Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Top Picks: Ironstar International Film Festival

The Ironstar International Short Film Festival was recently held in Scotland, at the Dundee Contemporary Arts, with over 60 entries from 14 different countries. Ironstar narrowed down its winners into nine separate categories and the winners were then showcased at the festival, where the audience were given a voting card to determine which would receive the Ironstar film festival audience award. The categories allowed for a wide range of films ranging from horror to experimental to local talent, there were a few real gems amongst them, so here is the top picks and recommendations for Cinemaccess. 

5. Flipped Out
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Animation is always a strong contest for short films opening a wide range in variety of their message and style, Flipped Out provides an excellent example of a very good, stylistic short with a tonne of heart in its story. The film follows an elderly women's flip-phone on the day she receives her first smart phone, it's an undeniably familiar modern tale but told very precisely to a tremendous effect. The film balances a comically dark tone with a very pure sensibility that is reminiscent of Pixar quality shorts.

4. Drone

Drone took the festival's Horror category award and followed two flatmates who have ceased to be friends, essentially, when a strange droning noise begins to send one into a spiral of erratic behaviour. What ensues is a very intelligent and unique story-line with two very strong performances and a satisfying conclusion. Drone takes you down to a frighteningly ground level existence and creates a threat from within that which completely engulfs the environment. For the choice of setting and direction this was a brilliant short film that really used isolation well as a motif. 

3. Fast Eddie
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Fast Eddie is a tremendously heart-warming and inspiring piece of documentary by Grieg Stott and I'm so glad it was made to highlight such a pure human being. Eddie, for those that don't know him, is a local treasure in Dundee, busking in the city centre playing his harmonica , he's a staple of the city's positive image and a big part of the community. It's difficult to see - or rather hear before you see - this man without a smile leaking onto your face because he is an inspiring role model and the film showcases his generosity, his story and struggle and the impressive free spirit that he is. The film isn't perfect and comes across more as a QandA at times but Eddie himself is so interesting in his philosophies and outlook that it's difficult to let that hinder the film. This could absolutely be adapted into a full length feature and I wouldn't be surprised if it did so in the future.

2. Helfa'r Heli/ Catch of the Day

Catch of the Day is a Welsh short and drama that compels and mesmerises in its storytelling, following a couple that live in a wooden house by the sea and their journey of love. Switching between two timelines, their first encounter and their final encounters, the pacing is beautifully mixed with a powerful collage technique effortlessly fusing the love story, the raw emotions present, themes and beautifully mystic environment of Wales into a singular plot. The acting is top tier in Catch of the Day from everyone present, which is harder to come by in a lot of shorts, this film is doing so many things right all at once. Helfa'r Heli evolves into an unpredictably beautiful tale in cinematography that you shouldn't let go unnoticed, demonstrating a masterclass in raw emotional drama with an interesting twist.

1. Infinite

It was an extremely difficult decision arranging this list but after viewing Infinite at the festival I was fairly confident where my audience award vote would land. Directed by Connor O'Hara, Infinite is an impressive and gripping 15 minute short film that packs a genre busting simplicity. Terminally ill, a man decides to have essentially a send-off bonfire with his four closest friends, adding a symbolic twist to the night to mark his existence in the lives of his friends. The sadness isn't simply drawn from the fatality that hangs around the plot, but rather in the performances and emotions of this close group of people. The narrative is about the mark left, not the process of leaving, which becomes somewhat refreshing in a genre that can, at times, rely on death as the narrative end-game you're dreading from the moment you begin to know the main character. Infinite had a noticeably higher production value and filming standard than most entries, other than Catch of the Day and the animation entries. Having already won awards for Best Short Film and Best Director as well as a nomination for Best Score, it really isn't worth missing out on such a strong short film that gives you everything a feature length award winner would provide in a much shorter window. 

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