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Short Film

A Short Mission: The Little Match Girl

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Christmas is only one week away. This time in seven days you will be, hopefully, surrounded by loved ones, opening presents and eating food that fills you up. Wine will be poured and warmth will fill your soul as though are encompassed with joy and glee. Most importantly love. But as that famous Christmas song goes, say a prayer and spare a thought for those whose Christmas doesn’t exactly mean happiness. Spare a thought for people such as The Little Match Girl.

The Little Match Girl was originally a poem by Hans Christian Anderson, first published in 1845. Here it is created into a vivid yet heart wrenching movie by Walt Disney Studios. Directed by Roger Allers, it tells the story of a little girl in Russia who sells matches on the street to people who hurry by. On a cold and harsh winter’s night, she curls up in a corner with her items and lights them one by one. As she does, she fills her heart and dreams with images of a warming Christmas – one that features the spirit of her Grandmother.

Poetic. That is the thoughts of this short movie. Although, there are stark differences to the original tale (mainly the location and the overbearing father in the beginning). But the movie is steeped in an outstanding score and a beautiful animation. For six breathless minutes, gaze at this enchanting bitter sweet story, and give thanks you aren’t in the cold. The Little Match Girl is an incredible and moving piece.

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Short Film

A Short Mission: Treevenge

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Humour me, imagine that you are a Christmas Tree.

Not the plastic ones you can get in every store from September, the proper ones that you grow from the ground. You spend your whole life growing in a forest with your family and loved ones. From the minute you are a sapling to the great conifer, you are happy and content, no matter what the weather. And then, when the snow falls, merciless men come into your home and cut you down. They trim you and burn those small and weak. Slaying your family, you are taken much against your cries and forced into strange homes; decorated against your will. Would you be angry? Would you want….Treevenge?

Yer Dead and Twitch production companies teamed up together in 2009 for an epically hilarious and especially gory movie centring on the rise of Christmas trees. From the true monsters of lumberjacks, coming manically in to chop down the trunks of the trees and to the humans who fail to hear the cries of the innocent trees. There is anger here and it will be avenged.

The reason Treevenge is so dangerously good is because it throws intense satire on the horror genre and becomes a gleeful exercise that mirrors films more like Evil Dead. It is lovingly crafted as a genius affair that boasts lashings of blood and borders on the absurd side of gruesome. Much like the ferns themselves, it is relentless in its giddy brutality and that makes it even more enjoyable. There may be scenes here that feel misplaced and cheap. But that’s the point. It is mocking and trashy but wholly enjoyable.

Although, you may be a bit more tentative placing the presents under the tree this year…..

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Short Film

A Short Mission: Dark Times

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Well, more like the apocalypse in this holiday themed short, Dark Times.

Interestingly shot in POV format, Dark Times follows a Christmas Party at a nuclear power plant in Tallahasse (note the reference). When the plant goes into meltdown, The lead and others (including a festive Father Christmas) battle for survival against an unknown end of the world situation that provides it ample share of explosions and zombies to boot. Fast paced and ferocious, this grim look at the will to survive is perforated by Christmas and nods to remind you just how depressing it will all be if monsters attacked to ruin the yuletide celebrations.

Directors Peter Horn & Jared Marshall deliver quite the witty/scary movie that delights with the interesting set up and fully immerses us into the sheer terror of running around a forest from an unknown evil. And while we’re there, we get the chance to become a zombie and feel what it is like in the hot seat of an infected dead person, running around after victims. The end is a bit ambiguous and it presents nothing really new to the genre except from the vivid point of view. There is a smattering of guts and plenty of action packed in nicely under five minutes.

It’s enjoyable.

It’s festive.

What more do you need this week?

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Short Film

A Short Mission: The Making of Longbird

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The relationship a writer, director and animator may have with their character is a troubled one. We have this love hate with them; they represent something really special to us but sometimes they have a mind of their own; controlling us and taking us down paths in our imagination. In this animated mockumentary, directors Will Anderson and Ainsle Henderson, bring to life a complex character named Longbird in this BAFTA Winning short – The Making Of Longbird.

The short relates the tale of a lost Russian film and character that a plucky young director wishes to bring back and modernise for new audiences. However, when he finally reanimates him, Longbird is nothing but a short and rude thespian who is constantly critical of Will’s work. As the two battle against each other, Will finds that attempting to bring a beloved character to other people may be more complicated than he first thought.

The Making of Longbird is particularly inventive injecting a breath of minty fresh air into telling the story. Combining many animation techniques and a great script (despite what the bird says) Henderson and Anderson invigorate a cartoon character, allowing him to jump off the screen. Utilizing different effects, close ups and realistic echoes, it opens the audience into a process that is unseen and gives it the film that documentary feel. Given the difficulty of bringing an original character and making him fresh, the crew here create an antagonist that is as rightfully peeved as he is annoying. While we may feel sorry for Will for having to put up with such a stuffed up bird, Longbird has his own iconic presence; feeling miffed that an artist feels he has all control over him. The sparring between the pair is just as delightful as the crude, but brilliant, animation.

Longbird is a delightfully witty concept that combines nostalgia and modernisation and hopefully he will crop up to ruin your movie hopes some time soon.

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Short Film

A Short Mission: Sushi Chefs vs Sea Monsters in Monster Roll

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It feels like writing about Monster Roll is cheating. While it is technically a short movie, there is a story behind it as it is actually a predecessor to a larger full feature movie. That’s not to say we can’t enjoy Monster Roll as it is now, because it is bloody hilarious and hot on the action.

They say that man has had a long standing agreement with the sea; to kill only what he eats. However, when the sea is slowly destroyed by man and gets wind that it is killing more than what is actuall eaten, it is understandable that a wave of anger takes over. Attacking the city, it is up to a band of Sushi chefs to tackle them with this wickedly sharp and already funny teaser/short.

Filmmaker Dan Blank creates a movie in a similar tongue in cheek (or sushi in cheek,) fashion to action movies such as Ghostbusters and Rush Hour. Quips and jokes a plenty but also some pretty realistic monsters coming back from the sea. With an eclectic group of sushi chefs and a dig at popular culture, Monster Roll is set to be an excellent feature. It’s quite a shame that the teaser is all we have because it ends with you hungry for more. And Dan Blank is sailing on promising seas…

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Short Film

A Short Mission: ColourBleed

colourbleed

Sometimes, in movies, story has been substituted for style, and focusing on the visuals can detriment the whole effect of the movie. ColourBleed suffers somewhat from this, but luckily, what it doesn’t have in plot, it makes up for with sweeping and beautiful effects.

It tells the tale of a colourful punk rock girl living in the drib and drab world of Eastern Europe. Distracted by her imagination and the finer details in life, a worker in an office stamps her hand and with it, gives her a power that is equally gruesome and beautiful.

From director, Peter Szewczyk, the film is teeming with some outrageously fabulous images. Working on different computer effects and engaging us with a whole multitude of the spectrum, Szewczyk’s vision is a teaser for a mind that is submerged in astonishing detail.

The hope here is that ColourBleed is just a teaser because it all feels like it is floating along with its prettiness and not really going anywhere. There isn’t a grounded heart to the movie that evokes you in anyway and there is a little disappointment when it ends because it never rounds off nicely or leads you to a truly convincing story.

That being said, you can enjoy ColourBleed for having the upper hand of its visuals. Indeed, here, beauty is only skin deep but that beauty is a masterpiece of pallets and art.

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Short Film

A Short Mission: Status Update

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In this day and age, social media is controlling everything. In fact, a lot of people can’t find more than a minute’s peace without flicking on their phone and updating a status (“I’m not doing anything #bored #lols #depressingnewsocialnorm.”) Dinner parties have now extra guests, cinema trips are littered with lights popping up out the corner of our eye and many people have been fired because they can no longer focus without popping up a tweet.

What happens when all those idiotic moanings and tiresome wishes become real? That is the basis of this funny short, Status Update. When office worker Allan’s computer is struck by lightning, he finds that everything he updates on his status becomes true and he uses this to his heart’s content.

Daniel Reisinger’s short comedy film is a brilliant tongue in cheek look at media. It is fast and ferocious. And it is more appealing than just a string of sex and dick jokes. Clever and well made, Reisinger has poured a lot of resources (and a few punts at Kim Kardashian) to create a montage that is technically outstanding and pretty darn hilarious. It’s not perfect and there are some cheap gags that lull uncomfortably in your stomach. But more importantly, you will chortle, guffaw and laugh along with Reisingers punchy movie.

Status Update: This movie is fantastic.

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Short Film

A Short Mission: Fear of Flying

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The coldness has finally set in. Winter is here and we have all wrapped up warm. And as they always do during winter months, the birds have flown south for warmer climates. Well, all birds except Dougal. Unfortunately for Dougal, he has a fear of flying. This delightful animated short called Fear of Flying by Conor Finnegan is a quirky and brisk comedy about a bird who would rather shack up and brace the cold rather than follow his sweetheart to the Sunny South. When things go pear shaped for him, Dougal must face his fear rather than fight it.

Combining different bits of animation from 2D to puppetry, Conor Finnegan has told a brilliant story that is funny and charming all at the same time. Winner of many awards at prestigious film festivals, Fear of Flying has captivated audiences everywhere with a unique and bright animation style. Finnegan using a combination of puppets, sticks, cartoon backgrounds and after effects to make the story come to life. It seems like a simple movie but the depth of the animation makes it truly unique. With some utterly delightful characters and voices (from Mark Doherty, Aoife Duffin & Steven Courtney) it all comes together in this amusing short.

You can’t help but smile and giggle along with Fear of Flying and many will look forward to more from Finnegan, because with this, he is already flying high.

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Short Film

A Short Mission: How To Be Alone

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Being alone is perhaps the thing that people are most afraid of and coming up to Christmas that fear is resonated in us all.

Will we be with our loved ones or will we face it alone? If it all seems a little bit daunting, then watch How To Be Alone, a charming short film by filmmaker Andrea Dorfman and poet/songwriter Tanya Davis with a warming message for everyone.

Set to a beautiful beat and with some incredible animation How To Be Alone follows a little quirky poem with how to enjoy the world on your lonesome. Although the cinematography may be amateur, it is the message in this short film that resonates with you. It isn’t a patronising short film either, saying that being alone is wrong. Nor is it saying that being with people is bad either.

In fact, it just allows us to cherish the one person we’ve been with whole of our lives; ourselves. It makes being alone feel more comfortable, teaches us how to relax without feeling pressured into going out because it is the social norm. What the two have done is not only create a beautiful poem and a film with quirky animation to suit the wonders, but instead of telling us that being singular and unaccompanied is hollow and cold, How To Be Alone will make you appreciate yourself. It’s beautiful and will certainly warm you up this winter time.

Because being alone doesn’t mean you are lonely…

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Short Film

A Short Mission: The Maker

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There is something that is always so magical about stop motion animation. It is definitely a difficult craft, yet produces some kind of spooky, enchanting and phenomenal cinema. The problem with stop motion animation is there isn’t enough appreciation for it. Of course, there are popular movies such as The Nightmare Before Christmas but no one takes time out to marvel at just how much brilliance and dedication artists put into their work. It is one of the oldest forms of filmmaking and although its popularity has been lost due to the emergence of computers, there is still a special place for it.

In Christopher KezelosThe Maker a true masterpiece of stop motion animation comes breathing through the fantastical piece. The Maker is about a strange creature who is on a time limit. He must create something beautiful in the passing seconds. Set to an outstanding score, The Maker is a majesty of filmmaking.

It seems almost effortless but it is captivating and striking. It represents so many different themes in this innocent quirkiness. The Maker expresses the fleeting seconds of life, the passion for your work and loved ones. All in a matter of minutes, this almost fairy-tale is brought to life and it looks just so stunning. The Maker is marvellous in that it was created by earnest and devoted artists who used the internet to communicate, uniting London, Australia and Ohio.

This is hands down one of the best shorts of this year, charming and eloquent with golden hearted stitching.

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Short Film

A Short Mission: Bewilderbeast

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You may have noticed that there has been a slow decline into extreme cinema becoming more mainstream. With the descent into Kick Ass popularity and cult favourites such as Fight Club still being on our highly charged minds, the bloody and brutal genre of a films have become somewhat unoriginal; dumbed down for violence over substance, frights over true gore.

Here, in under twenty five minutes, director Balder Skånstrøm-Bo gives a new and unique take on extreme cinema altogether with the outstanding Bewilderbeast.

Steeped in astonishing cinematography, Bewilderbest is a film about hidden bloodlust and psychopathic behaviour. Mad’s is living the plain white aristocrat life with his girlfriend and her parents. When she falls pregnant, Mad’s is urged to film the inner workings of an anarchic sect that plans on destroying the world in order to rebuild it again.

Skanstrom-Bo delivers an exciting and interesting short film that mirrors the workings of Park Chan-wook and David Fincher. Certainly, the directing and the presentation here are astonishing well done. Astute and attentive, Skanstrom-Bo creates a film that is beautiful and horrific at the same time.

What’s more though, Bewilderbeast is an utterly intelligent piece that does not give into the tropes of predecessors before. In fact, it challenges the themes; setting up stereotypes in order to smash through them. The “protagonist” Mad’s represents an unnerving needs for gore and to complete heinous acts. As we drift through his thoughts to the present, we journey through an almost frustrated killer who balances anger and the urge to kill with his near pristine life. Skanstrom-Bo encapsulates that well but instead of leading us down the same path, he twists and turns through the tale while still manage to splatter a few brains on the floor.

Bewilderbeast is perhaps extreme because it is an exercise in emotions we have all struggled with. What it isn’t is predictable or dull, it is highly intelligent, stylish and Skanstrom-Bo has no doubt kicked off a long and impressive career.

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Short Film

A Short Mission: Paperman

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In another Oscar winning film, Paperman captivated a lot of audiences last year and this. Showed as a preview before Walt Disney Studios film, Wreck-It Ralph, Paperman proved that not only can a short film vastly improve the feature it’s connected with but could also be one of the best animations of all time. Seriously, that good.

Paperman is a sweet romantic story set in the heart of New York City. On the way to his boring job, George bumps into the beautiful Meg after one of his papers wraps around her face. Captivated by this young woman and the lipstick stain on his work, George is amazed to find that she actually works across the street. To get her attention, George sends over a series of paper planes with hilarious results.

The genius here is the expressive use of the pencil. Using the hand-drawn style that Walt Disney Studios is famed for, in less than five minutes they prove why they are the masters of the genre. Able to highlight a range of emotions for our characters, Paperman is poignant and great. With such a fantastic score by Christophe Beck, there is nothing that doesn’t engross you and warm your heart.

John Kars, director, has created an ingenious short film. It is nothing short of breath-taking, with the ability to take you into the story and leave you rooting for George. Paperman is romantic and innocent with such a stunning end that will give you goosebumps.

A small work of art.

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