Andre Simonoveisz casts a critical eye on the latest crop of feature and documentary shorts to emerge from Britain’s most respected film schools to reveal a fresh crop of talent in the filmmakers of the future
The Arts University Bournemouth (AUB) is Britain’s Oxbridge of film schools, the students come not only from the UK, but from Europe, Asia and even the USA. All their graduation films are shown every year to a full house at the NFT1. This year’s crop of thirteen films shows an amazing width of talent and it is fair to say that the majority of the productions are certainly not lacking full professional status.
Highlight of the documentary section was ARTIFICIAL SUNSHINE, a portrait of Blackpool, comparing the seaside resort today with the images of the ’60s. Director Conor Rollins and DoP Louis Hollis contrast the family-orientated holiday atmosphere of fifty years ago with the rather seedy and overly commercial aspects of the present. The nightly scenes in garishly lit streets are captured with intensity; the old amusement arcades look very dated in contrast with today’s electronic offerings, ARTIFICIAL SUNSHINE is an astute picture of how radical change has effected the resort – and not for the better.
A special mention should go CRICKLAND, a portrait of the oldest pub in Bournemouth. Director and PoP Rebecca Richards deserves every praise, since her original project, featuring an eccentric gardener in Berlin, was called off at the last minute. CRICKLAND is a very humane and touching study of how the patrons try their very best to overcome adversity as a united force.
The two outstanding feature shorts could not have been more different: SPECTRUM is a minimalist but engrossing study of mental illness, whilst LISTEN UP EMILY tries to emulate Hollywood’s best musicals – on a shoe-string budget. SPECTRUM, directed by Lewis Logan, centres around Chris (John Seward), who is leaving his mother Jackie (Lin Clifton) and sister Charlotte (Francesca Regis) at home to fly to Mars. At least that is what he tells the two women. Whilst his mother occupies herself, watering and pruning her flowers, Charlotte plays a hilarious game with her brother, both pretending to be birds. The surprising finale features the men in white coats arriving and we see him sitting in the car: miles away, he could be really going to Mars. DoP and co-writer Sam Meyer find all the right little nuances to make SPECTRUM a small but shining gem.
LISTEN UP EMILY is a fairy tale in which writer/director Milo Cremer Eindhoven’s heroine Emily (Sarah Swire) escapes her own wedding into the world of ’50s Paris, meeting her own Gene (Dan Burton). We first meet Emily and her father in a house adjacent to the church, where she has fled her own wedding seconds before the fatal ‘Yes’. Talking to her father makes her indecision not better, and she is at first only too happy to literally stumble into a Paris of the ’50s meeting Gene, who dances her off her feet. Quoting Bringing up Baby as well as An American in Paris, the director gives us more than subtle dose of nostalgia, so much so that Emily, miraculously brought back to the church and the altar, has found the courage to say ‘No’ to the puzzled groom – before dancing out of the church. PDs Becky Millward and Lottie Geliot recreate the Paris of the mid 20th century with great imagination, making up for the sparse budget. DoP Leon Pyszora conjures up two different worlds with his imaginative lighting: the huge church is cold and sterile, the faces of the wedding guests white, everything seems frozen. Paris on the other hand, is full of sunny colours, the streetlights giving a particular glow, making Emily into a proper princess on the run. LISTEN UP EMILY is a joyous trip into the cinematographically past.
After such a richness of young talent, we can only hope that it filters through into the productions of tomorrow. AS