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UK Film Council Completion Fund Shorts ’09 **

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The UKFC manages a fund to finance the completion of short films of outstanding potential which have hit a monetary brick wall – to the tune of £70,000 across two rounds each year. At the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2009, a collection of six were shown – the first batch for this year. Having made the schoolboy error of strolling into the wrong press screening, I found myself pleasantly surprised by the calibre of these shorts (if terribly confused by the absence of nuns).

BaleBale, by Al Mackay, tells the story of a disturbing encounter between young boys and their teenage peers, in a somnambulant and visually exquisite style. Over the brief running time, several interesting performances are packed in (including the reticent actor whose name I cannot recall, but who starred in Summer as the son of Daz [Steve Evets]), and several indelible images are burned.

TogetherTogether, by Eicke Bettinga and Zorana Piggott, is based around the relationship of a young man and his emotionally crumpled father, struggling to come to terms with the loss of their brother and son. Another mesmeric film, and although it is built on one central moment (an absurd and tragic counterpoint to the usual reconciliatory schmaltz), the protagonist with his bizarre, handsome/hunchback charisma, is sufficiently compelling to carry the premise.

The Hardest PartAnd The Hardest Part, by Oliver Refson, is a tragicomic limerick of a film, regarding the talent of a forgotten television actor in the face of obnoxious youth. Its parody of Guy Ritchie owes a slight debt to Nathan Barley, but this is no bad thing. And all together, it is a spiriting and genuinely funny short story.

One frustrating thing was the unnecessarily jarring use of music both in interlude and at credits – seemingly a hamartic trait of these shorts. A little peace would have been welcome between the intensity of such work. Beside such minor quibbles, I left ambivalent about the whole affair – enamored of the films described; bored and bemused by The Elemental, The Chapel, Furnace Four. Not altogether an unpleasant surprise, then.


UK Film Council Short Film Completion Fund 2009/I, Dir. Various, Prod. MayaVision International, UK, 2009

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