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London Short Film Festival 2022: Three Films We Loved…

London is a city filled with innovative storytelling, through music, art, film there is always a way found to present every avenue of life. London Short Film Festival 2022 curated a selection of short films submitted from all over the globe, with over 600 films screened across the week. This year’s slogan was “‘What Golden Joys Do We Need Now’ devised by international Programmer Qila Gil and an Industry programme curated by T A P E Collective, reflecting the power of creativity and an ethos that brings together stories and people from all walk of life.

Focusing on underrepresented groups within communities, each film was a selection of powerful messages that resonated with you wherever you come from, with respective filmmakers like Farah Nabulsi, Aneil Karia, Bryan M. Ferguson, and the collaborations between Canadian actors/directors Anna Maguire, Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli, we picked out our top three selections from the week that will make you think of story-telling differently.

Submissions for the 2023 festival open on February 9th, so be sure to get involved in one of London’s best-kept festivals.

I hear you; I see you, I speak of you.

Curated by Qila Gil, this collection of 4 international short films speaks to the intricacies of community. Through these stories, we explore displacement, family ties, and belonging as we journey across the world and into the lives of many. Kristian Mercado’s Nuevo Rico (2021) explores the relationship between two twins who dream of becoming Reggaeton stars. When this wish is granted by a tricky messenger god, their newfound reggaeton superstardom severely tests their seemingly unbreakable bond. Mercado expertly tells a story of the cost of fame through a perfect blend of fantasy, comedy and drama sprinkled with noteworthy songs and trippy animation.

Vastly different, Three Songsfor Benazir (2021), is a documentary that follows Shaista, a young Afghan man over 4 years; we watch as his hopes of serving his country conflict with his obligations to his new wife and family. What’s beautiful about this short is how directors Elizabeth and Gulistan Mirzaei centralise the love Shaista feels for his wife - though a harrowing tale of displacement and lack of opportunity, at its heart it’s a love story.

BabyBangz (2021) is equally as enchanting and noteworthy, particularly standing out for its beautiful visuals and intimate directing. In another documentary, this time we follow Anastasia Ebel, the owner of black hair salon ‘BabyBangz' in New Orleans. Issues of community, race, gentrification, and self-love are explored as Anastasia and other black women who situate the hair salon reflect on their lives, journeys, and neighbourhood. Through this 11-minute short, director Juliana Kasumu perfectly portrays the space of safety, inner reflection, and black female empowerment that Anastasia has cultivated with BabyBangz - these black women are given a space to speak freely and this short demand we listen.

Another stand-out film, The Miniaturist of Junagadh (2021) explores the consequences of displacement and international relations on families. The short film places us in 1947 India, right at the backdrop of the Partition as we follow Husyn Naqqash, a former miniaturist, and his family as they reluctantly sell their ancestral home to a cold buyer and move to Pakistan. From the devastation caused by colonialism to familial bonds, director Kaushal Oza’s beautiful cinematography and apt use of music enhance the moving plot, alongside the excellent acting performances given by the cast. Between all these 4 films, we are taken on an emotional and reflective journey, one that serves to teach us all something about kinship, community, and hope.

Words By Keisha Asamoah

Disparate Youth

This showcases a collection of compelling short films that capture the tumultuous journey of adolescence. Spanning across several different countries, each short highlights the battles that young people face when coming to terms with their identities, whilst navigating their fears of the future and the uncertainties that surround it. The collection succeeds in depicting the added dissonance created during this time resulting from factors such as class, capital, and parental permission.

While each short centres around youth, they all provide a unique look into the various trials faced on the road to independence. However, the element of relatability is never lost. Techno, Mama, by Saulius Baradinskas, features Lithuanian teen Nikita, who is raised in a low-income household by his single mother. As time passes, he questions his identity and craves the freedom his mother is seemingly holding him back from.

Be Somebody directed by Edelawit Hussein, takes place in Ethiopia and follows friends Tefera, Yoni, and Omar as they take a road trip and ponder on their careers and the future. They anxiously consider the possibilities that could exist for them beyond their city, Addis Ababa.

Set in the UK, I Am Good At Karate directed by Jess Dadds addresses the effects of mental health and negative self-talk on a young teen in an alternative way. In this short, depression is portrayed as a large demon created out of football shirts that follows the main character, shrouding him in negativity and self-doubt. Throughout the film, he learns how to fight his inner demons and assures himself that he is not his depression.

Garças, directed by Gabriela Nobre, takes place in Portugal during a sweltering hot summer. Freshly out of surgery, the short encapsulates the pains and growing frustrations that protagonist Gabriela feels at the arrival of her parent's friends, and the reduced attention she receives as a result.

Antiotpad by Tin Zanic follows Robi, a Croatian teen living in Zagreb. His summer days are often filled with violence and mischief, and while his impulsive behaviour may insinuate that he is the catalyst for these events, viewers are not given a definitive answer.

Fardosa, a coming-of-age short by Rukia Mohamed, Iqlaas Osman, and Anton Tammi beautifully captures the power of friendship and sisterhood. Grappling with fear, parasomnias, and the juggling of different identities, Finnish-Somali teen Fardosa finds solace and an escape through the time spent with her best friends.

Words By Miatta Coomber

Black Country: Black Regionality on Film

The London Short Film Festival was filled with new takes on identity. Particularly, the films shown by TAPE Collective on black regionalism in film pushed the audience to reflect on black identity outside of London. Black Country: Black Regionality on Film curated by TAPE Collective and shown at Four Corners was a celebration of black voices across the UK. Through its inclusion of works from diverse and creative filmmakers, the audience was exposed to a new kind of meaning of Black-British identity.

Filmmakers like Ndrika Anyika emphasised the hardships of not being liked or wanted, particularly as a black woman. Her film, Home, beautifully highlighted the intricate balance of fitting in and pleasing your parents as a rebellious teenager.

Fragments by Adekemi Roluga showed the struggles many biracial people face with their identity and the damage it causes to one’s mental health. Zane Igbe showcased the disparity between traditional African parents and the acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community in Sweet Mother.

The arduous decisions many African immigrants are forced to make are explored in Expensive Shit by Aura Onashile, while Yero Timi-Biu gives a voice to those small clusters of black people found even in the tiniest British towns in 0.5%.

What made the short films stand out, however, was the inclusion of archival footage. Dotted in the beginning, middle, and end of the showings was footage that prompted thought on the image of Black women, immigration, and the reach of Black identity. The films had one theme in common: the livelihood of Black British people portray some similarities, regardless of location.

Words By Cora-Jane Jordan

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