FESTIVAL LAURELS (all categories)
WINNER: The Turner Exhibit by Mathew Gregory Bainbridge
Jury Member, Ben Rider says:
I write this review having read the careful notes from my team, and considered my own. Yes, from the get-go there are a few major issues with The Turner Prize. Mostly, it is a sort of mini-feature… and so, because of this scope, it doesn’t really feel like a short or a feature. But it is somewhere in between these two.
So, as a film viewer, or consumer… I feel like this film is a trick. It doesn’t work for me. But perhaps, the main issue for this is because of how we consume film materials. We expect grand stories to be featured, and small stories to be short… and the two shall not merge. And on this note, I am reminded of my film studies – Andy Warhol spring to mind, as does Wong Kar Wai. Both made short features that were neither shorts or features. They were both. And they were poorly received by critics because they didn’t fit either box. And so, one acknowledges that there is a sense of ‘how’ a film is consumed, and what we are used to consuming, and how these elements affect our perspective and interpretation of these video contents.
The bottom line is this – regardless of how I felt, or how some of my judges’ film, The Turner Prize is a splendid film experience. It is layered, so much more than a usual short… and well, feels very breezy and brief by not having a longer runtime of a feature – though it could have easily had one. It is a multilayered story, one which carries a lot of texture, performance dynamics, an awareness for locale and spectacle – heck, it is even generational… and it has great attention to detail. It is, all in all, a grand short film full to the brim with a passion of what it is doing, and I admire it for its ambitions, which it reaches and grasps with great expression.
The Battle for Jericho by Rob George – “There’s a great feeling that this film is being made during a time when no film like this is getting greenlit in the mainstream or even major indie side. Do it yourself detectives, especially female centred ones, have almost completely disappeared from the screen… so, you know – major kudos to the team behind this adventure!”
An Auspicious Effort by Deniz Uymaz – “The sort of tale whispered in small towns. It’s great, and has a very conscious idea of what it is, who it is for and what it is about.”
Exit 0 by E. B. Hughes – “All in all, a great project with a heavy head of thoughts. There’s a trace of ‘the old’ film world in this.”
Her Exit, Cherkov Style by Aleksandra Artemeva – “A very slick exercise in filmmaking. Stylish, to the point and bold!”
Blind Love by Bidzina Gogiberidze – “A superb concept is brought to life through some delicate moments, and the great combination of shot and shot-reverse.”
- Best Short Film made for less than $5,000
Winner: Recalculating Rita by Adrià Llauró
Recalculating Rita has a very particular quality to it – a vision. By saying this I don’t actually refer to the auteur idea of ‘vision’, but rather to the budgetary one – after all, this is the prize for Best Short film produced for less than $5,000. This short film, with its very limited budget, has skyrocketed its visage and created a masterful ‘look’ for us to relish and enjoy.
With its chosen picture ration, there are notes here of Xavier Doolan’s Mommy, or even the thinner frame of early 20th-century cinema… but all in all, there’s also the delicate light, the expressions of the film’s personas, and the often unexpected placement of the camera (low shots, eye lines thrown).
Recalculating Rita is a delicate beauty. And it is a beauty despite its low budget… it has a vision which excels beyond its budget.
Among Us by Grace Fox – “Fox directs with a great sense of style, tone and consistent quality. There’s a real pushing of the boat out with the quality of this film, and this very small budget. Very impressive stuff.”
Chin-Chin by Joshua Idusohan – “With a bold lead performance, strong supporting parts, lots of neon coloured scenes and a kick-ass wig, this short film is quite a fantastic little gem!”
OdeToSay by Aleksandra Zdziech – “As documentaries go, this one’s story is one which really does need to be done, and is done so in a low-cost economical way. It is very efficient with its time, resources and subject matter.”
Shelter by Hollie Andrew – “There is a feeling that this film really does takes on a great sense of scale and ambition for such a small budget.”
Family Footage by Freyja Pakarinen – “There’s a whiff of Atom Egoyan, such as Exotica and Ararat. It is coincidental. I’m sure of it. But all the same, this is, like Egoyan’s masters, an interesting take on film as life, and life as a film, and art vs. reality, and the making and unmaking of both.”
- Best Short Film made for between $5,000-$10,000
Winner: Built to Be by Irene Maffei
Festival Director says:
I have a few issues with Built to Be. Just A FEW. And it is as follows: at times this feels like a TV show. A stand-alone episode of something BBC… the type of stuff I scoff at and turn off. It has the school, the parents, the teachers, the on-lookers. It is very soapy. Very ‘playground’ TV devices.
But here’s the thing – Built to Be is more than its minimalist high school arc. And also, the only reason it truly draws such comparisons is that the likes of BBC and ITV have totally saturated the market with this sort of tosh. So, putting that localised apprehension (as it is a very UK based TV tradition), and thinking of this short film in the context of the international play area, one must appreciate two key elements of this short film: the photography, and the narrative devices.
The film’s photography is glossy, with a touch of perspective. It is superior to the BBC’s output of this sort and is far better than your average joe TV shizzle. And also, it feels very slick for the budget of this 30 minutes runtime.
Likewise, the narrative devices of flashbacks and flashforwards help paint a more distinct voice and layered story – the type that TV doesn’t succeed with usually.
… so, my comparison to the TV stuffing is bad. This is a very well polished, well rounded, and very homely project. There’s texture, there’s technique and there’s a handful of enjoyable interaction between a large character ensemble. Perhaps, the only thing I’d love to change is the genre, that’s where the film stumbled and found a comparison to TV. All in all – this is a top drawer product. Bravo!
Summertime by Sylvain Razemon – “The film boasts a great sense of nostalgia, childhood and the temperament of its season. The actual scenes showing the toy soldiers were very creative, and often recalled the importance of simplistic primitive cinema – that being the art form montage, the use of images, thoughts and pictorial narratives; rather than say endless talking heads.”
Dona & Vixen by Alasdair Melrose – “The scenario of Dona & Vixen is its strongest asset – the film really relishes its own surrealist approach to a faux Christmas film. The overall look and tone are consistent, though at times the whole thing feels rather lacking in a cinematic depth that could extend beyond the chosen style and restrictive character arcs. Overall – it’s a great use of budget and the film’s circumstantial set pieces, all of which are explored creatively.”
Duty’s Veil by Rhiannan Falshaw-Skelly – “If this film hadn’t just been another run of the mill ‘detective suspects something and investigates’ story, then we’d have loved it more… but we’ve had so many of them this season (this is the fourth film), that we can only really say that it is a well-crafted film, and one that uses its budget, cast and techniques very well… but the choice of genre, story type and the overall crafting of this core element, is very box standard. All in all, we look forward to seeing more from Rhiannan Falshaw-Skelly, as her work is grand… just a less predictable choice is what’s needed for it to really hold a more personal and unique reason to exist.”
- Best Short Film made for more than $10,000
Winner: Rise from the Tide by Yang Liu and Xu Mingsheng
Hua Xi, her grandparents, and the other locales they interact with are what cinematic dreams are made of. This lush, period piece set in 2005, is everything I, as a cinephile, love. There is a great sense of care from the directing duo to share a piece of their world with us, a dream, and a cinematic story.
This is a fantastic film.
I could keep gushing about this film for a while: the photography is smooth and rich in colour, the textures and layered images are engrossing, the props seem real (nothing is new and out of the box and just purchased for this film), the breezy performances are effortless… oh boy. I just loved this film.
It could have been a feature, one I would have happily paid money to see.
Festival Director says:
The Dark Wood by Guy Massaux – “A film that celebrates more of its locale than its subject – and that is why it is fairly great. It has something unique to sell, and it capitalises on it!”
The Man of the Trees by Andrea Trivero – “A very moving and passionate story told within the medium of documentary.”
Shadows by Sandesh Motwani – “Despite its indulgent and very lengthy musical sequences, this film really does go to great lengths to make its dramatic arc, which is quite a dark warning about driving and safety, heard.”
- Best Feature Film made for less than $5,000
Winner: Beaten by Arturo Portillo
Festival Director says:
With some great retro lighting (yes – there’s colour filters!), as well as a well-balanced routine when it comes to framing, Beaten really beats out the competition as a more rounded project.
All in all, the crime vibe of the project is keen on trying to make itself feel gritty, but ultimately succumbs to more style than chutzpah. This isn’t a bad thing mind you, as the film never fails to deliver what it sets out to be – a well-groomed low budget film.
There’s some fun style in here – and a strong awareness for the film’s placement within genre and film history (a whiff of the old school indies of the 40’s, which were cheaply churned out crime noirs with social issues embedded into their plotting is even present), some good performances (as a whole, the ensemble are on top form), and nothing all that cheap. In truth – I almost can’t believe the film’s claimed $5k budget, just because it has a very breezy and well-polished form. Bottom line – Beaten is worth a watch!
Anywhere Is Here by Ian Lettire – “The ambitions of this project, and its sheer scale, are almost unimaginable for its tiny budget. Kudos to the team who really pushed the envelope with this micro-budget feature!”
- Best Feature Film made for between $5,000-$10,000
Winner: A Ship of Human Skin by Richard Bailey
Festival Director says:
There’s a real sense of style with this film. It is one which is mostly brought out by the film’s technical elements: the project carries itself almost like a machine, one which is equipped with strange sounds, carefully shot sequences which are edited with purpose and an almost hilarious post-modern self-awareness that makes the whole thing feel a tad bit comical, and well, dramatic.
Emotion tends to seep into these sorts of films. And in this particular case, Hilly Holsonback is really the one who throws the punches. Her character is the core of the film, and her dynamic approach to the role keeps the ship running smoothly.
Style punches in occasionally, highlighting the film’s sense of care – there’s a touch of split-screen editing here and there, and augmented sounds, often parallel with differing images. It’s a mosaic in a certain sense, a sort of journey into the beast’s belly.
Bottom line – it is a very creative micro-budget film, one which still feels as if it were reaching for larger hights than it can naturally reach on such a tight resource.
The Battle for Jericho by Rob George – “Features a great ensemble, and an entertaining plot, all well delivered for its very reasonable budget. It’s quite great.”
The Alliance 2019 by Robert L Butler Jr – “The film’s biggest fault is its own overreaching nature. It doesn’t have the budget with which to deliver its ambitions in a believable nature… having said that, this is great wide scope crime drama. And I can easily see, if the film had a larger budget, that it would be locked and loaded and playing on the big screen full of high tension and big stakes. Basically the foundation of this house are perfect, but some of the fixtures of this house are just too cheap.”
Surprise by David Green – “A robust genre piece, this film really relishes its budget use in the keenest of ways.”
- Best Feature produced for more than $10,000
Winner: Exit 0 by E. B. Hughes
Festival Director says:
With a touch of the good old eerie music (thanks to the scoring of Thomas Simon), Exit 0 opens as if it was a pre-destined doomish film. Yes, there’s lots of foreshowing here… and it is all great really. The film’s greatest turn, after all, is its build-up to the dark ending, the type that highlights inner turmoil and psychological thriller attributes.
With some great performances from his two leads, E.B. Hughes makes the most of his genre, budget and locale (the hotel, roads and overall mise en scene are used as great flavourings for this project).
The sense of postmodernism evoked by the videotape, and the couple watching it, hints at a more complex cultural swamping of digital artefacts which are hidden, discovered and witnessed. It is through this layering that the film evokes a sort of Michael Haneke or Atom Egoyan flavour, though it lacks the minimalist and sterile aesthetics of these powerhouse directors.
For what it cost, Exit 0 is great. Almost reminiscent of those 90’s crime thrillers that played on TV at midnight.
Shadow In The Mirror by Ron Foley Macdonald – “Produced with great care and attention to providing a slick, consistent and well-rounded image within the film.”
Beneath the Scar by Cynthia Reid Wills – “A fantastic kaleidoscope of characters lives in this classy film.”
- Best Webseries
Winner: That 80’s Guy by Jefferson Donald
Festival Director says:
Alaina Beauloye steals the show in That ’80s Guy. Jefferson Donald directs with a great sense of purpose and easy-going vibes, all the while also elevating the period he’s referencing… there’s a real sense of nostalgia and comedy based around this throwback moment.
All in all, I think That 80’s Guy is a great webseries, one that might have been better as a more rounded film – which is a compliment, as webseries are funny formats.
American Parousia by Guillermo “Memo” Noriega – “This webseries immediately made me think of De Palma’s Body Double. The two have very little in common really, though the core concept at the start, which focuses on actors and their vulnerabilities, and well, the spark of madness that comes out of the whole creative process, is great… and is a seed present in both projects. Otherwise, The Milky Way, that epic comedy film, feels like a fun comparison to make with American Parousia. It has that same sort of surreal joke.”
Kestrel Investigates by Oliver Semple – “What a stumble of funny characters, wildness and weirdness. Kestrel Investigates is hardly a show stopper, but it has that British wit that keeps you coming back for more.”
Blunt Conversations by Shane Harper – “The puppet and the canned laughter succeed in evoking a sort of comedy that has long been missing from the TV.”
- Best Cinematography
Winner: Andrew Davies’ photography in Among Us – “Is there a bad shot in this magnificent little short? We don’t think so.”
Mert Hasret Uymaz photography in An Auspicious Effort – “A consistently arresting image helps reassure and build An Auspicious Effort as a classy film.”
William J Murray’s photography in Exit 0 – “Packs a far-reaching creative scope with its photography, often balancing tones, light sources and space evenly and with great care.”
Brandon J. Zambonelli’s photography in Within the Deep – “This short’s greatest asset is its look. It provides a really muted and conflicting space for the characters to exist in.”
Christian Kan’s photography in Recalculating Rita – “Oh boy this is beautiful.”
- Best Actor
Winner: Gabe Fazio in Exit 0 – “Fazio is great in this role. He’s always natural, cool and right-on-point emotionally.”
Andre Fyffe in Left Behind – “Fyffe does a great job bringing Edward Campbell to life in this film.”
Rory Wilton in Among Us – “Wilton’s performance is dynamic, bold and a horrible punch to the stomach. He’s great!”
Jonathan Blakeley in The Rest Room – “Blakeley does a great job here.”
Michael Knöfler in Blind Love – “Through Knöfler’s face we are often shown the world and the feelings which he is consuming through his ability to have sight. The film aids this along, and the performance really goes a long way in creating an atmosphere around this element of the gaze.”
Jean Cordier in Green Army – “He doesn’t quite look like a billionaire, as the film suggests… but Cordier does bring a great many layers to his performance, and it makes for a good watching experience, especially with that ending of theirs.”
- Best Actress
Winner: Alice Simpsom in Isabella – “Simpsom almost underplays her role in this, which further enhances its simplicity and believability. Kudos is also due to the director, who helps frame this performance quite evenly.”
Genevieve Mooy in The Battle for Jericho – “Mooy is like a modern day Jessica Fletcher. Her performance is right on point. She’s fun. She’s entertaining. She’s energetic. It’s a hoot to watch!”
Augie Duke in Exit 0 – “Augie Duke brings a great many moments to this film, and does it such ease!”
Funda Şen Bahar in An Auspicious Effort – “Bahar is outstanding as the mother who seems to be running out of options.”
Hannah Louise Oldfield in Eat Your Greens – “Oldfield is fantastically erratic in this short. She’s made us tense… which we suspect, was the thinking behind it all.”
- Best Ensemble Cast
Winner: The cast of The Turner Prize – “This film is greatly elevated by its cast, all of whom are committed to bringing about a dark realism to the content.”
The cast of Exit 0 – “Along with its two leads, Exit 0 enjoys a well-rounded ensemble cast – the type that makes low budget films pleasurable and believable.”
The cast of Beneath the Scar – “There are tons of actors in this film, and they all seem to be doing a great job.”
The cast of Love and Age – “The players here, under the direction of Ismail Mostafanejad, feel very genuine in the delivery of their parts, the film’s story and the entire tone in hand.”
The cast of The Minster – “At times I felt that Ryan Watt’s film wanted too much to be like the Ocean’s films or even The Usual Suspects… but it does, like those films, have a great cast and a great balance of what is entertaining about these performances.”
- Best Score
Winner: Amy Gordon’s score of The Turner Exhibit – “A really chilling and tense making score is provided here by Gordon. She pulls all the strings when it comes to creating an eerie world.”
Dr PJ Leonard’s score of The Curious Child – “A perfectly smooth soundtrack helps bring The Curious Child to life.”
Yasmina Qiu’s score of Recalculating Rita – “A fantastically well-balanced score elevates Recalculating Rita.”
Benedetto Guidotti’s score of Is Love Enough? – “Some great tonal pieces help enhance this film’s genre and style.”
- Best Genre Piece
Winner: The Journey by Chi-ling Chu – “A moving and very well made animation film. What more could you wish for?!”
Fall of Grace by Michael Crum – “With its grimace DV styled photography, this horror really creeps up on you like the best of found footage films.”
How to Bend Concrete in 108 Easy Steps by Mahesh Madhav – “The positives of the documentary style are in full swing here. It’s an interesting and unique choice of subject.”
Toby by Tom Savage – “A very comedic and charming film.”
Fruit Punch by Kyle Briot and Kevin Briot – “A great splendid comedy!”
Is Love Enough? by Eric Weber – “A romantic film which oozes with comedic touches. Allison Broucek provides a dynamic performance that really defines the film as a strange crossover of comedy, romance and drama.”
- Best Writing
An Auspicious Effort by Deniz Uymaz – “A fantastic drama built around some very moving conflicts. This is outstanding really!”
Charlie by Jacqueline Kerr – “Sometimes, less is really more. Kerr provides so much humanity to her simple concept. It’s instantly loveable.”
The Surreal Project by Bálint Szántó – “The best part of this film is perhaps its mounted characters and locales, all of which come out of the scripts smart puzzle of drama, mystery and use of found footage genre arcs.”
The Irish Giant of Knocknaknee – A Story of Irish Puppet Rebellion by Dominic Kennedy – “Fekkin funny. Who thought that puppets could have such fun dialogue?”
Perkele – A Very Finnish Journey by Timo Vasara – “A comedic and very rewarding film that embodies the dullness of things going wrong over and over again.”
Krypsóna by Jennifer Shadd – “Shadd’s script goes to a great length to build a sense of urgency, a slow aching pace of self-absorbed fantasy and a very lost and almost malicious character. It is great.”
- Best Editing
Winner: Sean Stiller’s editing of Solastalgia – “The assemblage of the material is the crown jewel of this project.”
Sylvain Razemom’s editing of Summertime – “The splicing of this Super8 film is a fantastically delicious battlefield!”
E W Helmick’s editing of Take Your Dream – “In the assembly of this film, Helmick finds a great sense of pace, personal story and tone.”
David Maddox’s editing of Michael Half-Life – “The edit of this film, which is stylish and well-timed, feels a part of the film’s pace and language. It’s a rare thing in shorts, and should be celebrated.”
Fabian Kang’s editing of 15th of Sundays – “The pace which this mostly silent short film maintains is thanks to its edit.”
- Best Direction
Winner: Left Behind by Shazedul Haque – “The consistent style and punch of this film is probably its best element, and there is a feeling that Haque really pulled together the different elements for this project thanks to good collaborations and a strong sense of what he wanted to achieve.”
Hazel by Sara Eustáquio – “The film evokes a great sense of tone and mood thanks to its direction.”
The Surreal Project by József Gallai – “There are so many found footage films, and most of them are poorly directed. But that isn’t the case with Gallai’s The Surreal Project – it is well crafted, well mannered and well received!”
The Mystery by Jayprakash Bhosle and Hardik Jadav – “A wild comedy, drama, dance, whatever film… just a whole lot of fun!”
Bastion by Ray Jacobs – “A great sense of style, humour and irony plays out in this film, and it is its packaging by director Ray Jacobs that is truly the highlight of the whole thing.”
- Best Period Piece
Not enough entries for this category to run.
- Special Mention
The Curious Child by Howard Vause – “A fantastical beast of an animation film. Hooray!”
Isabella by Rohan Reddy – “Best closing credits. Very poppy and polished.”
Oops, I Murdered the Person the Person I Like Likes by Ross Ozarka – “The actual innovation of the hand puppet paper cut outs is great… but the length of this project is far too long, and hinders the overall impact and quality of the craftsmanship of the whole thing. By the end of it, I felt it was lacking… but still, it did, contain moments of genius. There was a touch of Miike’s plaster puppets from The Happniess of the Katakuris.”
Post Ebola Sierra Leone by Maarten Slooves – “There is a feeling that this film was made with great care and craftsmanship. It is fantastic really.”
The Avant-Gardener by Lindsay Katt, Heather Matarazzo, Jeremiah Kipp and Carl Byrd – “A fantastically rich music video voyage!”
Kragos the Dishonored by David Maddox – “Quite frankly, fan-made films rule like this rule!”
- Best genre piece
Winner: Talk Yellow to Me by Leqi “Vanessa” Kong – “There’s a feeling of great comedic drama in this project. And also, a sense that this could be something fun and smart, like the next HBO project – be it Girls or Insecure.”
Virulent by David Spring – “A well-rounded genre piece full of big show stoppers and wide-reaching locations.”
Killer Door by Ian Pozzebon – “A great pulpy genre outing with ghouls and hammer styled content.”
- Best technique
Winner: Prentice Park by Turi Haim – “A well rounded and well-polished script. There’s a real sense of character arcs, themes and purpose here… not to mention a well-written prose and correct scripting format.”
Cestoda by Helen Marsh – “A strange and very well thought out script with some interesting unique touches.”
The Uncanny Valley by Julia Beney and Jacqueline Godbout – “A situation which allows for some original writing. Something that could be quite fun to see shot.”
- Best micro-budget script
No entries selected.
- Best character arc
Winner: Show Your Tongue to Einstein by Alice Kreyman – “A roaring ensemble of characters live and breath in this script.”
Newton in China by Leqi “Vanessa” Kong – “An odour of tradition runs through the lives of this film’s characters, and it is very well developed and clearly put on the page with much love.”
Living in the Moment by Curtis Roy Worrall – “Despite the strange formatting, this script does feature some interesting characteristics, ones that really go on a journey.”
S.F.O by Lawrence Whitener – “There’s a real sense of this film’s stakes being quite brash and well – in-tow with the characters live or die mode.”
- Best music video
Winner: Big Wild – City of Sound by Tim Fox – “An outstanding, slick and popful music video.”
Bones Dreams Blood – The Real Tuesday Weld by Don Brosnan – “There’s something very nostalgic and yesteryear about this video that’s awesome. I now look forward to being a ghost someday!”
Requiem for Individuality by Jon M. Ausman – “This video reminds me of Grimes’ early work, in particular, Genesis. It has a great fantasy look about it.”
Looking for the Light by Yiannis Katsaris – “A tender and very warm video. Quite funny and moving too.”
- Best cinematography
Winner: Ed Thomas’ photography of 600 Horses – “A video that drips in beauty and talent.”
François Ray’s photography of Linoleum – “The lighting of this short film is quite unique. Very tone conscious, and memorable.”
The photography of Big Wild – City of Sound- “As smooth looking as melting ice cream. Just deliciously sweet!”
- Best editing
Winner: The edit of Looking for the Light – “The silence is greatly filled by the splicing of story and musical tones. It’s great!”
Drew Leyburn’s editing of Strange Love – “Back and forth we go, stitching a little story within this music video. It’s very nicely done, and is very smooth thanks to Scott McKinney’s direction.”
The editing of I Love Marijuana by Whiskey Sharts – “Incorporating a variety of different camera angles, including panning steady shots and drone sky-swoops, is quite a nice thing… as long as the edit holds it together. This video pulls it off.”
Vasco Diogo’s editing of Walkscape – “A nightmarish wonderworld is presented here, and it’s the edit which really helps build the ‘bigger’ picture.”