Nation your nation by Frederick Kelly

Nation your nation is entirely filmed in black-and-white. The only colour that can be seen throughout is the beautiful light hazel brown eyes of the actor in the role of the lady taking the citizen test.

The filming of this short film in black-and-white to me was very clever and poignant to the subject matter as you watched this lady taking the Citizens test and in a very stark and uncomfortable room you can understand that the black and white questions reflect the black and white surroundings that she is placed in during the time.

There were at times moments when the interviewer and interviewee came into close contact. However, these moments appeared in more of a dreamlike state from the actor being interviewed as she grounded herself.

The questions used in the short clips that were heard are taken from the actual sample papers that can be found online. After looking at some as a UK citizen I am not sure I would have passed.

Kelly has chosen an interesting and unusual topic to create his short film. Although it is one which was worth seeing through the eyes of somebody taking the rest and how daunting the whole procedure can be.

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Dinner with Mum by Daniel Harding.

Daniel Hardings latest short film Dinner with Mum is an interesting look at how somebody’s view of the world changes as their dementia takes over their view of themselves and their families.

From the moment Mum played by Meryl Griffiths opens the door to her daughter who has come round for lunch it all appears to be a perfectly normal family occasion up. However, as you watched the plot unfold in this very intense six-minute production you watch as Mum really struggles. The changes are gradual and the world seems to be happening to her rather than her being part of it

Harding once again proves to be very clever in understanding human beings and picking exactly the right actors to perform in his films.

This very emotionally fuelled short film during the questions and answers section of the the evening heard a couple of members of the audience admitting to actually being in tears as they watch the performance unfold in front of them and although I wasn’t in tears I was exceptionally moved by how intense Griffiths plays her role as Mum passion and realistic conviction.

The ageing process that takes place before your eyes and without realising until the end just how much older Mum has become was astounding. This whole process was created by makeup artist Brittany Jamison-Lackey. The results are absolutely incredible.

There were suggestions on the night from various audience members that this would be the perfect piece to actually use to raise awareness about how dementia affects the person who has the disease rather than the family around them which is usually the focus.

Actually looking at it through the eyes of the person was very clever and it was done extremely sensitively I always felt very empathic with Mum rather than feeling sorry for her and were in tune with what she was seeing. By the end where she sees her daughter as a totally different person highlighted just how far she had actually reached in losing a vital part of her memory bank.

I can now see why this short film was chosen for the film festival and why it’s been chosen in various other film festivals in the country it certainly deserves to be recognised. Huge congratulations to the cast and the director for dealing with such an emotional and difficult subject with sensitivity.

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Under the Radar by Jonathon Crewe.

Under the radar by Jonathan Crewe has been a very challenging review to write with spoilers at every twist and turn during the play it makes a critics job very hard working out what to leave in and what to keep out.

Emotionally fuelled and challenging to watch. Crewe has written a multi-layered and very complex play. Dealing with misogyny, sexist attitudes and male toxic behaviour. Written very much in the wake of the #MeToo campaign and highlighting an important issue to be raised in the public domain.

As they delve to the depths of the ocean in the hand-built submarine it questions human beings behaviour once they believe that they are actually under the radar and that nobody else can see what they are getting up to.

The submarine named UC3-Eden which Captain Martin Christensen (Nicholas Anscombe) has built lures journalist Lee ( Eleanor Hill) to spend 48 hours or thereabouts in his submarine to get an exclusive scoop on how and why he created it and what he intends to do with it on the maiden voyage for her article in Time Magazine.

Hill’s performance as Lee is outstanding her entire performance has you kept on the edge of your seat. It is very rare to find an actor with as much presence and ability as she has while commanding the entire stage. I thoroughly recommend going to see this production purely to watch her drive the Captain to absolute distraction.

There are many uncomfortable scenes throughout the play and prepare to be shifted out of your comfort zone as it does exactly what good theatre should do and makes you question what you have just watched.

Director and writer Crewe has really had his work cut out bringing this production to the stage as there are so many themes and so much going on underneath the radar of this play that drawing it all together I believe would have been an incredibly powerful challenge.

Four Stars

Please find cast details using the link below.

https://www.jonathoncrewe.com/

For tickets please use the link below.

http://www.breadandrosestheatre.co.uk

I Grew a Statue directed by Aaron Arens.

An extremely complex and clever film. At first, you are introduced to what appears to be a case of adultery. However, you soon discover this film is multi-layered and absolutely nothing is what it seems.

The close-up camera shots of their naked bodies and highlighting the details at first appears to be a bit sleazy and are there for the sake of it. However, it’s that attention to detail that is of the utmost importance to this film.

The reactions from the husband when he firsts find his wife with the other man is ambiguous and uncharacteristic of the situation where you would expect to catch sight of some anger or rage, and there is nothing and it is not clear until the end why he had not responded in that manner.

Director Aaron Arens pulled the entire story together and the clues throughout the film all merge allowing you to fully understand why certain things happen that didn’t seem to be true.

This is one of the few short films I saw that I would like to watch again and see the parts I missed on my first viewing. This was my clear favourite of the nights chosen film selection although they were all very different.

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Committed directed by Lee Gilat.

Based in Israel the storyline in this short film targets mental health issues which break through all the language barriers. How does a family regardless of race, creed or colour make difficult decisions about the safety and future of a loved one? Compassion and love is a universal language as this heartfelt short film demonstrates.

When the patient in question is your parent how do you make a decision to have them committed? The sisters begin in a “good cop bad cop” scenario with the good cop ending up as the one who makes the final word count.

One technique used during filming is a lot of close-up camera work going which is very effective as you see the close-ups of the actor’s features, facial expressions, the anguish, the hurt and the brutality that goes on within the dynamics between the two sisters and the father and his long-suffering neighbours.

The manner in which this film is set deals with a man with manic depression. You are then witnessing to moments where he is very high and extremely happy to the rapid descent into incredibly low points, while he’s spitting and swearing and being thoroughly unpleasant to both of his daughters.

The subtitled film as an English speaking audience member is very powerful you focused on the body language of the two girls and their father rather than the distraction of listening.

Overall this particular short film would have enough of a storyline to be able to develop it further. There could have been more of the father’s backstory and whether there are other family members who have been committed or suffering/suffered from manic depression similarly to him.

Lee Gilat has looked into the darker side of family relationships with empathy and a great deal of consideration. Definitely a short film to be proud of.

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Stalker directed by Christopher Andrews.

Stalker is set in the wild Scottish Highlands where the terrain is rough and the weather is wet, wild and very stormy. A rugged landscape setting for this intense short film.

The older stalker is the main protagonist throughout the film and he has made it his mission to try and catch the younger poacher who as we clearly see is cutting off the stags heads only for their antlers.

The majestic Stags that the Stalker is trying to protect are handsome creatures and saving them despite his own ageing health and his depleting eyesight is all that’s important to this man and being able to preserve them at any cost.

Most of this film doesn’t have any dialogue, just very well scripted natural sounds in that environment. The conversations that do take place between the characters are short and predominantly matter of fact.

The one thing that works incredibly well within this short film is the fact that you can feel the atmosphere from the perspective of the stalker when he’s walking through the forest as you hear the branches crack and you see movement ahead.

Christopher Andrews captures the raw beauty of the landscape and the Stags through the protagonist’s eyes. Towards the end, as his eyesight fails we see the blurred images that anyone suffering from his condition would see. The addition of a couple of scenes that make you jump keeps the audience gripped.

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I’m Listening directed by Katja Korhonen.

I’m listening is set in the demon hours of 3 am in the morning at a radio station, where the host is answering calls from her listeners.

It’s an interesting demographic as each of the listeners who phone up to speak to The Host appears in the kitchen area with her while she is taking their call. Then the next one appears and so on. Making the exchanges taking place more personal.

The penultimate caller who phones in and tells her that it’s the end of the world is an unassuming character who just looks like the lady who could be living next door. The radio host is a similar character who is obviously making a large difference to the community of listeners who tune into her every night and turn to her for advice and somebody who listens to them.

The one very endearing part about this short film is the fact that it could actually be a real situation and that there are radio hosts that work on radio shows every night during those hours who perform a very important service for the people who listen to them and being such an ordinary situation allowed the audience to be able to fully engage with the situation that she was in in.

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