London Short Film Festival: Generation Gap
In Sweden, a single thirty-something woman awkwardly regales her son of her taste for younger men, whilst across the globe a nervous tourist seeks to impress his fun-loving Filipino father by adopting a hard-drinking, chain-smoking teen. These short films zoom in on the tempestuous and at times misguided relationship between generations, the differences between the carefree and the conservative, and the problems caused when the boundaries become blurred.
This collection is screening today at 6:30pm at Regent Street Cinema and you can book your tickets right here!
Tangles and Knots
“An intimate bond between mother and daughter becomes threatened when the mother helps her teenage daughter throw a house party to impress new, more popular friends.”
In Renée Marie Petropoulos’ short film Tangles and Knots, there’s a divide in relationship and consent, all tied into the relationship between a mother and her teenage daughter. Laura (Odessa Young) shares an intimate, playful bond with her mother Michelle (Leeanna Walsman). This includes spending time poolside, cooling each other off by placing ice cubes on their backs and Michelle helping her daughter wax her underarms. When her mom hosts a party for Laura’s friends, their mother-daughter dynamic becomes more heartbreaking and distanced. Laura tells her new peers that her mom pretends they’re sisters in public, not wanting to let go of her poignant youth vanity. It’s not without the clear teenage angst of wishing to seem cool in front of new crowds, but their bond isn’t the only impactful part of Petropoulos’ film.
While we see a unique bond in these two women, there’s a shadow and question at hand about consent and the toxic male archetype. Although not closely focused on the male behavior, the film instead closes in on Michelle’s confused state. It also pays close attention to the way sexual violence and toxic male mentalities are handled in Australia’s social climate. The boundaries of consent in any social setting are not immune to age and this becomes crystallized in Petropoulos’ film as the party begins to wind down and become uncomfortable. Tangles and Knots is a sharp, subtle commentary on sexual preying and generational attachments in ways that are truly felt in Walsman’s acting.
“As a “cougar” awaits a nightly visitor, she tries to convince her child to stay hidden behind the sofa.”
In Joanna Rytel’s short Stay Ups, the merging of parenting and dating begin to dabble with each other. A mother tries to explain to her child—who seems to be around the age of five and wearing an oversized mascot headpiece as part of their existence—that she’s awaiting the visit of a young man that evening and they’ll need to hide behind the sofa so he doesn’t see that she has a kid. The film plays out as a conversation between the two, with just shots of the kid and shots of the mother’s backside trying on different garments. In trying to subvert the expectations of motherhood and its coexistence with one’s sexual being, Stay Ups doesn’t break any new ground in the process. Instead, we have a film that’s a bit delightful in its own wildly unconventional style (and that’s honestly a praise!), but one that begs reason for such precarious choices with more to be desired.
Dressed For Pleasure
“Sarah, a disabled girl who lives with her parents, is increasingly subject to many fantasies and sees her sexuality taking up more and more of her attention.”
In Marie de Maricourt’s short film about a disabled woman’s expanding sexual desire, we become flies on the wall to her expressive personality and venture into heavenly pleasure as she finds unique satisfaction. Sarah is uninterested in the dates set up by the help of her parents, and decides to take things into her own hands, with the help of her new housemaid, a very sexually confident webcam girl. When arranged intimacies (her parents’ plan to make her happy) bore and don’t end well, Sarah discovers her own kinks and takes full control. In that regard, Dressed For Pleasure feels like a cinematic rebellion against sex norms, is a celebration of fluidity, and a film that deserves to be seen. Maricourt’s direction, visual and narrative, is a sight to behold. This film is a pleasure in its own principle.
On the Way Home
“The borderland between sleeping and waking is the moment when the daughter melds into her father.”
The power animation holds is wonderous and reality-bending. In Mizuki Kiyama’s short On the Way Home, we’re met with a girl hanging onto her father’s back as they pass through the city on their way home and then suddenly transported through hand drawn visions of them. From sumo wrestlers to the girl flying through mountain peaks, the medium is traveling through glimpses of fun, free, and boundless imagery. It could be all thanks to her beautiful little mind, the dreams she sees on her father’s back, or flashbacks to beaming feelings. Animated shorts are always thinking up the remarkable and this one proves it and wraps it up in a two minute daydream.
“Mudiaga returns to his village from the city to find his sister, Besida, embroiled with a bad crowd. He struggles to convince her otherwise in light of his prolonged absence.”
Among the community of the Itsekiri tribe, an isolated hut village in Nigeria, Mudiaga returns home to see that his sister is seeing a man he deems to be of a bad crowd from the inner cities. His sudden jealousy and need to protect as an older brother fumes over him and he cannot bare to let Besida continue to see this man. Equally a fight for safety and liberation, Chuko Esiri’s second directorial short Besida is glaring in form and execution, following the spiral Mudiaga would walk down to distance his sister from perceived dangers. The film’s strength lies within actions taken, suspended disillusions of a society in ruins, and the way they inform its blunt conclusion.
“Mariam is determined to escape her conservative Pakistani family by pursuing an online romance in secret, but when her mother begins arranging Mariam’s marriage to her cousin, she refuses and her romance takes a dark twist, revealing the extremes that Mariam is willing to go to keep her relationship alive.”
When a film takes a social issue and magnifies its crippling effects, it does a duty to its audience that forms a taboo into raw existence. Pakistani-Canadian filmmaker Hamza Bangash’s narrative short Dia does just that. It confines an often disregarded issue in Pakistani society and expands on it via our character’s psyche and best kept secret. Mariam Nadeem (Nida Khan) is a big sister and is the only daughter to her divorced mother. She’s busy studying for final exams, something she tenaciously uses to rebuke her mother’s attempts to wed her off. As she pushes against this, Mariam also has an affection and correspondence with Asad, her private love interest.
As her mother (Bakhtawar Mazhar) pushes the arranged engagement, Mariam is faced with a disapproval that affects her mental health. It’s when the film takes a harrowing little twist of corners that we’re compelled to take a closer look into Mariam’s state of thoughts. While we see her hold onto this very secret relationship with a boyfriend we only see in snapshots and whose voice nearly escapes us into the blank facetime screens, we see her destruction first hand.
As we follow the film through flashbacks of snapchat-filtered videos with Asad, the boy she’s corresponding with on the daily, there’s a striking void in what feels to be her touch with reality. This, coupled with a growing isolation and a conscious decline, feed endlessly to what comes of it all. In many countries mental health is often brushed under the rug or deemed a sign of weakness. In some conservatively traditional households you’re trained to think of your vulnerabilities as invalid and insignificant. Mariam’s mother embodies such a system of thought, discussing marriage arrangements at the table, requesting a spiritual leader bless her daughter’s mind, and enforcing the ideology that perpetually breaks down her identity and healthy. Bangash’s film is affecting on the social front and lasting on the mind, taking a common struggle and revealing its vulnerable humanity for a cause.