Friday, 8 June 2018

Indie Flicks - Lock 91, Deansgate, Manchester.

IndieFlicks is a year-old monthly short film festival showing a range of short films from around the world showcasing these films in Manchester, Liverpool, London and Sheffield over the course of a night.  So how does it work? Is there a general theme? And most importantly is there free popcorn!?
First let’s start with the venue: this month’s Manchester showing was held in Lock 91, a charming former lockhouse conveniently located at Deansgate Locks within the city centre. The ‘cinema’ itself was a converted attic lined with a mismatch of wooden chairs and a projector screen at one end of the room. Our welcoming host explained the structure of the festival. There were to be six films in total shown over the evening, five shorts each under 15 minutes followed by a short break and a vote for ‘The People’s Choice Award’ - obviously chosen by the audience in attendance. There was then a Q&A with one of the directors (whose film and identity were kept secret in order to keep the votes impartial) followed by the Director’s Choice feature short.

Generally there were a wide range of different films on display with each conveying a different theme or moral to the audience. The first ‘No Room For Grey’ by Tom Middleton and Jack Scott was a satirical mockumentary exploring the theme of racism, whilst also touching upon the representation of gang feuds in council blocks in the media. ‘The Old Woman And The Sea’ by Wolfgang Purkhauser is a simple clay animation story about catching fish that could easily be mistaken for a bit of fun, rather it explores the idea of greed through humour and uses music to move the story forward. Next was ‘Trolley’ by Oscar Adams which I felt to be the most though-provoking and absorbing piece of the evening. It portrayed a day in the lives of  two strangers whose lives cross within a coffee shop and is full of symbolism which invites the audience to formulate their own interpretations. Joesph Simmons' ‘Waveform’ was possibly the most disappointing of the evening, telling the somewhat confusing story of a computer named Arthur and a number of seamlessly unimportant people. Despite some captivating locations and striking cinematography the narrative felt weak and unclear. The Q&A with Simmons did little to clear up my insecurities about the dramatic intentions behind the piece.

Although heartfelt and captivating, ‘La Cumbre’ by Dana Romanoff (The Summit in Spanish) felt somewhat like a sports advert. Being produced for an NGO that supplies prosthesis for the disabled within developing countries it felt somewhat out of place with the rest of the films shown, both for its purpose and predictability. The usual themes of hardship and determination were covered, with the title alone suggesting some kind of journey – representative of both the events that unfold and the life of the main subject Kathy Pico, an Ecuadorian native who lost her leg to cancer at age 38.
By now some of the shortfalls of the venue had become evident. Most unfortunatley the resolution of the projector was slightly wrong so at times some of the image was cut off from the screen and the sound wasn’t too clear during one or two of the film. The break, therefore. was a welcome time to stretch and discuss the films so far, and reflect on the lack of popcorn!

‘Memoire’ by Sergei Kalvarskii was a somewhat disappointing end to the evening, with the most unclear narrative. Being the director’s choice I had expected something that would capture my attention rathe than allowing my mind to wander

In my opinion I feel that an overall theme to the films shown would have helped focus the evening a little more, although it was definitely a positive experience, with Indie Films still very much in the first stages of trying to establish themselves I feel that their best is yet to come.

Reviewers - Aaron Loughrey and Aaron Burton
on - 6/6/18

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