Half Cut Film Festival – review

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The tenth edition of the Half Cut Student Film Festival got its conclusion on Thursday night (11 April), with a glamorous Awards Gala at the New Picture House. The most part of the programme was dedicated to the screening of the eleven short films in competition: a selection which testified to the great quality and competitiveness of many of the submissions, not to mention the diversity in styles and genres. The audience were entertained by an hour and a half of shorts that spanned in tone: from comedy to drama, including an animated film – Tomato Tale, by Anastasia Nikolskaya – a documentary on the story of an emigrant child during the Second World War – Seavacuee by Duncan Cowles – and even a mockumentary on a small Scottish town becoming an independent state in 2014, The State of Greenock, by Pamela Barnes, David Newman and Gavin Grant.

The films were all great examples of student filmmaking talent, especially considering the limits in budget and casts that were, in the majority of cases, formed by non-professional actors. The only exception to this rule – a film that seemed to display both the use of professional technical instrumentation and the veteran actor, Ralph Riach, in the leading role – was One New Message, by Samuel Ferguson, which in fact ended up winning the prizes for both Best Editing and Best Picture. The protagonist, an elderly man spending his last years in almost complete solitude after the death of his wife, is faced with the grief and challenge of having to decide whether to put his sick dog to sleep. The film is an excellent achievement both on a narrative and the visual level, with entire scenes dedicated to the physical difficulties of an ageing body and to the void that the animal, once gone, leaves both in the protagonist’s life and in his apartment.

The prize for Best Technical Achievement went to Watching British Sports with an American, by Chris Allport. The film is a funny parody of both British and American maniacal attitude towards sports, with the obvious differences. The only American in the film ends up hanging himself in the living room where his British friends are watching what he calls “a soccer match”. Seavacuee, the documentary that Cowles dedicated to the story of his grandmother in the 1940s, was awarded the prize for Best Story, while the People’s Choice fell on Erhu, by ShiHan Tan. The latter is a poetical rendition of a girl overcoming her difficulties through art and music, and had its moments of visual beauty, although the achievement was not homogeneous. The night was concluded by the screening of the 60 Hour Film Blitz winners and the awarding ceremony.

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