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I normally see the Bridging the Gap short films at the Edinburgh Film Festival, so it was a little odd to see them in Inverness. This year’s theme was ‘rebellion’ apparently, which I’m not actually that sold on as a theme for the films. Looking at the piece I wrote last time I saw a full ‘Bridging the Gap’ screening, it appears that they normally assign the theme first – as the scheme provides new Scottish/based-in-Scotland film-makers with not only funding, but training and support as well – and on that basis I’m not sure that they fulfilled the brief very well. There are some quite nice little documentaries in the selection but none that really blew me away. There’s certainly nothing to compare to Pouters and Polaris from that last time. (Oddly enough I’ve since seen Polaris again since then twice at other short film screenings and I’m never disappointed to re-watch it.)

Far and away the funniest film of the screening. Oddly enough it’s a kind of documentary that I usually hate, in which the director is making a film about some issue or other that they are a little obsessed about and talking to us via the voiceover. They’re usually either terribly worthy or terribly cringey. However, thankfully this one was an exception. I loved the conceit of filming the interview subjects’ mouths so that we focus on their teeth. Perhaps because I have had a difficult relationship with my own teeth and the dentistry industry. (My teeth were fine until I got my first wisdom tooth at fifteen, and it was all downhill from there.) Maybe because it didn’t take its subject matter too seriously and was genuinely funny in its tone. I’ve felt his pain, and so, wincing in sympathy, I laughed with him.

This was the best film of the bunch I think. Apart from some weird arty shots of tadpoles and frogspawn at the start, it was a beautifully shot and perfectly pitched in tone film. It’s about grief and recovery and resilience. It helps that its central character has one of those really compelling voices; he’s lived an interesting life and can express himself well when he’s talking about it. One of those people that if you ended up talking to him on a train, you’d gladly go an extra couple of stops to keep talking to. It’s a subtle and very moving film, highly recommended.

We Are Here
An odd but charming film. It’s a film about friendship and about reconnecting with your best friend as an adult. In this case because the director’s best friend, Stuart, had an accident a couple of years ago and is recovering from a traumatic brain injury. It’s about memory and identity and living in the moment. This fascinating central concept that they agree on that this person is not who he was before the accident, that he’d never be that person again and that that’s fine. That they can still be best friends not just despite that, but also partially because of it.

There’s something missing from this film that I can’t quite put my finger on. Perhaps its just a feeling that there’s a question the director isn’t asking, that he would be asking if his subject wasn’t his childhood best friend. Regardless of this, I liked the film.

Plastic Man
This is a beautifully shot film and its central character is both odd and compelling – I can completely understand why someone would want to make a film about him. However, I came away from the film unsure about what it is he’s actually doing or for that matter what the film is trying to say about it.

Hold is an odd film. It’s about absence and loving someone who isn’t there. In this case because they’re in prison. From what little we learn its presumably white-collar crime – theft, a nine-year sentence, they’re very middle-class – and there’s a kind of naiveté about the whole thing. It’s weird that the little girl in the film seems more practical and accepting of reality – this is how our lives are now – than her mother. Her mother is the one who has, by her own admission, built a fantasy/fiction around the whole situation.

Only My Voice
This is a film about refugee women in Greece. Some of them we never see and the ones we do, we only see in fragments, as though to actively prevent us from drawing conclusions about them and their lives from their faces. This film also has some glorious sound design moments, taking the woman’s voices and playing with them and their context. It’s an interesting concept and is probably the film that best adheres to the theme of rebellion. Almost all the women talk about the way that coming to Greece has both extended and limited their freedom.