This was the final set of screenings of short films from around the world at the Leeds International Film Festival.
Chorus (Coro Dos Amantes, Portugal, 2014 – 23 minutes – the Porutguese title, which translates as Choir of Lovers is better). Stylistically this was a surprise, with the image letterboxed within a 2.39:1 frame: a technique used by a number of filmmakers in these selections. In this case the noticeable letter-box seemed justified, as there was a split screen. As I adjusted to this I realised that the left of the image was in the right hand frame, and vice versa. And there was overlapping dialogue: sometimes cutting from one track to another, at other running simultaneously. The story is composed of three songs – the two lovers at home; a desperate drive to a hospital; emergency treatment at the hospital; and then a final sequence at home. The unconventional style adds to the emotional impact of the film. The performances, mise en scène, cinematography, editing, and sound design are exactly appropriate. This was for me the most impressive short film of the festival: more engaging than some of the feature length films.
Rosa (Portugal, 2014 – 15 minutes). A totally different atmosphere is this second Portuguese film. We meet Rosa on the beach where she has a spat with a woman who turns out to be her ex-husband’s girlfriend. Later he turns up at her apartment to collect their daughter for the day. Rosa finds her own day extremely curtailed at this point. She also makes contact with a younger neighbour. At the calmer end of the day we see him in the deserted evening street. The film was vibrant in colour and performances.
Greenland (Israel, 2014 – 18 minutes). The film follows Oren’s day as he packs up preparatory to moving into an apartment with his girlfriend. We see his interactions with his parents and hear conversations on his cell phone. The activities seem very simple, but the film effectively develops a sense of the relationships between characters. And the film has an open-ended conclusion.
Shit Eaters (Gówanojady, Poland, 2014 – 17 minutes). A teenage girl goes with her parents for a day or more at the seaside. The beach seems empty. Soon the girl is conjuring up friendly rather than frightening monsters. Her imaginings seem to comment in some way on the family relationships. This film has a strong and assured touch of surrealism, and it also reminded me of some of the early short film of Roman Polanski, though lighter in tone than those.
Person to Person (USA 2014 – 18 minutes). This film includes one of those record stores for old tapes and long players. But that sets the character of the protagonist: his day is pre-occupied with an uninvited guest who stays on after a party. The film is nicely droll with a touch of whimsy.
As can be seen this programme was very much about relationships, with nice variety of both approaches and situations. Chorus stood out for me but all the film were both absorbing and entertaining.