The best thing about the London Film Festival is the fact that budding and diverse talents are given a platform on which to promote themselves to people who otherwise would never hear of them. The short films programme is particularly effective when it comes to showcasing new talents and this week I had the privilege of attending a screening of seven short films all dealing with the theme of characters “Under Pressure.” In each scenario the protagonist had to deal with unexpected diversity and do what would be considered morally correct. The films were as follows:
Faster!: A chicago bike messenger desperate for cash has the chance to rip off a blind man and takes it. A moving glimpse at the separation financial hardship can create and the lengths people will go to for their own survival.
E-Pigs (pictured): A curious tale about a couple of farmers who find themselves the proud owners of a litter of cyber-piglets. The almost biblical-looking villagers are less than impressed by this strange, new abomination. A creative idea that keeps the audience guessing.
Bedford Park Boulevard: A young school boy is under pressure at school from teachers who know he’s up to no good. An emotional look at how young people feel persecuted by adult institutions.
Incorporated:A new employee to the banking biz wrestles with a plethora of moral decisions as he finds out what life in the city is really all about. Excellently executed one man versus corporation narrative.
Dock Ellis and the LSD No-No: A quirky animation charting the famous LSD no-hitter by baseball legend Dock Ellis. Aparently the drugs do work.
All The Way Up: Directed by Sir David Jason himself this short film looks at what might happen if your conscience ambushed by your own conscience in a lift. Will our hero take the lift all the way up to the hotel room and have an affair or will he go home to his wife?
The Legend of Beaver Dam: Nerdy summer-camper Danny Zigwitz pits himself against an evil monster, the legendary Stumpy Sam, to save his friends. An innovative horror musical.
Although all of these films were captivating in their own way two of the pieces, Incorporated and The Legend of Beaver Dam, really stood out with The Legend of Beaver Dam just sliding into first place as my favourite. Pitching itself firmly in the comedy-horror vein The Legend of Beaver Dam is the kind of thing you’d expect Sam Raimi or Peter Jackson to have come out with when they were first starting out. The audience is left with the unshakeable question about what directors Jerome Sable and Eli Batalion could deliver if they got their hands on a full-length feature opportunity. Off the top of my head I’d say they could definitely produce something more inspiring, engaging and creative than Spiderman 2 or 3 but I’m not sure that this statement only applies to them.
Unsurprisingly The Legend of Beaver Dam is winning short film awards for Best Short Film left, right and centre and here’s why: their offbeat little adventure not only entertains and surprises but surreptitiously satires the homogenised High School Musical representation of growing up in America. The summer camp-fire was the perfect setting given its all-American connotations and the film’s amusing use of nerd wish-fulfillment subtlely harks back to eighties high school films in which, of course, the myths of teen outcasts being able to achieve happiness and acceptance really took hold. In short it’s a smart, sharp film that does a lot for the audience in its 12 minutes running time and its, more-than-likely, modest budget. See it or Stumpy Sam will get you.