To London, Islington, the Florence Tavern. Clive’s collaborator in The Vanished and independent film-maker in his own right, Keith Eyles had put together a night of shorts in a friendly Norf Londun boozer, and I was there for to show support. One of Keith’s films had Leading Man Clive in a supporting role, and he was also showing Simon’s latest collaborative effort with Ben Green–the boxing vignette Why I Fight.
It was an esoteric evening’s entertainment, which Keith admitted at the beginning was kind of the point. A deliberately wide range of subjects and genre. But there was some level of common ground. For example, Mark Brown and Phil Haine’s Stalker was a chamber piece where an obsessed girl changes her mind about the subject of her attention. The stalkee is less than pleased about the downgrade. The dark comedy at play here was typical of the tone we’d see through the evening, and a credit to Keith’s curatorship.
Geoffrey Sautner and Emily McMehan’s Transmission For Year 0 was more of an art piece than a short film, although the central conceit of crumbling coastal wartime installations communicating with each other through failing radio wavelengths had a certain something. With a voiceover from the one and only Iain Sinclair, this was more watchable and thought-provoking than you’d think.
Simon and Ben’s Why I Fight was a boxer’s manifesto, short and sharp as a set of blows to the torso. The script was an answer to the question set out in the title, and Ben’s narration was terse and overblown all at once. A fighter’s poetry. Slam verse.
Keith’s two films were short versions of features in progress. A little rough round the edges, but the ideas are rock solid. Blood Right tells the tale of an adoption gone nasty, when even the two parties that commit the ultimate heist are lying to each other. As a short, it was too compressed to work properly. As a pitch for a feature? Absolutely.
James Rumsey’s Milk Man had a great idea – a loner watching the world through CCTV gets dragged back into reality despite his best efforts – but it was marred by technical problems which meant we never saw the end of the film. A disappointment, and I’ll be mailing him for a review copy to see how he resolves it.
(UPDATE: James has posted a working link to the film, and jolly good it is too! See the whole thing here.)
After a short intermission, we were back in with Flora Bradwell’s gem of a mockumentary, Righting. The story of a guy that fixes the busted signage around his neighbourhood, it managed to be wry, quirky sweet and hugely funny. Flora’s a painter, but she makes one heck of a film-maker on this showing.
Kahinde Fadipe’s Spirit Children kept up the quality with a wordless piece about two homeless children stealing a baby for their mentally disturbed mother. Gorgeous, moving and shocking, this shows that the Misfits actress has a bright, brave future behind the camera.
The second film from Phil Haines, I Am Lonely, was a wry take on the zompocalpse, as a guy literally bored his housemate to the other side. A cracking script from Johnathon Brown and a great performance from Matt Prendegast as the awful Chris made this a standout for me.
Keith’s second film, Driven Insane, was a smart look at identity theft, and the dangers of stepping into someone else’s shoes. Again, a pitch for a bigger project, this felt more complete as a short film. Clive made a fine torturer here, and he suits a clown mask.
(MORE UPDATE: My bad. As he makes clear in the comments, Clive wasn’t in the clown mask. Wishful thinking on my part, I guess…)
The evening was rounded off with The Lighter. This Clemens Brothers short gets through seven genres in as many minutes, and features the voice of the suavest Bond. A romantic comedy with a blokey edge. It was a cheeky, hilarious treat, and a great way to finish off.
The evening was well thought out and, technical problems not withstanding, trouble free. There were scheduling issues. I’ll gripe about the late start and finish simply because, being based out in the sticks, a late finish means a late slow train home. That’s not Keith’s problem of course, but running to schedule is always appreciated if you’re coming into town specially.
But that’s a minor gripe about what was otherwise an eye-opening and entertaining evening. Worth the late night, definitely.