Canary Wharf Film Festival review: Short Film UK

By John Hill on September 2, 2008 12:50 PM |

John Hill samples the UK's top film-making talent


Why so serious, guys?

It's been an overcast summer, sure, but there's a definite air of glumness among the Brit entries at this year's Canary Wharf Film Festival. But I'd much rather be inspired than cheered up any day.

The 2008 programme features sick children, young criminals, doomed relationships, angry young men and fed-up professionals. Worse still, there's even a headset-wielding sleazeball thrown in too.

Self-proclaimed King of Cold Calling Michael Watson is the subject of a Quinones Brothers film full of jump cuts and snappy visuals. Cold Calling catches up with the creepy salesman as he tutors a young recruit in his modern-day dark art.

There's also black humour in Daniel Cormack's Nightwalking, which shares the thoughts of a woman walking home alone at night - and also lets us into the head of the guy following her. Lilly LaMia's Bulk Haul is a strange tale of a musician who develops a friendship with a freight train while living next to an East London track, while Adam Laurence returns to the festival for a second year with Recollection, an artistic vision of a future library set up to obsessively record sounds and images from history.

Mark Gillespie lays on the suffering in Breath, a chronicle of a family's pain as it waits for an organ transplant which could save their young daughter. And Lewis Metcalf studies the young male's love affair with violence in Fight.

There's a poignant air to Richard Porter's I Am Here, in which an office worker escapes the drudgery of his week by disappearing into the undergrowth for a day. And Giraffes and Laughs and Feelings and Things may well not have a tear-jerking title, but it's an uniquely-plotted tale of a special friendship that goes for the heart strings like an enthusiastic bell-ringer.

A young boy has a very bad day indeed in Cregan, Steve North's film about a young boy that flees to his brother's house after a nasty experience, but finds an equally-bad one when he gets there. It's not the only film that gets under your skin by trading off the corruption of youth.

Marco Williamson's poetic short was entirely shot in Super 8, melding idyllic home movie-style shots with a very bleak verse about love, the loss of innocence and the burden of knowledge. The children get even scarier in Stolen Youth, which follows a young criminal on an afternoon of mugging, assault, theft, drinking and smoking. But he's not the scariest thing in the sleepy village in which he lives...