Review: Kino Short’s independent North West film screenings
When you’re looking for film reviews to read you’ll probably find your eyes dart to the latest Hollywood remakes and revamps and big-budget blockbusters, but something creative and, in its own way, genius often slips through the net.
Short independent films are often made to an extremely tight budget (or in some case no budget at all) and under the crimpling pressure of an unyielding time scale. Because of this, they have the added task that feature length films so not…they have to entertain or convey their message in a limited time frame, which is tricky to say the least.
Having an interest in film, I went along to one of KinoFilm’s monthly Kino Shorts networking and screening events at the Three Minute Theatre in Manchester, showcasing the best in amateur to experienced filmmakers’ work from around the North West.
During the interval that broke up the eight showings of short films, it was immediately clear from the fervent atmosphere that I had stumbled upon a hive of like-minded and inspiring individuals, keen to make their mark in the film industry. Some, who had quite a few short indie films under their belt, discussed their latest work and knew each other well, whilst less experienced scriptwriters, camera operators, editors and directors asked for tips and advice as they mingled. Quite simply, it was a thriving artistic community, a hub of filmic visionaries, united in the struggle of sleepless nights fuelled by Red Bull and infused with passion to make their innovative film ideas a reality.
The Q&A’s with architects behind the films that were shown, plus the actors who starred in them, were informative and revealing, really getting under the skin of the making of the film and giving those in attendance that exclusive “behind the scenes” feel. Without a huge budget to back you up, improvisation and the ability to adapt to surprise situations when life throws you a curve ball is key to making a short low budget film. Darren Langlands, who was at the helm of the last film that was shown, I Alone, and writer and producer, Mark Callum illustrated this when they explained that the actor originally intended to star in I Alone broke his foot two days before filming was scheduled to go ahead, resulting in Mark Callum doubling up as the actor too.
As for the films that were shown, “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get,” to quote the infamous line from one of the best films ever made, is wholly applicable to a Kino Shorts night. Diversity in the genres of films screened helped keep the pace of the night upbeat and ensured the event flowed with entertaining ease. Portrait documentary from director, writer and producer, Fraser Cottrell, Rebekah resonated with me as I have seen the subject on which the film is based, a young artist whose hyper-realism sketches are famous in Manchester as she draws her impressive work on the city’s high streets. The documentary explored Rebekah’s remarkable journey from being self-taught to now living her dream well, really peeling back the layers of her art, but maybe could have done with hearing from a few more voices who have helped Rebekah along her way to achieving her goals, as the film was dominated by Rebekah’s voice.
My Love (directed and written by Kenneth James, produced by Richard Addlese) really tugged at the heart strings, depicting the tale of a young couple at the dawn of their romance through the trials and obstacles that, in the end, tore them apart. The narration of the man in the relationship was poignant and powerful, turning the typical and tragic cancer story on its head, focusing on the loved one as the victim and not the cancer sufferer. The film was shot beautifully as well, making use of Manchester and Salford’s best locations and employing symbolism, such as him tossing their wedding ring into the Quay’s depths, to convey his feelings and moving on.
Kevin Hiley and John Isles’ brainchild, Shuttle To Save The World was definitely the most memorable and easily the most laugh-out-loud film of the evening. Filmed in vintage black and white, it emulated the style of the original Doctor Whos, serving as a bittersweet nod to the matinees that were shown in the afternoon back in the 60’s when they screened short cliff-hanger series’ like “Flash Gordon” before the main feature.
Angel Snow, directed by Michael Thompson and Nigel J Anderson was as hard-hitting as it was gritty and gruff with captivating acting portraying Salford’s daily grime, quality mise en scene and a rocky sound track to successfully tell the tale of a desperate mother trying to keep her wayward son on the straight and narrow, fighting influences close to home.
Empty Space was a great testament to director/writer and producer, Philip J Coleman and his crew’s creative talents as they built the entire set of an escape pod from scratch, from which the plot centring on two lovers who leave the planet in the pod as a ferocious battle rages on, is played out. The dynamic range of this film’s score deserves a nod too, as the quiet and muffled sound allows the visuals to speak for themselves and portray the characters’ relationship.
Made in just three days for the Reed Competition, director Chris Cronin’s Peter cleverly dropped subtle references to the infamous fairy-tale of Peter Pan, only for the film’s writer, Paul Thomas’ script to actually hint at the forgotten original, more sinister story of Peter Pan, where it is implied the hero may have killed the Lost Boys. The result was a compelling horror that drew the audience in and left them hungry for more.
Chris Cronin’s other film, Unkillable, also penned by Paul Thomas was an interesting concept with visually pleasing cinematography but would have benefitted from being longer I think, as it did not quite work being just eight minutes long, with a few far-fetched plot jumps. However the final twenty minute cut is out this summer.
I Alone ended the night on a high, with its incredibly slow pace having an almost irritable effect on me as a viewer but worked brilliantly achieving its aim of provoking thoughts within the audience’s minds of what life would be like when confronted with no power or electricity. It accumulated in a hilarious surprise twist at the end making future Kino Shorts events ones to look forward to in my filmic diary!