Encounters Short Film Festival 2017

Encounters Short Film Festival, Award Winners Screening 2017

The award winners’ screening is a chance to catch the best of the Encounters Short Film Festival. This year, as with last year, women featured strongly in the majority of films, and many in leading, rather than supporting roles. Proving yet again, that whilst women may still be in the minority in the mainstream film world, they are breaking through in short films. Judging by this year’s festival, the future is bright for female film making.

The theme of migration dominated last year’s festival. This year’s festival was more upbeat, with some rich humour punctuating the themes of communication and isolation.

Lost, an animation made by Sophie Dutton and Jake Harvey, in 48 hours, opened the screening with a cute and funny short story about a dog rescuing a baby lost in a wood.

Winner of the Chris Collins Best of British Award, We Love Moses, a live action short made by Bristolian Dionne Edwards, is a confident portrayal of the tricky lives of teenagers. This film explores relationships and sexuality in a humorous and humane way. Strong acting, a great script and a distinctive style of direction create a real sense of intimacy between character and audience. We Love Moses deserves to reach large audiences.

The lightness of earlier pieces is continued in The Good Mother by Sara Clift. A UK/Mexican production, this Audience Award winner is a hilarious middle finger to Donald Trump and his anti-Mexican rhetoric. The eponymous matriarch seeks to buy her son the perfect piñata present for his birthday. Cue scenes that would make Trump’s brillo pad hair curl even more.

The Silent Child, by Chris Overton, winner of Deaf Shorts Showcase Award, is a memorable and moving film about who is best placed to make decisions about a deaf child. The cinematography is exquisite: misty autumn countryside and washed out colours stand as metaphors for the lack of understanding and communication of the parents in regard to their child. The viewer watches in discomfort as scenes unfold - the child blossoms as her nanny teaches her to communicate in sign language - a language that the parents feel is excluding them; the parents send her to a mainstream school and the viewer witnesses her isolation in the playground as she is unable to communicate with the other children.

This film poses the point that hearing parents may not the best people to make decisions regarding their non-hearing offspring. The statistics at the end of the film present the stark reality: over 78% of deaf children attend mainstream schools with little or no support. 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents. Who knows what is best for a child?

Samantha Coughlan © September 2017

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