Film Review: Glasgow Short Film Festival 2015

Born from the Glasgow Film Festival, the Glasgow Short Film Festival (GSFF) has grown from a single weekend show to Scotland’s leading short film festival garnering international recognition along the way. The GSFF is now a major festival hosting a range of competitions, discussion panels, and unique art pieces such as this year’s Vertical Cinema and A Wall is a Screen. Another unique competition on show was the Ani-Jam, in which teams were given an intense 48 hours to create a 90 second long animated film all of which were shown at the award show.

Qmunicate attended the award show on Sunday 15th March in the Centre for Contemporary Arts to catch the very best of the festival and to talk to the various creative minds involved. Speaking with organiser Matt Lloyd who in the past five years strived to develop the GSFF into an international platform states that “creating an international context for the festival not only allows us to showcase new Scottish talent to the overseas industry, but also allows Scottish and international filmmakers to meet, share ideas, and potentially collaborate”.

With Lloyd at the helm the GSFF has grown significantly in popularity with representatives from over 20 film festivals in the UK and abroad having attended this year. “Finally severing all programme connections with the main Glasgow Film Festival, I knew we had to put on a good show to establish the festival as its own event. So the major cross-over events we organised – Vertical Cinema, A Wall Is A Screen, Strange Electricity – were way bigger and more ambitious than anything we’ve done before, and thankfully performed to massive audiences”. A Wall Is A Screen, a guided tour of the city centre with mobile film screenings at iconic sites, is proof of the GSFF’s success with over 600 people attending and a police van mistaking the crowd for a protest.

The awards night kicked off with the three best Glasgow School of Art student films, each one minute long they focused on technical ability; Chiara Cabri was announced as the winner with runners up Jessyca Hauser and Laurence Chan. The Channel 4 award for Innovation in Storytelling went to Will and Ainslie Anderson’s Monkey Love Experiments, described as an “intricate combination of stop motion, live action, and 3D animation” this short has gained international acclaim receiving a 2015 BAFTA nomination in short animation. Really it was no surprise that this short would gain at least one award at the GSFF.

Bill Douglas’ tear jerking documentary Shipwreck that captures the aftermath of an African refugee ship that sank off the coast of Italy in October 2013, was announced as the winner of the International Jury Award and hailed as a “hypnotic meditation on grief and injustice”. The International Audience Award was given to World of Tomorrow by Don Hertzfeldt; a hilarious, creepy, and oddly beautiful animation that has gained near unanimous praise winning the Grand Jury Prize at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.

The Scottish Competition Awards saw Directed by Tweedy, in which the director Ducan Cowles attempts to capture his grandfather’s likeness in film only to be stifled at every turn, win the Scottish Jury Award with a special mention to Cailleach by Rosie Reed Hamilton for a “moving portrait of an uncommon woman’s self-determined way of life”.

Finally, Dropping Off Michael, a moving drama about a boy’s last day of freedom, was announced as the Scottish Audience Award winner with writer James Price collecting. qmunicate managed to speak with the young writer on his recent success and his experience with the GSFF. “As a proud Glaswegian I’d say it’s vital for the film culture here” the 25 year old writer from Springburn says of the GSFF “it’s one of the few chances to see the work of emerging Scottish talent”. A relative newcomer to the film industry, Price gained his first real experience working for JumpCut Summer Production Company back in 2013, an experience that he claims changed his life. “I definitely owe all of my success as a filmmaker to Catriona MacInnes who ran JumpCut at the time because she believed in me when nobody else did and gave me the opportunity to prove my worth”.

With Price’s short Dropping Off Michael being nominated for a Scottish BAFTA new talent award this year, and his second film Concrete and Flowers in the last stages of post-production, it seems Price has definitely proven his worth and is on his way to bigger and better things: “My dream would be to get to a point where I can do for the other up and coming Scottish filmmakers what Catriona and JumpCut did for me because it can be a lonely harsh struggle trying to get a start in this industry”.

“We’re now an important part of filmmaking ecology in the city” claims Matt Lloyd and with the most successful GSFF so far finished, we look to next year’s festival where the events will hopefully be even bigger and bolder, bringing long deserved attention to Scottish filmmakers and the short film industry itself.

[Andrew McIntyre]

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