Straddling the political and the personal, this collection surveys the multitudinous causes of anxiety in the 21st century, from the angst of familial strife to the numbed alienation of violence filtered through social media. Combining a heady mix of animation, experimental film and drama, this selection traverses a world in the midst of global agitation.

 

 

Manila Is Full Of Men Named Boy

Synopsis: “As Michael Jackson’s televised funeral plays throughout the country despite terrorist attacks in the south, an estranged son purchases a child who can drink and smoke to impress his father.”

This wonderfully shot and edited story of acceptance and “love” reminded me of the Alfonso Cuarón original Roma. Not in narrative, but simply in its style and focus on what makes us human, and set in a world that many of us fail to look closer at to see not everyone lives a fairy-tale life.

Jon Norman Schneider is ‘Boy’, a son himself who wants to impress his father and his family in Manila. How best to do this in a rather cut-throat society? Buy a son himself, and one who drinks and sings karaoke and smokes to mould into his own shadow. Only, how much money does it take to by acceptance? And what happens when you your ‘purchase’ is accepted more than you?

Fluidly shot, deeply atmospheric and uncomfortably engrossing to see a man who just wants to be loved and accepted by his hard-up father nearly lose it all. Director Andrew Stephen Lee isn’t gratuitous in what he shows on screen but casts his hard emotive punches with unspoken words and physical actions.

★★★★★

 

 

 

 

Oh God

Synopsis: “Animated characters are characterized by a lack of willingness to take any action, are passive and indifferent, unable to create their own reality.”

Betina Bozek almost brings a kind of teenage angst to life in the form of pencil drawings that are simple but surreal. Drawings you’d expect to see scrawled on books or walls mould and blend into life in all sorts of distorting, unsettling ways.

This is anxiety about everything- about love, about friendship, about relationships, about yourself. It swallows you up and blurs your reality – it makes you see and feel things that aren’t there, and while it all looks simple on the outside, inside it’s a nightmarish vision.

Minimal and simple in style, but packs a lot of feelings into just a few minutes.

★★

 

 

 

 

JENY303

Synopsis: “A single film roll intertwines two portraits: jeny an anonymous millennial trans person and a Colombian university space, the 303 building, to be demolished.”

Director Laura Huertas Millan brings us an empty shell of a Colombian building. Inside, just memories of a place that probably used to thrive with people in some sort of community.

We spend a few intimate minutes with a young Colombian transgender who has a simple way of living – or surviving – by deception. By being a shell of someone who doesn’t exist and taking what he can from the portrayal.

It’s real. It’s blunt. It’s human nature of a young adult in this scary world.

★★★

 

 

 

 

Confusion Is Next

Synopsis: “Nomadic musician Thom Assajan-Jakgawan appears as a fictionalized version of himself living in a fragile state, a collapsed country.”

Pathompon Mont Tesprateep of Thailand presents a rather disturbing dystopian look at a musician trapped in a fictional state of mind. From the very start, this reminds us of the surreal silent films of the 1920s and even that of the 60s.

Surrounded by a crumbling building and working amongst leaves, musical apparatus, twigs, hospital drip bags and even a tortoise, our introverted artists is, quite simply, trapped. But they don’t see this as a bad thing.

Sadly, the confusion of the title somehow lends itself to these 20 minutes. It doesn’t front any questions on the outset, but forces you to think about just how the state of mind works and what way we live in order to produce our best – and most inspirational – art.

★★

 

 

 

Fest

Synopsis: “Similar to the protagonists in fail compilations, the characters in Fest are dealing with unexpected results and extreme situations.”

Whatever Nikita Diakur has done….I don’t know what it is

Just like the huge banner strewn between two buildings says, ‘Fest’ is just that. A festival? A feast for the eyes? Senses? I don’t know! It’s a techno-mix of a small street engrossed in eating fast food, ice-cream, raving, chatting, being crazy and flying a drone.

Think of some age-old computer game mixed with ‘The Lawnmower Man’ all created to a head-banging soundtrack. Wherever this CGI suburb is, where ever in the CGI world it’s based, I’d love to be there and witness it all for myself with its absurd colours, dimensions and shapes.

But of course, this seems to mask an intense, heart-thumping fever. A paranoia perhaps? A sensory overload of the world around you where everyone and everything is hard-wired to music, to sounds, smells and sights? It’s nightmarish when you look into it, and technically it’s a brilliant creation.

★★★★★

 

 

 

The Lost Head and the Bird

Synopsis: “The Lost Head & The Bird explores a frighteningly fast-changing, post-truth world where actions are fuelled by appeals to emotion and facts are increasingly ignored.”

A good minute and a half monologue invites you into a strange few minutes of disturbing and surreal imagery thrown together by Sohrab Hura. Family photographs, pets, people with facial disfigurement, blood and what looks like violence and abuse combine into an unsettling, unnerving album of images.

Following these images that flash before our eyes, Hura goes full throttle into a radical statement of violence, religion, sexuality, family and media. A whirlwind assault on your eyes where you’ll lose sense of what you see; fact or fiction, truth or lies? War or peace? Terrorists or freedom fighters? Dictators or nobility? Friends or enemies?

You won’t know what you’re seeing in a frantically and beautifully edited finale that has you see all of the above put before you to make up your own mind. And with flashes of President Donald Trump amongst snapshots of civil wars and soldiers, it’s a very political piece for the ages.

★★★

 

 

 

Hector Malot: The Last Day of the Year

Akin to last years’ Lady Bird, Jacqueline Lentzou asks a question about identity, why and what happens next?

Filmed and shot in a very tender way, Lentzou has our protagonist face up to the question of just that – her identity, why her, and what happens next? Can she turn to religion to answer that, or her family, or her own interests and friends? Sometimes can’t be reasoned or understood, so it’s left to find comfort and solutions in the simple things.

In this case, it’s hard to find unless it’s right under your nose which will warm even the coldest of viewers hearts.

Sweet and thoughtful, and very real.

★★★

 

 

These shorts will screen at the festival 13th and 17th January and you can book your tickets here