Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Film Devour Short Film Festival - humorous, sinister, compelling storytelling in less than 15 minutes ... with popcorn!

Films under 15 minutes in length. Ireland-based in theme or production. And with picture and sound of a quality to be screened.

Those are the criteria that the eighteen short films had to meet in order to be screened last night in the Black Box on Hill Street. Wails of laughter erupted as the capacity crowd caught the twist in the first film of the evening, James and Stephen Downey’s A Christmas Snooze.

It’s a “gig night for films”, with the stage occupied by a screen with just a few seconds in-between one film ending and the next beginning. A very mixed audience (age and gender) leant against the bar and sat around tables, munching on popcorn. Many of the films’ crew and cast gathered to enjoy their screening and soak up the audience reaction.

Aaron Butler’s Cub Dryes (allegedly a young cousin of Bear Grylls) proved just how dangerous your back garden could be and was typical of the tiny budget creations that were laced with humour, some slow reveals, surprises and compelling storytelling.

Amongst the laughter and the surreal stories were some darker, more sinister shorts like Robert Kelly’s Bulldog Girl which explores what happens when a well-groomed “dog breeder meets the mechanic from hell”. A couple of last night’s shorts picked up the theme of the First World War.

The audience voted for their favourites on the back of their programmes, with Campbell Millar’s Christmas 1944 German vignette Respite at Christmas coming top, and mock documentary The Realm of Error by David Shaw & Wes Lowry in second place.

My favourite from the first half was the dead pan Barty Carty which won the separate directors’ vote. Directed by John McGovern, Carty is a school principal and chess fanatic. His over-the-top recollections of glorious victories and a particular chess tournament “massacre” overwhelm the young pupils trying out for the new school chess team. Intense, well shot, good sound and not too long.

Congratulations to all eighteen film-makers, and to all the other people in the room who are currently writing, directing and producing low budget films. They make up an enormously talented, creative and largely hidden community.

If you’ve a notion to make a small film, then there are plenty of networking opportunities and people with varying degrees of experience at Film Devour. Details about how to make submissions along are on the festival website. Keep an eye on the Film Devour Facebook page and @FilmDevourSFF Twitter feed for details of the next short film festival evening on 20 April.

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