NFF REVIEW: ‘British Mix Vol. 1’ Strand

The Norwich Film Festival’s British Mix Volume One strand showcases British talent currently working on short film projects: from the emotional story of a boy reading a eulogy at his father’s funeral to the charming coming-of-age tale of a young girl forming an unlikely friendship. The following is a review round up of the eight short films featured in this particular programming strand.

A girl in school uniform stands in a messy boxing gym, starring nervously at something off screen. From '3 Minutes of Silence'
Still from 3 Minutes of Silence

3 Minutes of SilenceDir. Ben Price

Starring Game of Thrones’ Bella Ramsey in a wonderful, understated performance, this sweet little film sees a lonely schoolgirl strike a friendship with the daughter of a boxing coach. The Northern setting feels alive through its production design and cinematography, complete with muggy weather, sweaty boxing gyms and thick accents. The lack of conflict won’t fully grab your attention, but the performances and hopeful character arcs will.

A row of different women sat on a bench inside a dark community centre, all wearing name badges. From 'Anna'
Still from Anna

AnnaDir. Dekel Berenson

This beautifully shot film set in Ukraine explores loneliness and the treatment of women in society. The titular Anna is a 45-year old woman- working in a meat factory, raising a teenage daughter and looking for love within her dull life. Each shot is magnificently composed which makes each frame a delight to look at but also gives room for the cast to breathe and give great performances. With a steady mix of brutally honest critiques on love and hope for a better life, the abrupt ending is effective but might not sit well with some viewers.

A woman in a checkered blue top and yellow shorts kneels on the ground balancing a brown shoe on her head. In the background is a chorus of dancers in yellow work uniforms. From 'Cinderella Games'.
Still from Cinderella Games

Cinderella GamesDir. Jessica Wright

An interesting take on the classic fairytale, Cinderella Games, sees contestants in an absurd game show battling to prove they are the real Cinderella through dance. Performed by the English National Ballet and shot in the Royal Albert Hall, the choreography and performances shine in the dazzling locations. The visual feast doesn’t stop there, with gorgeous colours on display through the production design and costumes. Although lacking in the narrative department, the visuals will surely lead audiences to a happy ending.

A black and white image of a mirror- in the reflection a young boy in a suit stands before his father, and in the distance the boy's mother. From 'Dad Was'
Still from Dad Was

Dad WasDir. Barnaby Blackburn

A surprise gem of a film and one of the best in this strand. Featuring lovely black and white cinematography, Dad Was, follows a young boy tasked with delivering a eulogy at his father’s funeral. With his father present in the distance during every scene, it shows signs of a predictable story ahead but then the script plays its hand and shows how strong and effective the writing actually is. Bolstered by a strong performance from its young lead, Dad Was is a film you cannot miss.

A service station cashier behind the checkout and an elderly customer both glance to their sides at something off screen. From 'Lucky Break'
Still from Lucky Break

Lucky BreakDir. John Addis

A dark comedic thriller that unfortunately doesn’t muster many laughs. A bored service station worker has to deal with a suspicious customer and soon enough, the situation builds towards and absurd ending. Jessye Romeo gives a fun performance in the lead role but after gags that stretch on for far too long and not-so-convincing performances from the rest of the cast, it just wasn’t enough. This would have worked better at half the runtime.

A middle-aged homeless man sits against a pillar in front of the large windows of an office building. To the side stands a security guard in high vis. From 'Pavement'
Still from Pavement

PavementDir. Jason Wingard

Pavement’s interesting concept sees a homeless man, sat outside a bank, whose leg has been swallowed up by the concrete pavement. Even with the absurd plot, the direction given to supporting characters and the choices they make are just ridiculous, tarnishing the meaningful analogy of how society treats the homeless in this country. If only the filmmakers treated the material with more tact, this could have been a much more powerful story.

An elderly snooker player sits in a wooden chair in his empty changing room- holding a snooker cue and a drink. From 'Petrichor'
Still from Petrichor

PetrichorDir. Louis-Jack

Starring not one but two Game of Thrones alumni, Paul Kaye stars as a faded snooker star haunted by his mentor (Clive Russell) and troubled past. Petrichor is a tightly told story in the vein of Whiplash and The Wrestler: exploring the cost of greatness through strong performances and simple but effective storytelling. Some of the imagery is truly striking thanks to great use of lighting and shot composition. Petrichor is deserving of its Best British Film nomination.

A close up of a tensed-up man in a suit looking up towards something. From 'Tick Tick Tick'
Still from Tick Tick Tick

Tick Tick TickDir. Larry Ketang

If the bizarre opening statement from the filmmakers didn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth, the film itself surely will. This black comedy attempts to make commentary on the automated lives office workers lead through an absurd storytelling format revealed in an early twist. Clearly self-indulgent on what it thinks is a genius concept, Tick Tick Tick never draws any laughs and fails to say anything meaningful.

Norwich Film Festival runs throughout November. This year, the festival has moved online to continue to celebrate independent film and support filmmaking. To find out more and view over 150 shorts, head to Norwich Film Festival’s website.

All images courtesy of Norwich Film Festival 2020