OK gang, so recently I was a judge for the Beneath the Earth Film Festival, which showcased short films by up-and-comers looking to prove their stuff. Of the seven films screened, I particularly enjoyed three and felt another three showed real promise (only one completely irritated me, but it shall remain nameless), and I was happy to have participated. Four of the films won for the various categories, but I'd like to briefly highlight the two big winners for Best Film and Audience Award:
Best Film: Photographs
I was extremely pleased to see this film win, though I can't conceive of how it couldn't. A brief, beautifully animated vignette of an old woman discovering a camera that doesn't seem all that much younger than her, Photographs is superb. Its wordless six minutes doesn't waste a second, yet the film takes its time in revealing the significance of the woman's innocent self-portraits. But even without the heartbreaking finale, Photographs is still a moving testament to the childlike properties that art instills in us and nourishes in even the bleakest, most unforgivingly adult situations.
Audience Award: After Ever After
I confess less enthusiasm for the audience award recipient, even if it's still not my least-favorite of the seven films. After Ever After works as a sort of mashup between the works of Michel Gondry and (500) Days of Summer, only it lacks the innovation and cheek of either. I was also ready to pounce on the occupation of its protagonist, the increasingly stale job of the adman, but reading that the director actually has worked for ad agencies mollified me somewhat. At least he's writing from experience; I feel like Hollywood just acknowledges what it really does when it puts its characters in advertising firms. But even if the film doesn't strike me as original or even remarkable, the aesthetic components are all in place: it displays solid editing, cinematography and direction throughout, which are all the things short films are supposed to hone.