SHORT FILM REVIEW: FOREVER NOW (2017)

Director: Kristian Håskjold| Writer(s): Kristian Håskjold, Trille Cecilie Uldall-Spanner| DOP:Christian Houge Laursen |Producer: Siri Bøge Dynesen| Cast: Ferdinand Falsen Hiis, Frederikke Dahl Hansen, Henning Valin
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After several years together, William and Cecilie break up. The same night, to treat the sorrow with love, they decide to do the drug MDMA together. For better or worse, this results in an emotional rollercoaster ride over a whole weekend as the two are isolated together in their apartment.
Forever Now (2017) is a love story. It’s an observation into the visceral, complex and confrontational connections between two people who love one another. However these two are breaking up, and it’s this particular catalyst that really aims to examine and evoke what love is. Does it really mean ‘forever’ – some unseen untouchable future? Or is it the now, the tangible present and the selective past. 
Over the course of one evening William and Cecilie (Ferdinand Falsen Hiis and Frederikke Dahl Hansen) embark on a mutual celebration of their love. It’s seemingly progressive and even fun, compared to the usual tears and screaming that ensues. On one hand, it makes perfect sense – if you’ve really loved someone for so long why would you turn all of those intense, life affirming moments shared into a messy brawl within a few hours – surely it’s better to part on a high?
But life is not that simple; people are selfish, sensitive and vengeful; whatever William and Cecilie are selling feels like it’d be an incomprehensible reality for the majority. 

 
The come up that dances on the edge of the film, scene to scene, is as gradual as the drugs that the protagonists have taken. Slowly, an intimate conversation between lovers soon to be departed, builds and erupts between a series of erratic dance scenes and euphoric flashes as the couple bask in gloriously cut together sequences that flit between tempestuous and tender times shared between them to the now. familiarity being in each other’s company.  But the come down inevitably follows.
In the morning the warm nostalgic reddish-brown and beige colours that set the tone throughout the majority of the film have disappeared. It’s blue and gray, even their clothes echo this –  it feels cold.  They sit in silence eating breakfast, it’s awkward when it shouldn’t be. The lines and framing are rigid and their actions, mundane. William and Cecilia are no longer pressed against each other now they’re on either ends of the shot, never quiet in focus together. Is it subtext for the aftermath of the drugs? Probably, but it’s also the sad realisation that whatever they experienced then, is over, now it’s time to move on. 
Angry words and frustrated confessions are exchanged. Love is still there, and the connection between them isn’t easy to let go of. But there is hope, a glimmer that even though their love in the romantic sense has come to an end, love as friends or something even more than  can and will remain.
Kristian Håskjold?s “Forever Now” selected for Oscar qualifying Film Festival Palm Springs International ShortFest

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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