Hot weather? Then you’re going to be needing some shorts

  • 2011-05-25
  • By Laurence Boyce

SHORT AND SWEET: Local films alongside those from around the world combine at this short film festival to offer some really great viewing.

RIGA - The 2Annas International Short Film Festival, currently taking place in Riga, presents an intriguing selection of short films from across the world. The festival shows that short films can push the artistic boundaries of cinema, often providing a chance to see something much different than what we may be used to seeing in mainstream cinema. It’s also the chance to get a first glimpse of those who will go on to lead the way in cinema for future generations. And, let’s not forget that many short films are wonderfully made and brilliantly entertaining, so there’s no excuse not to check out some of the delights that 2Annas has to offer.

The International Competition throws up a number of great films, including the truly superb Romanian film “The Cage.” With a simply told story – a boy brings an injured bird home much to the chagrin of his bad tempered father – the film manages to be incredibly rich, thanks to some great naturalistic performances and strong direction (made even all the more remarkable for the fact that it is shot inside a single flat). Also look out for “Abstract,” a deceptively simple idea in which a close-up is slowly revealed to be something else. Bringing in questions about perception and art, the film is a beautiful example of how short films can be used. There’s also a strong showing from the UK including “Baby” by Daniel Molloy, who remains one of the premier filmmakers from the country. It tells the story of a young girl who manages to stop a gang of youths from stealing a mobile phone. But one of the youths won’t leave her alone and soon an unlikely relationship blossoms. This is a measured and beautiful character study that is a paean to the randomness of life and the strange ways in which people connect. Other films in the competition to look out for include “Lin,” a dark and disturbing short about the unsettling journey a women takes to escape her past and the brilliantly inventive “Stardust,” in which hidden camera footage taken in Las Vegas is edited together into a traditional film noir.

Of course, if a film has been rejected from a festival then there’s a chance that you’ll never get an opportunity to see it. Unless, of course, you turn to the Salon des Refuses, who will present a special program at the festival. Taking on other films that festivals reject, the program is a chance to see some truly great films that – for one reason or another – tend to slip through the net. The screening includes “Premices” (“First Fruits”), a bold exploration of sexuality, and “Commuting,” an exploration of just one of the millions of people who make their way to work every day. There’s also a special program from the London Short Film Festival, which brings some of the cream of UK filmmaking to the country. Highlights of the program also include “Paris/Sexy,” a dark and disturbing tale of isolation and mental breakdown and the extremely well observed documentary “Robin Hood Gardens” (or “Every Brutalist Structure for Itself”), which focuses on the fate of an infamous housing estate in the UK.

There will also be a chance to see some great short films from the Baltic region and experience some of the best Nordic shorts. If you’ve yet to take the plunge into discovering short films, then 2Annas is an excellent place to start. For every film that fails to work on you, there’ll be a mini-masterpiece guaranteed to make you fall in love with the short film format and question the way in which you view cinema.

The 2Annas International Short Film Festival continues until May 28. For more information visit: o