FESTIVAL LAURELS (all categories)
- Jury Prize
Winners: tie – Entrance No Exit by Jo Southwell and My Dear Friend by Qiumeng Zhong
Kommando 1944 by Derek Quick
Cakra Buana by Massimo Burhanuddin
I’m F%$#ing Fine by Jamie Anderson
- Best Short Film made for less than $5,000
Winner: Say Please by Blake Bauer
Festival Director says:
There isn’t actually all that much that is original in Say Please. It is a very ‘Victorian’ story – the type that used to be written in the British empire in order to inform children of the importance of being polite. Of course, in the likes of said Victorian stories, there were no clowns, no tied up woman and all said stories featured vague references to violence… never of these heights.
The short does though embody one key thing about low budget filmmaking – it is opulent. It is rich, colourful, and well produced.
The cast punch their best, and so does the camera department, which go above and beyond to infuse the film with texture and rich images.
As for the subject matter, well – it reminded me of Eli Roth’s produced film Clown. And I can comfortably add after that, that I haven’t seen a clown themed film, since Clown that is, that was as exciting, original and entertaining as this mighty little short.
Baba Yorga Origins by Sean Pettis – “What madness is this? What wonder?! It is like something out of Jan Švankmajer’s imaginations. We are scared, bemused and intrigued.”
Love at First Sight by Isabella Jacqueline – “There’s a real sense of making the best film here with as little resources as possible… which is to say, Jaqueline does a wonderful job. It’s pampered, bright and colour filled. Perhaps a bit of a film convert grade wouldn’t hurt, or even a retro 4:3 frame… just to evoke a bit more of an 80’s throwback style, to match the film’s genre and scripting of a John Hughes-ish ploy. But yes, it is splendid all the same.
Introducing Skully by Kirk Wallace – “The film carries its genre, and its production, with a great eye for detail, animation technique and bold utilisation of its low budget.”
- Best Short Film made for between $5,000-$10,000
Winner: Power Down by Bradley Murray
Festival Director says:
I still think Ingrid Goes West will forever remain as the ‘digital danger’ message of the decade… but Bradley Murray’s Power Down does provide an amble bite sized punch line with equal gusto and style.
The film carries a great sense of filmic time, editing and splashing is characters all around. The photography, as well, for the most part is delicate, and well used when capturing the ensembles performances. There’s not much fat here either, and the use of the production scale is effective, if not informative as well – as one rarely thinks of the peaceful Oz when picturing the end of social media kicking and its respective withdrawal symptoms kicking in!
Blood Means Nothing by Mark Oxtoby – “Though it is a tad bit cheesy at times, some of the cast (in particular Lauren Logan and Dan Krikler) bring some much needed realism to the show and rescue its run time… All in all, ‘Blood Means Nothing’ proves to be a well oiled machine featuring some enticing music and classy melodrama disguised as another ‘British Gangster’ project.”
Entrance No Exit by Jo Southwell – “Sophie Dix’s lighthearted script of an OCD fussed celeb on a plane ride recalls the charm of the Meg Ryan comedy French Kiss. The scale is fairly impressive with its use of a plane locale, and the lighting, ensemble cast and overall balancing of production values are all maintained quite consistently throughout the production.”
- Best Short Film made for more than $10,000
Winner: Kommando 1944 by Derek Quick
Festival Director says:
The opening of the short was a bit of a wobbly thing – the creases in that newly unfolded Nazi flag rang a little bell in my head that said: ‘this is a film, and no one wanted to decrease that damn flag’. But, putting that issue aside, as one should (because who really would want to uncrease it!)… the short is one of the most impressive I’ve seen in quite some time, and makes for a hard-to-follow act for all the 2019 entries we’ll be receiving from here on out!
The film has a bold sense of time, place and history; throwing a few punches both at the histrionics of WWII, and the varied narratives that the period tends to hold (ones often ignored in fictional film). It pursues a variety of genre types, all disguised as an interesting human story. And above all, and perhaps the most impressive element of the film – the project is shot with a stunning classical cinema approach.
The only issue I hold, and it is really only an issue of personal taste is that I thought the film was too lush in terms of its colours, and as such – looked too beautiful for the story it was telling. All in all though, this is an ace film.
A Friend in Need by Matt George Lovett – “Lovett’s film, which is a varied showcase piece of Matt Carrell’s large ensemble drama script, contains intrigue and a wobbly sense of balance. Though the production is quite impressively held together as a variety piece, mostly constructed by a switching of direction and locales, the whole thing sort of collapses in on itself, serving more as a punchline riddled joke, than say the more tonal drama that it opened as. All in all though, it is a well executed short film, which often features scenes that become quite cinematically engaging.”
Teatro a Palazzo by Roberto Caldi – “Though a tad fatty with its runtime and pacing, Teatro a Palazzo carries some great detail, a strong ensemble and fun period piece costuming.”
TBFA by Max Lakner – “Though quite contained in terms of its scale and budget use, the film manages to swap day and night, and scene circumstance/ambiance, with a graceful ease. Also, one should add – a few great moments of split screen provide some interesting special De Palma moments – Kudos to Lakner and his DP/Editing team for pulling these off.”
- Best Feature Film made for less than $5,000
Winner: Eclipsed by Aditya Chowdhury
Festival Director says:
Eclipsed by Aditya Chowdhury carries a certain dreamy post-modern Maya Deren style. It is though, far from the bleak and surreal elements of Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon. Instead, Eclipsed is a modern story of a modern woman. And likewise, almost in direct parallel with Deren’s work, there is a sense of the artist working here independently with a camera in reach – the merky fuzzy buzz filled video camera.
The city blurs, the interiors are dark and often filled with shallow photography, and the natural habitats are soft. Everything is reconstituted, its colours are filtered and seeped through the perspective of the camera, its digitisation, and is handled by its holder and their placement in relation to the the light source / subject(s). It is thanks to this bold use of perspective, an awareness for the mediums limitations (and agility), that Chowdhury is able to find the perfect balance of his budget, the project’s limitations, and its artistic needs.
Kibbles by Mauro Paolino – “Though it isn’t the most concise feature, and relies heavily on its young cast, the film bares plenty of teeth at the generation suffering from a lacklustre for life after years of digital ingest. It is, for those reasons, a personal event for its young director, and one delivered with quite a strong handling of a classical film style.”
Dead Unicorns by Ian Fielding – “A merciless artistic venture which pushes its budget to the limits with some outstanding results.”
- Best Feature Film made for between $5,000-$10,000
Not enough valid entries for this category to be a competition.
- Best Feature Film made for more than $10,000
Winner: Love Possible by Michael Boccalini and Che Grant
Festival Director says:
This film is quite frankly a complete and utter farce, and I mean that in the best of ways. It is comical, but also quite dreadfully heartbreaking, and also contains a rather grim utterance of what modern day romance (or at least romance in the last century) has become.
As genre films go, Love Possibly is well, everything the likes of Love Actually is. There’s no glossy Hollywood stars here, and the cinematography and ‘to camera’ performance breaks any sense of film realism, evoking that feeling of analysis: we, as an audience, are in on the joke… rather than say – laughing with the characters, or crying with them… like the effect of Love Actually.
All in all the project boasts some grand London spots, and embeds several impressive supporting roles around its very strong leads, all of whom try their best to keep the energy levels aflot. The script, likewise, is a well constructed variety show. The whole thing is somewhat reminiscent of a Fellini film, only the surrealism is dialed waaaaay back here, and it is as more as a travelling circus of fun beings stuck in funny situations. Highly enjoyable and recommendable to all viewers alike!
The Astronot by Tim Cash – “Produced with a hell of a lot of obvious affection, this film carries itself with a lot of ease. It is a fun viewing experience, and it provides a new take on the outback of American cinema – forget Ford and his wrestle with the dusty dunes, this film is about fatherhood, dreams and space.”
UNS by Singh Sahab – “It feels comedic at times, though it always remain steeped in some sort of dramatic turn. It is shot with a very crystal clear image, and the performances of its two leads really shine quite boldly here, almost like early Bozarge films.”
The Marvin Case by Lewis Eizykman – “This is a very formalist (in the film theory) event, full of documentary like moments blasted with comedy. ”
A Girl, A Boy, A Penny and a Very, Very, Very Long Road by Julia Beney – “The young cast, and the film’s somewhat ‘mid-road’ presentation evokes a fantastic feeling of youth passing, the pending adulthood of these characters, and well – a certain nostalgia for the previous paths they’ve taken. It is, in some roundabout way, very reminiscent of Ingmar Bergman’s one film, Wild Strawberries, which focuses on an elderly man midway upon his journey to a prized reception.”
- Best Webseries
Winner: Subverse by Joseph White
Festival Director says:
I am outright jealous of Joseph White and his work on Subverse.
The project is one trippy glitchy wormhole of danger and happiness, and it is steeped in some fantastically lean elements of thematic content (disconnection, alienation, communication), as well as an awareness for filmic language, and its transgression (almost a reminder of Olivier Assayas’ postmodern work, in particular Personal Shopper and Demonlover).
The project boasts some bold turns from its cast, the visual effects department, and the photographic department. It appears as if everyone working on this was fully loaded and bursting with creativity.
Just plain awesomeness!
Rebound by Andrew Ball-Shaw – “An oddball webseries with a tonne of character. Quite an unusual entry for a UK production, and quite impressively so!”
The A to Z of Clueless Experts by Collene Webb – “We have had so many fake vlog webseries, all spoofs of the dreadful millennial era ‘internet sensations’, that one can’t help but feel a bit bored by the concept at this point. It’s like a found footage film – we’ve seen too many of them… however, Collene Webb’s scripting and performance is quite outstandingly outlandish, and she does know how to burst onto the screen with great energy, character and wildness. So, you know, we’ll recommend yet another satirical vlog, because it’s too fun to miss!”
- Best Cinematography
Adam LaPine’s photography of Cat Box – “The film is quite low key, and yet, LaPine finds many ways to keep the image of the film blasting with colour, sharp streaks of light, and careful textures, all of which enhance the film, and make for a very memorable viewing experience.”
John T Connor’s photography in I’m F%$#ing Fine – “Crisp, poetic, often underplayed and well balanced. It’s not as brash or heavy on contrast, but for some reason it recalls the textured palettes of Sven Nykvist, which is to say it is quite fantastic.”
Rushil Choudhary and Markus Dell’s photography in Like Glass – “An inventive and often texture infused image progressively reveals the woods and the inner turmoil of this film’s lead protagonist. It is a great little thing.”
Tim Cash’s photography of The Astronot – “Carefully produced with a bold eye for colour, scope and graceful American locales. It is very reminiscent of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s work (in particular his American picture – Spivet) … which is to say it is fantastically shot!”
- Best Actor
Winner: Conner Neddersen in Cat Box – “Neddersen’s performance is nearly entirely silent, and yet it is energetic, emotive and a blast to watch!”
Roi Cydulkin in TBFA – “He’s irritating to watch… in the best of ways. Quite a nuanced performance, and provides a great foundation which his co-stars can play off of.”
Robert Dukes in A Friend in Need – “The film’s intrigue is mostly carried by its lead – Robert Dukes, who brings a certain intriguing level of detail to his performance, which often enforces the idea of realism within the narrative world.”
Eric Robinson in Subverse – “Bonkers performance full of sweat, tears (and I’m sure blood) for a bonkers project. Quite brilliant.”
Neil Hobbs in Within – “It is a heavy performance, and one that provides a great sense of realism to the whole project.”
- Best Actress
Winner: Liz Taylor in Give + Take – “Taylor one hell of an entertaining character actress, and this is a fantastic vehicle for her.”
Arabella Aldrich in TBFA – “A consistent performance full of energy and various tones. Aldrich punches well above the weight of most actresses in this season!”
Therés Amee in The Heather Project – “Amee provides a brilliantly comedic performance to this delightful short film.”
North Roberts in Something About Henry – “She’s a hoot.”
Shirin Parveen in UNS – “Many actors would have taken this role on and made it very dramatic and joyless to watch. Parveen however does what Lewis did before her so wonderfully in The Other Sister, she shows us the world through the eyes of her character, and never hides away from the experience of being disabled, and a happy being. It is quite fantastic to watch, and Parveen should be commended for her successful delivery, which shifts from being quite positive to quite dark due to its ending. The whole thing is full of energy and power.”
Jill Sheen in Say Please – “She screams and cries and I hope she didn’t have to do too many takes because the whole thing looks like a challenge… though the ending was quite sweet.”
- Best Ensemble Cast – dependent number of qualifying entries
Winner: The cast of My Dear Friend – “A grand and very moving thing is present here, and it is mostly explored and delivered by this cast of impressive and interesting beings.”
The cast of I’m F%$#ing Fine – “They’re an annoying bunch in the best of wayz.”
The cast of Kommando 1944 – “A solid cast of actors help bring the film it’s soulful life, one, which thanks to their presence, exists beyond the technical workmanship and histrionics on show.”
The cast of The Marvin Case by Lewis Eizykman – “A calculated onslaught of personas make their way through The Marvin Case. It seems the relativity of these individuals to a very ‘interesting’ missing cat is well, hilariously entertaining.”
The cast of Emotical – “They have a lot of fun in this, and are quite skilled at balancing that kitsch and seriousness together. It’s like an old Schwarzenegger film.”
- Best Score
Winner: Enry Johan Jaohari’s music for Cakra Buana – “It almost feels unfair not to place this prize elsewhere, on the simple grounds that the score, lyrics and music of Cakra Buana are that of a musical, and not of a score. Ultimately, ignoring the slight categorisation dilemma, one has to observe that there’s barely any silence in this film, and that for a feature film made on a small budget, it is mighty impressive!”
Giuseppe Alfano and Matthew Holland’s scoring of Entrance No Exit – “An atmospheric gasto blasts Entrance No Exit, and it’s delicious to hear!”
Jeff Guerra and Jeremy Lwamugira’s scoring of Introducing Skully – “A fantastically classical score runs through the entirety of this chasy short film. It’s fun, and its emotive.”
Paco Periago’s scoring of The Game – “There is oodles of tone, genre pieces and tension in this score!”
- Best Genre Piece
Winner: Cakra Buana by Massimo Burhanuddin – “We have never seen an Indonesian musical before, both as a festival judging team and cinephiles/filmmakers. I suppose that says it all.”
Entrance No Exit by Jo Southwell – “A comedic splash presides Entrance No Exit. It’s humorous, and very Jacques Tati.”
A Sari for Pallavi by Sunita Deshpande – “Some great grounded comedy full of authenticity and character allows A Sari for Pallavi to bubble with charm.”
Rebound by Andrew Ball-Shaw – “Something quite comical, intriguing and entertaining brews here.”
Lady in the Shower by Chris Borgo – “This is a haughty horror, brasin and classy. Can we just skip the shorts and get a feature on the road? Because Borgo has already mastered this runtime to perfection.”
The Game by Matthias Pöltinger, Zoe Fuchs – “It is a never ending thing of genre intrigue, playfulness and mystery!”
- Best Direction
Winner: Dead Unicorns by Ian Fielding – “No one saw #Horror. I thought it was a fantastic little gem of a film. It burst onto the scene with a lot of style, darkness and bold artistic design. It was a bizarre mixture of art, the idea of what is art, and film, as art. The reason I mention it though is because Fielding has done the same here. And it is perhaps even more successful than fashion director turned filmmaker Tara Subkoff’s effort. Fielding has merged genre with installation, and art, and performance, or even perhaps performative art. The film is rich, a multilayered high rise full of personas, noises and dark rooms. It is a relish worthy event, and a bloody fantastic second feature!”*Review by Festival Director
Subverse by Joseph White – “Such a wild world is presented in Subverse, and it is White’s stylisation of it, and its spacial awareness, that makes it feel so real, dangerous, enjoyable, pop-eyed frenzied and ecstatic!”
My Dear Friend by Pingdao Yang – “The way with which the rural settings are captured, and the nature of how the complex dynamics between the cast of characters is evoked in a physical and psychological way into the film, is an impressive and alluring success by Pingdao Yang.”
Cat Box by Kris Kristensen – “It’s an atmospheric affair, and it reeks (pun unintended) of some heavy cat litter mystery. No, in all seriousness – Kristensen goes old school here – his lead goes walkabout in the dark suburbs, and it’s a bit of a The ‘Burbs fun.”
All In by Oliver James Spalding – “It’s a bit lengthy for a short, but the project is quite intensely and beautifully told.”
Emotical by Ellis E. Fowler – “Fowler’s handling of genre, and the various aspects of his film’s elements, is impressive and often exciting to watch.”
- Best Writing
Winner: The Other Side by Grace Fox – “Fox’s main premise: a nervous lady with a walkie talkie walking and talking in the post apocalyptic setting, is a work of original genius. Quite frankly it was just outstandingly well written and I hope we are only all so lucky to have such a blasted time when and if the end comes.”
I’m F%$#ing Fine by Jamie Anderson (maybe) – “A carefully constructed narrative of unfortunate happenings built around a series of entertaining LA caricatures; allowing for the cast to bring a lot of life to this film.”
Strawberry or Lemon by Paul Dean Vieillefrance – “The film’s poetic and intimate subject matter makes for an unusual watch. It’s very delicate, and carries a certain likeness with Hirokazu Koreeda’s recent familial works.”
A Mi Manera by Gloria Ines – “Clashing comedy with dark drama makes for a very precise ‘dessert’ of a film. It’s funny, charming, but also upsetting and hard hitting. We usually get a lot of entres, and a few main course films here… but we basically never get a dessert. It’s an easy viewing with a mixture of a bitter chocolate flavour and something very sweet.”
Give + Take by Brian Kennington – “The writing is plump, fun and witty. The characters are lively and bubbly. I just hope I don’t need to use a plug anytime soon.”
- Best Editing
Winner: Will Barnard’s editing of Get Riel – “As short documentaries go, this one is a pure pleasure… and well, the edit is concise, entertaining, and always on-the-go. It’s a dance!”
Chris Borgo’s editing of Lady in the Shower – “A tense object is petrified by its arrangement here. Borgo does a splendid job of getting the atmosphere spliced, diced and bloody.”
(Curro),… by Micah Stathis – “The editing of this short provides it with a pace of digital freshness. Energy flows through the cuts, and imitates the nature of the film’s lead character’s vex over the concepts of time, space and consciousness.”
Anthony Thornton-Hopwood’s editing of Park Life – “It is a bit of a fluffy event, but the actors, cinematography and ideas are all tied together quite nicely thanks to a concise and often tone sensitive edit by Thornton-Hopwood.”
Roan Lenihan’s editing of Burnt On Both Sides – “The film’s genre, and its pacing, are all thanks to the edit. It is lean machine!”
- Best Period Piece
Winner: Long Gone by Oliver Mitchell – “Though not an outright period piece, the film carries a certain gravitas towards the past, which it delivers impressive details considering its tight budget. Also, one might add, it is brilliantly written as a kind of 90’s time travelling band story. Hora!”
Teatro a Palazzo by Roberto Caldi – “Almost timeless with its placement in time, and as such – all the more fantastical.”
Micro Love by Annaliese Eisenstadt – “Though far from authentic, or even convincing in its period piece details – Micro Love does come loaded with a throwback to the 80’s highschool comedies (or even horrors) that optimized the decade in American cinema.”
- Special Mention
The effects and editing of Subverse by Joseph White – “A wild glitchy world is created for Subverse, and the production team behind it go all out and make a wonderful trippy thing… probably one of the best digital manias since Greg Araki’s Kaboom.”
Michael J. Grundmann’s documentary Breaking Free – “A thoughtful subject matter delivered with integrity and importance.”
- Best Documentary
Rose by Edwin Miles – “Producing a family portrait as this one is a difficult task, and it is done with a great insight into filmic editing, the film’s key character and how one handles the story being told. Quite delightful really.”
Mexican wave by Judson Vaughan – “Sadly this isn’t the sort of documentary that gets air time in the UK, but it should. It is made with a very bold voice, is a conscious discussion about the dilemmas facing Mexico, and above all – it is informative. Quite great.”
Day of the Western Sunrise by Keith Reimink – “A bold collage of documentary interview footage mixed with some impressive animation techniques. The balancing act of old gentleman talking of their past with new imagery provides the film’s audience with a gateway into their tale which is told in an impressively cinematic style thanks to Reimink’s choice of form, as well as the editorial work or organising the tale.”
Wizzy Mangoma’s documentary Wizzy, a visitor from Zimbabwe – “A personal story told with a great amount of depth and insight.”
- Special Prize: Best Animation
Winner: Introduction to Epilogue by Indra Sproge
Festival Director says:
Plasticine is played with here with an adult playfulness that recalls the 90’s era of TV. Quite fantastic!
- Best music video
Winner: Freak by Martina Sochor – “For the sheer madness of this unusual music video, one has to tip the hat at its creator!”
Beyond (Acoustic) by Justin Wilson – “The ‘liveness’ of this video, the sense of entering the musician’s space and sharing a moment with them, is a very popular thing on Youtube… and this one lives up to its potential. Some great use of colour filters in this video as well.”
Entitas by Hugo Diego Garcia – “A classic is sometimes best served cold.”
Wind & Fire by Nathanael Vass – “The video has a sense of the personal, something that many music videos lack. This is largely successfully done by the director’s own handling of the material. It’s very much a great example of the caméra-stylo at work.”
- Best cinematography
Ziv Berkovich’s photography of Rooftops – “Oh what retro bliss is this!”
Andiamo’s photography of All The Saints – “Shot with some interesting tactile and nuanced elements, which highlight the beautiful locales in sight.”
Clemence Thurninger’s photography of Entitas – “Against the white paradise of snow, figures run and chase a bright object. It’s the chalky black look that makes this video shine, and it recalls the old silents, in particular, the ending of Frank Bozarge’s classic Lucky Star.”
Jakob Kaiser’s photography of Freak – “The delicate picture, accompanied by the rocky gravel, is a praiseworthy contrast.”
Nathanael Vass’s photography of Wind & Fire – “There’s a bit of a clash between the modern and beautifully old film stock. Of course one has to prefer the nostalgic old look, but overall it’s quite commendable as a contrasting book of past and present.”
- Best editing
Winner: Nathanael Vass’s editing of Wind & Fire – “The music videos juxtapositions create a flux of moments that are both intriguing, interesting and engaging.”
Sonia De Nicolo’s editing of Digital Age – “There’s a sense of time, be it in slow-mo or fast forward, that drips through this music video thanks to De Nicolo’s editing and animation.”
Tomasz Szypryt’s editing of Carnage – “A Gothic video spliced together with a lot of care for pacing, information and transitions.”
- Best genre piece
Winner: Drones & Drivers by Haley Isleib – “It boasts a large variety of genre tropes in an original way – sort of like a combo of Source Code and Run Lola Run.”
Destiny of Tar and Feathers by Harold L. Brown – “A confident splash of genre kicks are all dumped in Destiny of Tar, and it just smells of success!”
Tourette’s and Zombies, the Musical by Zak Ferguson and George Carmichael – “It feels like a hard project to produce, but this is one hell of a fun retro musical journey to be had.”
- Best technique
Winner: At The Mercy of Faith by Samuel Lee Taylor – “A long road of wonder. Quite well written, with a bold voice.”
Sugar Cube by Radoslav Stoyanov – “It’s a dense creature, and it feels like it has the potential to be a sort of Hanekeesque project. If it ever gets made, we’ll sure as hell want to see it!”
The Last Pirate by Christian Pavlik – “A well executed script full of richness and texture.”
Cassanova’s Poetry Club by Valerio Viale – “It feels like a large event script. Could be quite a fun production to see made.”
We Just Need Some Money by Matteo Valentini – “It’s a hefty read, and a dense event… but ultimately it is quite well balanced, and contains many interesting moments.”
- Best micro budget script
Winner: The Love Meeting by Pascal Adam – “An affordable project that would be quite easy and enjoyable to film on a low budget.”
Boss by Violet Myers – “A simple two handler that could become a fun character piece for the actors.”
Apt. 6C by Christopher Kerr – “The script’s use of obscenities is a fun blast to its small locales and out of control, but very manageable, characters.”
- Best character arc
Winner: Red Nose, Floppy Shoes by James P Brosnahan – “It’s a bit of a ridiculous event, and the whole thing would be mighty entertaining on screen; especially with these personas.”
The Love Meeting by Pascal Adam – “It’s a fiery mixture of beings that bubble on the screen, though some of them aren’t all that unique. All in all though its comedic, and enjoyable. More dynamics in the performance range would improve the script greatly, and push it into perfection.”
A Chippy Off the Old Block by Kelly Jean Karam – “There’s a sense of age here which helps enlarge the project’s potential scale, all of which is thanks to its characters.”