“It’s clear that talent is plentiful and promising”
Although short films may not receive the vast support that feature films do, in the filmmaking world it is a right of passage. Most filmmakers start their careers with short films, some may progress to features whereas others prefer the micro-specific perspective that shorts offer. Crafting a story arc or an exciting snapshot in under 15 minutes is a skill of structure and storytelling that informs more about the talent of a filmmaker than most features. Regarding the short films on offer at Cell Adore Film Festival, it’s clear that talent is plentiful and promising.
Cell Adore Film Festival is running over the weekend of 10-12 April and it’s hosted entirely online. Showcasing an array of short films, the festival platforms veterans and newcomers in the shorts scene. Indulging in topics of romance, drama, horror, sci-fi and comedy, there is a film for everyone. In honour of the micro-fashion of short films, here are mini reviews for each film on offer at this festival.
LET HER RIP; written and directed by Micky Wozny
The social faux pas of passing wind in public is, in itself, a mini horror that plagues us all. This relatable claymation-animation is a hilarious look at the internal drama and external judgement that comes from having an awkwardly timed digestive issue. The animation is vibrant and playful, which perfectly matches the tone of this delightfully odd short, which shows the importance of releasing the inner turmoil of shame and, well, gas.
BILL; written and directed by Dan Gitsham and Sophie Mair
The dark arts are released upon the film festival with this snappy horror. Bill is a creepy insight to the dangers of holding onto grief and trying to defeat the natural with the supernatural. The tale of a distraught relative calling for the spirit of their deceased loved one may not be a unique story, but the direction and design of this short certainly gives an exciting new look. Utilising intense sound design with unnerving direction and makeup work, this film may be short but it’s certainly not sweet, and it will haunt viewers for longer than most high budget Hollywood horrors.
THE DRIVE; written by Adam Thomas Wright, directed by Tom Carty and Adam Thomas Wright
An emotional journey exploring the relationship between a father and son, specifically looking at the cruelness of dementia. Anyone with experience of watching the mind of a loved one slip away will intimately know the feeling of grieving someone who is physically still with us and the isolation of being forgotten. Although the production of this short is a little rough and includes some peculiar sound design choices, the general direction and story is touching and heartfelt. Demonstrating both the warmth of memories and the coldness of reality, The Drive is an intimate portrayal of family and grief.
ONLY LOOKING FORWARD; Written and directed by Shaun Stone-Riley
A chaotic and stylish short that punches the audience in the face. Exploring themes of anger and toxic masculinity, our protagonist narrates an odd and hectic array of events with no discernible distinction between reality and fantasy. With punchy edits reminiscent of the style of Edgar Wright, this rollercoaster of rage is thoroughly entertaining and will absolutely remind you of the weird drunk guy in the pub boasting about all his “hard-man” fights.
CLEMENTINES; Written by Frankie Meredith and directed by Laurie Barraclough
Clementines brings two step-sisters back together following a wake. Delicately tender and intimate, the relationship between these two is slowly teased out throughout the short and is done in such a way that we are able to feel the history between them. The film boasts a majority female crew behind camera and the framing of these sisters and their relationship demonstrates this eye.
ROAD TRIP; Written by Michael Bray and directed by Ronald J. Wright
An apocalypse film grounded in reality, despite the less-so realistic addition of zombies. Road Trip shows an average family travelling across country to a scenic seaside location – however despite the seemingly cheerful action, the entire journey is tainted by a feeling of dread and stress. Initially only hinting at an unusually dark tone for a family holiday, the short slowly reveals the true cause for concern. Displaying heart and real misery, this short gives a new perspective to zombie films.
MAX; directed by Micky Wozny
Another animation from Wozny, this sweet and heartfelt film is very different from Let Her Rip. Max portrays the loving relationship between an owner and their dog and the heart-wrenching pain of growing up and facing their inevitable death. This short wins the prize of making me tear up in under 20 seconds. Minimalist yet filled with emotion, Max is equal parts a delight and emotionally distressing.
PERCENTILE; written and directed by Harry Tye
Set in a world where a deadly sickness is spreading fast and only the rich are allowed a cure, Percentile showcases the desperate struggle for those who can’t rely on treatment and must fend for themselves. Our protagonist’s story cuts between different locations as the story is filled out, and we see the fight to find a cure paralleled against a literal fight to survive. Mostly filmed in a beautiful winter forest, the environment is effectively used to demonstrate the brutality of this world.
LOVE BIRDS; written by Jordan John and directed by Emma Robson
Quirky, peculiar and all too surreal, Love Birds portrays the oddity of dating culture. A man finally has the opportunity to meet a woman he’s been chatting with online, only this face to face encounter isn’t quite as face to face as he’d hoped. Throughout the date, the woman wears a large comical mask and mimes most of her dialogue, seemingly refusing to allow her date from getting to know the real her. This absurd short is oddly endearing and will likely leave audiences cackling.
SCRABLE; written and directed by Anthony Hett
A lovely and attentive look into a relationship with dementia. Following a laundromat owner and his forgetful helper and friend, this short is a soft and sweet snapshot into a day of their lives. Delicately acted and thoughtfully written, Scrable is a heartfelt story and a fully wholesome and heartwarming experience.
PETE; written and directed by Jonathan Hawes
Darkly hilarious and shocking, Pete follows a couple after the death of their pet. I know, I know – that doesn’t sound funny but seriously, watch it and you will see. Pete tows the line between heartfelt and bonkers perfectly, and it’s sure to get anyone cackling along.
OUT ON A LIMB; Dir. James Joel Dan
Out On A Limb is an inspiring documentary showcasing winter sports for wheelchair users. The short follows three men who routinely ski down mountains, re-defining the stereotypical expectations for people who are disabled. Director, James Joel Dan, says they wanted the documentary to show that “no matter the limitations of someone’s physicality, there is always a way to adapt, learn and persevere in order to achieve your goals”.
WHEN WE WERE FOXES; written and directed by Anthony Hett
One of the shorter short films on the schedule, this story is unique in that it’s a poem put to film. Exploring the animalistic nature of desire, we see heartbreak unfold as our protagonist watches a past lover from afar with their new partner. Stylish and sweet, the pain of lost love is shown beautifully.
SEE YOU AGAIN; written and directed by Jayne Slater
Tender and gut-wrenching, See You Again explores pending grief and a painful goodbye between a mother and her daughter. The mother is given one last chance to see her daughter following a tragic car accident, and their final moments are grounded, real and devastating. Without trespassing on an overly dramatic nature, this short perfectly toes the line of it’s themes and manages to be tear-jerking without the theatrics.
RE-DISPLACEMENT; written and directed by Lewis Coates
Sleek and stylish, this modern sci-fi tale is brilliantly directed. Opening on a patient during an experimental procedure to explore his past traumas, we follow him as he tries to piece together fragments of his forgotten memories, while trying to decipher which are real and which can’t be trusted. A riveting story with acting that matches the elevated production, this film is mind-boggling, enticing and insightful.
Cell Adore Film Festival runs from 10-12 April, is online and completely free. Tickets are available here.