The Smalls Best of 2012 Screening & Awards Night: Recap
The Smalls Best of 2012 Screenings and Awards Night praised a part of the film industry that rarely gets celebrated or noted in the way that it should. The short film – when cut, shot and directed as perceptively as these films were – packs an emotional punch often grander than any full-length film could ever hope to achieve. And even better, sometimes they barely need a minute to do so. Documentaries, wordless 1-minute videos, ghosts and chickens make up the nominated short films, each one as unique and inspiring as the next.
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Marc Silver recently won the award for best cinematography in a short film at this year’s Sundance Festival, and it’s easy to see why. The Torch is a poetic journey documenting the year anniversary of the 2011 London riots, ironically coinciding with the Olympic flame processions in London. Narrated by east end resident Jacob, the film encompasses some truly astounding shots of London – at night, burning and reveling in Olympic processions. Amidst these celebrations, the knowledge that Mark Duggan was shot dead by police only a few miles from the Olympic torch procession haunts and illuminates The Torch. Jacob lends a soulful voice to the film, though it was occasionally hard to understand him clearly. But The Torch deserved an honourable mention by The Smalls, if anything because of its brutal subject matter handled with modest sensitivity, so it was awarded the runner-up prize.
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This short-short (1:17 minutes, to be exact) film by Thom Munden, about a young chicken who escapes to London, is simple yet effective. Stephen King once said that brevity makes sweetness, and that’s precisely what this film manages. It was one of our favourites of the night; establishing a wordless, endearing quality without being too showy. Unfortunately, it lacked that extra something to propel it into the winners’ category, possibly because of its unsatisfying ending. It felt like a story that had stopped mid-sentence. Essentially, we were watching a boy run around London in a chicken suit – as endearing and cute as that sounds, it failed to deliver much more than an ‘awww’ reaction. The ending, which could have been unexpectedly sinister, merely seemed pointless. Having said that, the film was incredibly well edited with truly brilliant (and so very sweet) shots contrasting a countryside chicken in the big wide world that is the city of London.
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What a weird and wonderful story. Matthew Hopkins‘ fantastic documentary follows the life of Richard – a piano tuner and homeless wanderluster choosing to live outdoors because of his love of nature, London and the simple things. Part of Hopkins’ England Your England series – a project focused on presenting the powerful stories of real people – Richard’s story is one to admire. A lover of the outdoors, his words ring true and heavy in the ears of its audience; “I don’t need anything to be happy,” says Richard – a humble acknowledgement from a quiescent soul. It’s a shame this film didn’t win, but nevertheless, it’s doubtful that anyone in the room wasn’t in constant awe. Hopkins’ film is a lesson in sharp editing; a sublime 4-minute documentary that needs nothing more, nothing less. Be sure to check out the rest of Hopkins’ poignant short character films via England Your England. We recommend Patrick, the story of an elderly man battling against old age and fighting to remain independant.
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The winner of the Smalls Best. Alfonso Díaz‘s quirky Spanish comedy has the allusion of being a drama but it’s sophisticated humour transcends expectations. Movie maker Jon has closed the auditions for his film, until dark and sensual Olga knocks on the door and seduces, bewitches and mind-boggles Jon to the point of speechlessness. There is a charm to the film that surpasses the other nominated shorts. To a certain extent, it’s a rom-com, or a classic tale of desire. And yet, Díaz takes an admirable risk at the beginning of 2A. For those quick to trash, 2A begins deceptively cheesy. Lines like “I want to be your only drug” or “I want to be your muse, Jon” beg for you to wish this’ll all end quickly. But precisely because 2A feels predictable and sappy at first is exactly the reason its surprising twist lends it a character unlike the other nominees. Díaz proves that body language reads like no other. If 2A had been a silent film it still would have worked, which says a lot for the talented actors and ingenius storytelling.
Friendly Fires – ‘Why Don’t You Answer’: Music Video
In a nightmarish and dream-like sequence, a man (Robert Knighton) is haunted by a beautiful woman who lurks at the back of his mind constantly. Unable to rid himself of this haunting figure, we watch as he grows increasingly more frustrated and mad, from curling up in the corner of his bed willing his insomnia to stop to cradling his head in hands in desperation. It is wholly passionate and deeply upsetting for the protagonist, but an enjoyable watch for anyone interested in an original take on a 21st Century British ghost story. Fred Rowson manages to innovate the traditional elements of a ghost story and deliver some genuine, goosepimply scares that play on your mind long after the music stops. Who’d have thought that ghosts under sheets could still be creepy? A fantastic film to end the evening, with a round of applause for Robert Knighton, who gives the type of raw emotion seen only in the best ghost stories. Now if only this video could be projected onto the back wall of a snazzy bar each time it played…
As the night came to a close, and the protagonist in Fred Rowson’s music video looked out onto a new day, so came the realisation that we had just witnessed the beginning (or the acceleration) of 5 talented filmmaking careers. Each filmmaker proved that it’s the small details that count in any story, some proved that actions speak louder than words. Indeed, a new day dawned for Alfonso Díaz as the winner of The Smalls Best of 2012, receiving promotional packages, a grant and most probably a hefty number of contacts for the future.
The Smalls are currently collaborating with New Look to create a new fashion video that’ll take a look at the world of fashion blogging. If you think you have what it takes, visit their website for more details and to submit your work! Also keep an eye out for The Smalls Film Festival which takes place later this year!