Review: UoS Student Film Festival 2019

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80%
80
Brilliant

A passionate and wonderfully crafted festival featuring some brilliant student filmmakers.

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The fourth annual Student Film Festival took place on the 29th March in The Cube, SUSU’s versatile student cinema. From the moment I arrived I was wowed by the spectacle of the event, with beautiful flaming standees and a glitzy design front. Thankfully, this first impression was just a taste of things to come – the festival was, once again, excellent on nearly all fronts.

From the two hosts, who did a splendid job of segueing us from film to film, to the individual directors and actors present, the atmosphere was one of respect, courtesy and grandiosity – a refreshing change and desirable escape from the pettiness of everyday student politicking in the Union. Before the curtain even rose on the first film of the night, I was suitably wowed by the effort that went into creating an Oscars-like depiction of a ceremony, so congratulations on the part of the organising committee are in order.

So, the films themselves had a lot to live up to, but thankfully, they were nearly uniform in their excellence. To the Future, directed by Chandler Horsefield, was a nice way to open the proceedings, and the visuals and narration were inspiring. Albatross was a bold way to follow it up, with an affecting tale of abuse and psychological trauma, but director Ben McQuigg is brilliant at holding a lens to both quiet and devastating moments which allowed the performances of Samena Brunning and James Adams to blossom. Curtis Allen’s Invisible was a heartfelt depiction of life as a homeless man or woman. Hammerhead, Liam Beazley’s first film on the shortlist, captured the essence of the grindhouse gorefest extremely well. His other piece, Spider Milk, achieved a convincing homage to David Lynch.

Hannah Bennett’s Reflection moved me with it’s depiction of the struggle with one’s image and Lydia Pallot’s ‘The Modern Mind’ emulates the style of the documentary film well. Capping off the first half of the screenings was the deserving winner of ‘Best Film’, Ben Hughes’ December Heat, a riotously-funny romp with some serious talent onboard, led by Best Actress winner Bella Norris in her turn as a sardonic police captain. Moving into the second half, we were treated to the Black Mirror-esque Opikanoba, by Julien Mathus, a delightful and haunting picture with some seriously-strong production values. It’s astonishing to me how badly this film got snubbed in the awards ceremony – the same goes to the joyous Student Psycho, Lydia Pallot’s second appearance as director. Perhaps the most successful and beloved film of the night, The Distance Between One and Two, by Leo Barton, was a visual feast and a shockingly competent work by a director who seems destined to enter the film world proper. Red O’Sullivan treated us to the funniest film of the night in a room filled with stiff competition; Procrastination was a joy from start to finish, and affected me the most of all the films on display perhaps due to its relatable content.

The awards ceremony was suitably grand, and capped off the evening with style and panache. I was happy with the majority of the winners, although the snubbing of Student Psycho and Opikanoba was a deep shame. Despite this, I left feeling very proud of our student groups for putting on another brilliant event and giving such inspiring new talent a platform to be seen and embraced. The Student Film Festival just keeps on getting better.

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Culture Editor 2018-19, Third Year History student and all-round nerd. Can be most often found standing outside Netflix HQ campaigning for Daredevil Season 4, playing video games and petting doggos. Certainly won't be working.

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