Edinburgh Short Films Festival Day 6: Overcoming at FilmHouse

An impressive variety of short films were on display on the penultimate night of the Edinburgh Short Films Festival. Although centred around the idea of overcoming, the films took on a number of different forms, eschewing, or cheerfully overplaying, the triumphant tone that the theme can often produce. The night opened with A Drowning Man, a short film nominally concerned with the plight of refugees in Greece, but using the situation to peer into the life of its nameless protagonist, who is truly apart. The film benefits greatly from the cine-literate writer/director Mahdi Fliefel, and the keen eye of cinematographer Vasco Viana, who turns the open streets of Athens into a jungle for the protagonist to navigate. The introspective A Drowning Man was followed by the bombastic Free Period, the double entendre of which I must confess I failed to grasp until the film began. This crowdfunded production is wilfully over the top, and becomes a pastiche of westerns and exploitation films, giving a resolute edge to the often-ignored subject of menstruation and the cost of tampons. The Polish animation The Escape is a mixed bag, with excellent and provoking animation held back by the slow pace and seemingly unending darkness. I hope that the team behind this film give their animation style another try, perhaps with the addition of dialogue. Haud Close to Me is an interesting combination of film, ballet and spoken word that ran the risk of coming off as pretentious, but instead evoked the same feelings one of the better John Lewis Christmas adverts, short, utterly un-ironic, and well put together. The Realm of Deepest Knowing served as an antidote to The Escape, dealing with the tough subject matter in a hopeful and heartfelt way. I had the chance to talk with Seung-Hee Kim who wrote, directed, and animated the film, her second short, who pointed out that despite the film having no dialogue, it is based on a very Korean understanding of the interconnected soul and mind. The hand-drawn animations are charming, and the short is filled with colour and music, and communicate the personality of a work that comes from one person. Jimbo benefits from being a production by short film company Imaculado, and has been working through the short film circuit over the last few months. It is a well-acted and well shot Tarantino-esque picture that retains a clear grasp on the plot, and does well to place the viewer in medias res will quickly building a world and characters. That said, one cannot help but feel Jimbo is less subversive than it thinks it is. Marky’s Bad Week takes the cake as the most twee film on show, using the old trope of a character who we expect to be dense or bumbling, and making him eloquent and relatable. That said Daniel Holmwood did a good job with this film, which was shot on location in Dublin, and Caolfhinn Dunne is eye catching as the yin to yang of the titular character. The evening closed with the German short Nicole’s Cage, an unexpected combination of Terry Gilliam style dark-whimsy, light BDSM, and Cinematography from someone who has been watching too much Wes Anderson. The short is set on a giant ferris wheel that holds a number of flats, which provide the best view in the city, but also take around an hour to rotate to the bottom if the occupant wants to exit. In presenting the viewer with such an absurd scenario, Josef Brandl, who wrote and directed the film can have fun with the plot, which is by turns comic and dark. I hope to see more of his work in the future.