Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Richmond Rd Short Film Festival

I saw the Richmond Rd Short Film Festival last Sat 24 March. Nicely done event. Outdoor screening so I hauled along my cushion, jackets and rugs but on getting there I find that this one has seats! Yay! The films were:

"A Very Nice Honeymoon" by Jeff and Phill Simmonds. Ironic title. About the film-makers' great grandparents' experience of a shipwreck. Animated film in something of the same technical style and production values that you would see in commercial cartoons on TV, but turned to a quite different genre and purpose, and very effective because of that. Its documentary approach leads the audience by degrees to an amazing and emotionally poignant final interview. IMO this film well deserved its audience choice award.

"Brown Peril - The Tim Porch Story" - dir Jarrod Holt and Nigel McCulloch. This was the winner of last year's NZ 48 Hours so I've seen it a lot, but I am always amazed by the number of comedy elements that these people have piled on in layers. The main story is a goodie in itself yet it seems that in every moment they can heap on more and more outrageous and eccentric detail. This won lots of awards at this show and there should be another award for an acceptance speech that was in itself a high energy comedy performance.

"Oh Deer" by Chung Min Moon. Animated fantasy film in an east Asian style. I thought the artwork was good but the rather minimal very computer-animated movement needed something like the human touch of Len Lye's movies. To be fair to the film-makers I'll admit I was seeing this only a few days after the Auckland Festival Len Lye screening so they had a hard act to follow. With my head even more full of Len Lye than usual, "Oh Deer" was like "Tusalava" without the "zizz".

"Night Vision" dir Zoe MacIntosh. An documentary which I found effective because of a sense of the film-maker's empathy with her subjects.

"The Customer is Always Trite" dir Greydon Little. Humourous observation of the passing parade of supermarket customers from the point of view of a checkout operator.

"Rope" dir Adam Luxton and Jeremy Dumble. An brief incident of attempted suicide gives some narrative structure to what is mainly an exercise in art direction, lighting, photography, and intense acting performance.

"Life after Death" by Guy Capper and Jemaine Clement. Pub philosophers mouthing off with the great original touch that these are animated plasticene sheep. A little like the Aardman productions. Stacks up well in comparison to "Creature Comforts".

"Uso" dir Miki Magasiva. Effective comedy of 2 young men hanging out by a phone box. Great character performances. I nominate "Uso" as the local answer to "Waiting for Godot".

"The Speaker" dir, prod, writ. Tearepa, Savage, Quinton Hita. Slice of life story of a politically motivated tagger and his Maori activist peer group achieves in-depth portrayal of characters who came across to me as struggling in a remarkably real way with their conflicting loyalties and the peer pressure to be "staunch".

"The Knock" dir Miles Murphy, prod Simon Ranginui, writ. Nick Ward. Very stylish horror movie from the NZ Film Commission initiative to make shorts with high production values. Effective intense performances and a surprise ending about which I could say "what I would expect for this genre" but I can only say that in retrospect. Winner of "Best Film" in this competition.

"Chop Off" dir Grant Lahood. Some of the slapstick elements of classic silent comedy grace this strange but original piece about a wood-chopping contest. The logline says "epic battle between young and old" and I felt afterwards that more could have been done to show that. IMO the visual comedy was built more around the competition equipment than around the theme.

A good show giving a great snapshot of short film-making. I came away with the encouraging feeling that IAFILM is operating at an equal level. There seems to be a common element of quirky plot surprises echoed by visual elements running through these. If I read that right our current production "Love Song to Super-8" should stack up well in this kind of company.

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