now and then, briefly plunges into anger and fear. It’s only 19 minutes long, but Home packs one heck of a punch.
All of the 2017 BAFTA nominated short films are available to watch at www.curzonhomecinema.com