Belated Glasgow Short Film Festival Review

After I made yesterday’s post, I was looking at the blog and thinking, “I’m sure I wrote about some films I saw at GSFF, but there’s nothing on here.” So I went looking through my drafts and there was a piece, I’d just paused at one point to go and look something up about one of the films I was writing about and never came back to it. The review feels pretty complete without it, and honestly the apathy of never having felt inspired enough to come back to it, does rather fit in with how I felt about the films.

The Glasgow film festival is upon us once again, and last week saw the short film festival make its brief but intense descent on the cinemas of Glasgow. After last year’s epic day of film viewing anything else was always going to feel thoroughly half-hearted, but nonetheless despite being ridiculously busy last weekend, I managed to squeeze in a screening on the Sunday. Annoyingly there were two screenings that I fancied seeing on the Sunday, and naturally they overlapped by 45 minutes (one at the GFT and the other at the CCA – GSFF’s usual home) so I could only go to one. One screening was all Scottish films and the other was from the International Competition. Given the choice I usually go for the International Competition screenings, for the simple reason that I’m less likely to see International shorts other places, whereas Scottish shorts are more likely to turn up other places.

Also you get your own little ballot sheet for the International Competition screenings (audience award ahoy!) and I always get excited about getting to vote on the films, makes me feel more a participant in the festival than a passive viewer. Interactivity – it doesn’t have to be complex!

International Competition 6: Writing on the Body

So unfortunately for me, this sounded like it would be a really interesting screening and didn’t really live up to its promise. Clearly this is a wider issue I have with GSFF of having very different taste in short films to that of the people who programme it. As the curator was there to introduce the films and then a Q&A afterwards and announced it as ‘the strongest selection’ which having seen the films I was a bit dubious about.

The first film did live up to the promise both from the curator and description. It was a short but substantial documentary about a deaf Brazilian man, raising his daughter as a single-parent and living with Aids. It was more about his life and passions than the other elements, defining who he was. Being a single parent, being deaf and being HIV positive were portrayed as complications in his pursuit of the things he loves rather than defining features of that life.

The second film was weird. The description of the film was essentially ‘a couple having sex in a car are interrupted by an army of snails’ and yes, they were but there was a heck of a lot more going on and I’ve no idea what it was. I think it was a riff off the idea of the possessed car brought to life by people having sex in it and exacting a bloody revenge. Except that I’m not sure if the car was trying to attack them or join in to be honest. I’m sure the snails were symbolic, but of what eludes me. The sound design however, was excellent, really effectively weird – so kudos to the sound team.

It probably says bad things about the 3rd and 4th films that reflecting on them a week later as I write this, I couldn’t remember a thing about them until I dug out the rather sparse notes I took at the time. Whatever else can be said about the 2nd and final films, at least I remembered their respective plots even I didn’t particularly enjoy them.

The final film was made no less weird for being based on real events, being a riff off events that did in fact happen – as one of the film-makers attested with wry amusement that suggested she’d explained that it had all seemed terribly normal at the time. It was every bit as surreal and weird as I’ve always suspected private schools really were behind the Enid Blyton gloss…

So overall, while yes they were all tied together by a hyper-awareness of the body with the exception of the first film, the bodies in question didn’t really have very much to say whether as protagonist or canvas.

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