Dave Coates

A day on the other side of the red carpet

Having spent the best part of the last two years sniping from the clocktower of student-level film criticism, it feels apt that I should finish my Nouse career with my features splashed across the silver screen like a rejected Jackson Pollock. This Sunday the University of York Filmmaking Society held a screening of the eleven best short films of this academic year, interspersed with five ‘minishorts’ – enticing vol-au-vents amongst the array of delicious main courses – in front of a noticeably packed house in the plush, cozy atmosphere of York City Screen. The quality of film was impressively high, and I am beside myself with glee that my own Neesonian turn as “Fred” in Geoff Gedroyc’s Scarlett Obsession did not stink up the theatre.

Though the short film format lends itself naturally to comedy, there were moments of surprising emotional power, in particular Daniel Ward’s The Woman and Kate Shenton’s Modern Grim. The latter is deeply atmospheric, Jamie Wilkes’ narration positively Gandalffish over the unflinchingly (and creatively) graphic violence. The most intriguing plotline came in The Woman, as Sophie – a prostitute played with moving delicacy by Niamh Walsh – tries to abandon her life on the street: the film takes an unexpected turn toward the fantastic as Sophie becomes haunted by a mysterious woman who appears to be her doppelganger. Faced with continuous emotional and physical abuse, her options become increasingly desperate. She resolves to take the stranger’s life for herself. After another shocking twist, the film ends in a satisfyingly balanced pose, leaving several questions tantalisingly unanswered.

Further satisfying poses were feted by the comedy shorts, not least in Jay Foreman’s hilarious music video for “Stealing Food”, a Keatsian ode to ‘gastronomic kleptomania’ that features the zenith of all rhyming couplets: “Food is so much more delicious / If my friends are all suspicious.” Foreman’s comedy acting is clearly on a par with his writing, and his willingness to eat anything in service of comedy is commendable. The next biggest laughs were afforded to Alice Cox’s The 2012 Olympic Logo and its power to change the lives of those who encounter, and James Duckworth’s harassed writer in a music video for his song “Threshold”.

Happily, a DVD of all these films be available from Your:Shop in Week 10.

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