SHORT FILM REVIEW: GRIDLOCK

Writer/Director: Ian Hunt Duff  | Producer: Simon Doyle | Cast: Moe Dunford, Peter Coonan, Steve Wall and Amy de Bhrun. 

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During a traffic jam on a narrow country road. When Eoin’s young daughter Emma goes missing from their car, he forms a desperate search party to find her. But as panic takes hold among the other drivers, the search for a missing girl quickly descends into a frenzied witch-hunt, where no one is above suspicion.

Gridlock is a thrilling ride.  

Indeed,  despite its title and baseline premise, Gridlock moves at a pace that’s consistently engaging and packed with plenty of questions of who, how and why. It has all the machinations of CLUE? without any of the superfluous character breakdown, making which is both intriguing and chilling.  

Little Emma, cute and slightly precocious, wonders out aloud when she’ll see her mother again. Her gruff and irritated father, Eoin – has no time to engage in conversation and tells her to play with her creepy broken doll. He’s just been on the phone to someone, looking for a place to drop his daughter. Why that is, is never disclosed nor is it important, we just know that he’s in a hurry to get there.

Through snippets of conversation with someone on the other end of the phone, we paint the picture of a protective father in Eoin, trapped in a battle of sorts with an estranged ex,  Emma’s mother.  When he returns to his car after investigating the source of the pile up, the little girl is not there. The couple in the car behind, they’re the image of propriety didn’t see anyone come or go; then there’s the invasive loud-mouthed lad who is quick to point fingers and lead much of Eoin’s (and ours to an extent) suspicions until he is accused of subverting attention from himself. There’s the creepy looking loner who refuses to unlock his door to a bunch of snarling strangers – it must be him? Even the man with a doll in the back of his car is called out – surely he would have led a little girl past all the other cars, in broad daylight, to his own without being seen? Look he’s put a doll on the passenger seat in full view! Who cares if it’s the same doll as Emma’s or not, pedantics !  At this point we don’t even care!Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 16.31.51

Like protagonist Eoin, we know nothing of the people around him it’s a lonely and vulnerable position to be in. It’s fair to assume everyone is a suspect without really having to delve into individual backstories or the exploration of motive. It’s a forgiving leniency  often afforded to short film, but Gridlock genuinely doesn’t need to give away any more than it does (which is very little).  Without knowing who the characters are, what they choose to project in the first ten seconds of being drawn into Eoin’s orbit, is up for good old fashioned subjective assessment.  What adds dimension to this film’s mysterious premise is the fact that it all takes place in broad daylight; someone must have seen something, so who’s lying? Nevermind that children do tend to go wandering off on their own. It’s every parent’s living nightmare and global quandaries.

Through a panicked and aggressively desperate Eoin, we jump between suspects, we withdraw, get confused and increasingly unsure of who to trust.  It’s a mirror held up to an increasingly assumed ‘liberal’ society who might, like myself, consider themselves reasonable, pathological warriors of the assertions: ‘innocent until proven guilty’ and ‘Never judge a book by its cover’ – and yet here I was, pointing fingers within seconds of a camera angle held too long, or the split second blink of a potential suspect. “Guilty!” I’d shout at the screen, before my theory was just as quickly debunked and simply explained away because, frankly, I was the illogical and presumptuous one. 

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Right up until the third act after a series of curve balls (that never feel annoying just perpetually diverting) the film’s conclusion is both delightfully shocking and momentarily disabling.  

 

PRESS RELEASE: ‘GRIDLOCK’ @ the 2017 JAPAN SHORT SHORTS FILM FESTIVAL

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Award winning film Gridlock selected for Oscar qualifying film festival Short Shorts Film Festival

Director Ian Hunt Duffy and producer Simon Doyle’s unnerving thriller Gridlockhas been selected to screen at the prestigious Short Shorts Film Festival in Japan on the 7th of June and stars Moe Dunford (Vikings), Peter Coonan (Love/Hate), Steve Wall (Dominion Creek) and Amy de Bhrun (Jason Bourne). The Short Shorts FilmFestival is the biggest short film festival in Asia.

Gridlock is an Irish spin on an American style thriller, set during a traffic jam on a narrow country road. When Eoin’s young daughter Emma goes missing from their car, he forms a desperate search party to find her. But as panic takes hold among the other drivers, the search for a missing girl quickly descends into a frenzied witch-hunt, where no one is above suspicion.

Director Ian Hunt Duffy graduated from the National Film School in Ireland with a BA in Film and Television Production and upong graduating set up his own production company in Dublin called Fail Safe Films, alongside Simon Doyle. Ian has produced and directed numerous award-winning short films, including the IFTA Nominated and Academy Award® long listed Love is a Sting and the Filmbase/RTÉ time-travel comedy Small Time. Producer Simon Doyle has also produced numerous award-winning short films, screening all over the world. His first feature film In View was written and directed with long-time collaborator Ciaran Creagh. Simon has a slate of three additional features that he is developing with some of Ireland’s most exciting talent.

In the role of Emma’a father Eoin is Moe Dunford, known from his work in the hit TV series Vikings for which he was awarded an IFTA for Best Supporting Actor. Steve Wall, playing Liam, is known for his work on Sam Steele, in two seasons of An Klondike for TG4 and now on Netflix as Dominion Creek.

Peter Coonan and Amy de Bhrun are starring as Rory and Catherine. Peter stared in the feature Get Up and Go alongside Killian Scott, and is best known for his regular and extremely popular role on the critically acclaimed RTÉ drama Love/Hate. Whereas Amy is well known for her work on The Crown and the Dragon and can be seen in Paul Greengrass’ latest movie Jason Bourne.

Gridlock has already won a number of high profile awards, including Academy Qualifying Awards Best Irish Short at the Foyle Film Festival and the Grand Prix Irish Short at Cork FilmFestival. This exciting film has also won five more prestigious awards and has been selected for almost 20 film festivals. 

Gridlock will be screening at the Japan Short Shorts Film Festival on June 7th 

Short film Review: LEGAL SMUGGLING with CHRISTINE CHOY

Legal Smuggling

Creators: Noah and Lewie KlosterContributor: Christine Choy

Aesthetically the Sundance 2017 nominated film, Legal Smuggling, composed almost entirely of cut and paste illustrations, looks innocent enough. However all of this dissipates within seconds when the film’s subject and glorious narrator, Christine Choy, begins to regale the story of her relationship with cigarettes and her determination to sustain her love for smoking by doing the extreme – flying a few thousand miles to get them cheaper.  I’m loathe to use the term addiction (though, yes this is what this is) because the way Choy talks about her beloved twenty-pack of Benson & Hedges is a poetic, unashamed and unapologetic confession. 

With Choy’s unique gravelly voice and the Kloster brothers’ perfectly imperfect visuals, the audience is  guided through a succinct story that really kicks off during Choy’s teen years; from leaving the ‘Orient’ to ending up in an all girls’ Catholic school in North America. Choy does what any teenager does to adapt in new surroundings, follow the trend but for an all East Asian girl living in a time where all-white Hollywood stars are idolised and smoking is in vogue, a young Choy is limited in the ways in which she can adapt. It’s a humorous retelling, fast-forward to a trip to Canada, the charismatic and sharp narrator points to this as one of the only downsides to her escapade (there’s nothing to do in Canada… bleurgh!)

We’re treated then to a tense climax in Choy’s story, when her seemingly seamless plan faces one glaring obstacle, airport customs and security. And without giving the ending away, one thing is certain, this final act is a worthy wrap to a consistently thrilling production. 

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***OSCARS SHORTLISTED*** REVIEW: SING {MINDENKI}

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Director/Writer: Kristof Deák | Producer:Anna Udvardy  | DOP:Róbert Maly | Composer: Adam Balázs | Cast: Zsófia Szamos, Dorottya Hais and Dorka Gáspárfalvi

Sing is a beautiful dance between indie cinema realism and feel-good Hollywood charm that is hard to capture in any feature let alone a short film. This Hungarian language film is shortlisted for an Academy Award and it’s clear to see why.

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REVIEW: WHERE THE WOODS END [AM ENDE DER WALD]

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Director: Felix Ahrens | Writer (s):Lucas Flasch, Felix Ahrens |  Producer: David Nienhold | Cast: Tom Keune, Henrike von Kuick and Anna Schinz.

Where the Woods End  is a student film, but let not the negative connotations, many of which nowadays are unfounded, deter you from this taster directed by writer/director Felix Aherns. Already an award winner (Silver student academy award) this film,  directed by Felix Ahrens (one to watch, of course) and co-written with Lucas Flasch (probably best to watch these two for future collaborations) this is a seriously nice bit of suspense drama.

We’re introduced to Armin (Tom Keune) and his somewhat impulsive partner Elke, a thirty-something police woman who, in the midst of a police chase and possible drugs bust of two suspected Czech nationals, makes a split second decision that results in a fatal consequence. The film immediately throws up the old but enthralling observation of life’s unpredictability, the grey area associated with human sensibility – how every second presents choices that can impact our lives in . Suspended from work but unable to wait out her sentence, Elke descends into pit concocted of self-pity, guilt and her inherent need to piece together any loose ends that may justify her actions, at best bring some closure.  When she doesn’t receive it, it’s her desperate and blatant arrogance that leads her into an even more woeful situation. Henrike Von Kuick in the lead role, is a bewitching vision. With her large ice blue eyes taking up most of her face, almost all of her emotions are played out through a suspicious flicker, glassy stare and wide-eyed and fear-stricken peepers. She’s a worthy lead, one that could perhaps draw comparison to the crime thriller leads Sara Lund and Saga Norén, all similar in their very human, very flawed characteristics: being workaholics and single women of a certain age.

Equally wonderful is Anna Schinz as Carolina the sister of one of the suspects; she’s a complex and interesting character, empathetic in her anger towards Elke but similarly blinded by her own sense of justification makes a split second decision that in turn comes full circle to ruin Elke’s life too.

Opening up on a stunning, if not a little ominous birds-eye-view of a dense woodland on the German/Czech border, it’s never revealed what kind of film this is going to be from the off. That’s fine, because throughout thirty minutes of suspenseful thrills we’re treated to (in no particular order) a character driven; psychological and in part, horror film with a little revenge thriller (a theme still so popular in today’s contentious unjust world) for good measure. It totally works, all of it and admittedly it’s a wonder, seeing as this is a short film, it doesn’t feel rushed and doesn’t particularly leave the audience (well not this one anyway) feeling unsatisfied or even needing to see more. It’s a neatly packaged engrossing bit of film, well acted and masterfully shot and cut.