Tuesday, September 17, 2019

BFI London Film Festival Short Film Reviews - Create Strand

Here are some quick takes on short films showing in the Create strand of this year's BFI London Film Festival.

#21XOXO is a wonderfully imaginative and scarily spot on satire on dating in the digital age. The animated short by Sine and Imge Ozbilge is really visually inventive, melding social media logos onto its protagonist, and showing in a last act twist how even when she flips to "real" video footage her self-image is mediated by this online distortion. Great 80s-style synth pop soundtrack too. Running time 9 minutes.

ALGO-RHYTHM is a 14 minute Senagalese hip-hop musical that bizarrely, wittily and completely speaks to life in Brexit Britain and Trump's America! It embodies social media in a slick hip-hop artist who boasts how he knows everything about us and can harvest our votes with the most subtle of methods. Like #21XOXO and SWATTED the director cleverly intersperses live action with graphically distorted cyber-visuals that suggest a disturbing mix between the real and the online.  The resulting film is like the funky imaginative PSA we all needed in 2015.

SWATTED is a really disturbing but brilliantly imagined 21 minute short about cyber-harassment in the online gaming world by Ismael Joffroy Chandoutis.  I had no idea what swatting was, but apparently it's when cyber bullies call the real world police with a fake threat in order to have a SWAT team break into and generally scare the shit out of their victims.  This strikes me as horrifically juvenile and such a waste of police time, as well as clearly traumatic to the victims. Chadoutis shows this phenomenon by inter-cutting chatroom dialogue as swat attacks are actually happening, with video game footage that seemingly depicts the attacks. However, rather than taking the footage as is from Grand Theft Auto, he kind of hollows it out into a creepy surreal wire-frame world. We also get voiceover from swatter victims.  The results are really beautifully imagined and surreal, and still so human and disturbing.  It's truly a profound and provocative piece showing real technical skill but also crucially the ability to balance that with deep emotion.

THE SASHA is a 20 minute film about the astronaut Charles Duke, who landed on the Moon with Apollo XVI and photographed its surface. Seeing all the old black and white photographs and colour video footage of the mission was an absolute treat. It makes the point that Duke failed to take a picture of the entire earth from space - an iconic photo taken during the next mission - however he WAS remembered for the family photo he left on the moon.  We also get some interesting stuff about the evolution of lunar photography.  But I could have really done without the pontificating narrator Tania Theodoru, especially about half way through the doc when it goes off into some kind of disquisition on the nature of the space. There's just a little too much indulgence in the final five minutes altogether, and I'm always nervous when directors (in this case Maria Molina Peiro) try to ascribe motive and reactions to people when they can't possibly know if that were the case.

No comments:

Post a Comment