Those of you who have better memories than my own will know that Dead By Dawn isn’t just about the great selection of feature films. Oh no. There are also many shorts to be enjoyed. The short films come in all different shapes and sizes (there were even a few this year put together in a slot that was entitled “Long Shorts”) and you should always endeavour to catch a great selection of short films whenever you can for three main reasons. 1) They often give you a heads up on people about to make bigger names for themselves. 2) IF you dislike one then it’s not as if you have wasted three hours of your life. 3)Many short films given a rare outing on the big screen are superb.
Here is the full list of shorts from the festival this year.
Kidz – A 2 minute short that I can’t say too much about because I don’t want to spoil it. Imagine if Viz decided to make a very brief infomercial to be shown on a children’s television show. Small but perfectly formed. 9/10.
All Flowers In Time – 14 minutes of weirdness from Jonathan Caouette uses the old “red eye” that many of us have suffered from at one point or another (maybe less so with the advancement of digital photography). Chloe Sevigny gets to have some fun with her part but, overall, this is more of an ambitious failure than a successful slice of surreal horror. 4/10.
Hope – Pedro Pires, who also provided the festival last year with the beautiful Danse Macabre, gives us a look at war, pain, death and, as the title would suggest, hope. Very nicely done, 11 minutes well spent. 7/10.
La Migala – Just what is the best way to get over a heartbreaking separation from the one you love? For some there’s a long process involving alcohol and self-abuse. But for the central character of this short it turns out that getting over the pain and fear of separation is best handled by allowing another major fear into his life. 9/10
Cantata In C Major – An exercise in musical interpretation or an exercise in viewer endurance? I am going for the latter, I was very unimpressed by this 8 minute experimental short from Ronnie Cramer. 2/10.
Murderabilia – This 30 minute slice of nastiness from David Matthews looks at the murky world of murder-related collectibles and those who buy and sell them. It’s definitely not without merit but I really didn’t love it. The acting was just okay, the script and cinematography were very good and the core of the piece had potential but, for me, this just didn’t go anywhere worthwhile. 5/10.
The Unliving – Sweden has suffered from an outbreak of zombie-itis but it’s not the end of the world because those zombies can now be modified and made safe to help with menial tasks/jobs such as bartending, carrying home your shopping, etc. But what happens when someone you know, maybe someone you work with or someone you love, is bitten? Is any life at all better than death? And just how much do politicians want a cure to the epidemic when the affected are proving so beneficial to the industry and economy of the nation? These are things that director Hugo Lilja keeps in focus in this impressive 28 minute short. 8/10.
An Evening With My Comatose Mother – Jonathan Martin directs this 33 minute “showreel” that blends some great humour, real spookiness and utter lunacy with aplomb. 8/10.
The Pact – An 11 minute short from Nicholas McCarthy that has already been expanded and developed into a feature. That’s good because what we have here certainly shows potential, and I’m not denying I was on edge a couple of times, but disappoints by not actually giving the audience enough hints at the intriguing backstory. 5/10.
A Function – A 9 minute South Korean film from Hyunsoo Lee that takes the fear you may have felt that time a maths exam was looming and makes it ten times worse. It will make you wince and laugh in equal measure. 8/10.
Ella – Anthony Head stars in 9 minutes of haunting beauty from Dan Gitsham that mixes the mysterious with the surreal to great effect. Not one that everyone will love but it deserves to be seen by more people (as do so many of the shorts showcased at Dead By Dawn every year). 8/10.
Estomago – Camille Achour and Jean Thomas Seite show enormous potential with this 15 minute movie that will call to mind Silent Hill and The Last Man On Earth while proving almost the equal to both. 9/10.
The Coldest Caller – Death comes a calling in this 4 minute “sketch” that takes the standard image of the Grim Reaper (big hooded figure carrying a scythe) and juxtaposes it with a sweet old lady who was expecting someone quite different at her door. 9/10.
Last Christmas – A young boy keeps distracting his grandmother on Christmas Eve but just what is he keeping from her? This 12 minute film from Geoff Redknap is okay but lacks the ingredients to be truly memorable. 6/10.
Play Dead – A standard zombie comedy horror with plenty of action and some decent gore. Oh, the main twist is that this 18 minute slice of fun focuses on the heroic deeds of individually-named dogs. Which elevates this from good to brilliant. 9/10.
Quedate Conmigo – A couple have a big argument/fight with terrible consequences. But some people just can’t bear to be apart from the one they love. 8/10.
Infernal Nuns – A deliriously over the top trailer that calls to mind Grindhouse and Machete. You may have already caught this, it did the rounds online a few weeks ago, but it’s well worth seeking out if you have yet to see it. 7/10.
Bear – Well, you can see a short film called Spider HERE and then all you need to know is that Bear follows on from that film. And is just as good. I’d even say it’s slightly better. Nash Edgerton, brother of Joel, shows that he has a fantastic and warped sense of humour. 9/10.
Bobby Yeah -Perverse, full of creativity and far from dull. Robert Morgan may have created something divisive but you have to admire the melange of ideas on display. 6/10.
Escape From Hellview – 7 minutes of beautiful and scary artwork that will strike a chord with everyone who has ever had a fevered childhood dream involving clowns/the circus. 9/10.
Pork ‘n Bones – Enjoy this delightful animation HERE. Great fun and very cute. 8/10.
Wisdom Teeth – Another fantastic, twisted animation from Don Hertzfeldt that you can see HERE. As funny as it is wince-inducing. 9/10.
Ethereal Chrysalis – Director Syl Disjonk creates a fantastic piece of surrealism in this 10 minute film that you will either probably love or hate. A friend of mine, quite rightly, mentioned MirrorMask but I feel that the world is easily big enough for, and will benefit from, more than one slice of such
The External World (pictured) – You lucky lucky people can watch this HERE and I hope you all love it as much as I did. I don’t need to say any more, just watch it and love it. And watch it again to catch the gags and references you missed the first time around. 10/10.
And, for now, that’s your lot. I hope that short film fans try to check out many of these titles and I hope that others use this selection as a stepping stone into the wonderful world of the short film format.