QMU – Film and Media Degree Showcase
Recently I was invited along to the Film and Media Degree Showcase. It was an event screening the work of those attending Queen Margaret University. I’m not going to be reviewing the films as such as they are very short so I will summarise my thoughts on each of them before revealing which one I personally voted for to give the audience award.
One thing I will say is that I was completely blown away by the display of talent before my eyes on that evening. Each of the films were incredibly well put together and show a lot of promise for the future careers of everyone involved. Everyone truly should be congratulated and I personally had a great time watching what they had spent so much time working on.
Sebastien Regnier and Hong Anh Nguyen
This film opened the showcase and gives a look into student life at the university as well as within the city of Edinburgh itself. As a snapshot of everything around the students it provides a lot of information and it is set to upbeat music that certainly makes the campus feel like a welcoming place. Queen Margaret University should consider using this as a promotional film to entice future students. I was able to find this on youtube so click the hyperlink in the title and see it for yourself.
Murder for the Elderly
Hans Christian Mandoe, Ruaridh Urpeth, Erin Donnelly and Sophie McVey
A black comedy about a woman who wants to leave her husband but can’t because being Catholic forbids her from doing so. When she learns that his death would free her from her vows she hatches various scenarios to end her husband’s life once and for all.
The film is really complex in how it portrays the characters. Initially we only have the wife’s unhappiness to go on and naturally assume that the husband is a bad guy but this is flipped once he is introduced and seems to be not that bad after all. His biggest problem is that he has some annoying traits that would most likely escalate over time to the point where she seriously considers killing him. It’s an interesting story about how marriage amplifies everything that irritates you about another person and the comedy really works throughout.
Alice McKinney and Emma Foster
This is a documentary about Borders sheepdog trainer Julie Hill as she prepares for various competitions. It’s really well put together and explores the subject matter thoroughly in a really short time. Julie Hill’s wonderfully eccentric personality and competitive spirit comes through strongly and there is lots of footage of the beautiful scenery. Also, there are lots of dogs so if you’re a dog person then there’s plenty to look at.
It also fascinates as following a subject that many of us wouldn’t give much thought to but the enthusiasm for it comes through clearly. That enthusiasm translates into creating interest for the viewer as well which is the hallmark of any good documentary.
Ronja Bethke, Rebecca Hopkins and Chiara Menozzi
The shortest of the shorts on display but no less effective. It’s a very simple film about attraction and the nerves that come with it. The beauty of it is that there is no dialogue so the emotions have to be conveyed in different ways. Having no dialogue to clutter the narrative actually allows the emotions to come through very clearly and it tells a full story in a very short time.
It’s endearing, interesting and very charming. I had no doubt what it was trying to get at and found myself warming to the characters even though they didn’t speak a word.
Memory, lost love and longing are the main things at play here. A man is confronted with vivid memories of a lost love on his 25th wedding anniversary. It’s a very quiet film with lots of flashbacks to show the internal conflict of the main character who is confronted with memories that he thought were long buried. Another major idea presented is that someone’s sexual identity is a very complex thing that can’t be avoided.
Sadness fills the film and it mostly plays out silently with the shrill voice of his wife bringing him back to reality. The depiction of homosexuality is mature and heartbreaking and the message comes through strongly.
A mystery/thriller about a man waking up in a forest chained by the ankle. How did he get there? What is he chained to? Why him? These are all questions that fill the film and help enhance the tension throughout. The location is well used with lighting that reminded me a little of The Revenant and a scene with suggested wolves reminiscent of The Grey.
The story plays out mostly through action and it helps build the mystery of who the main character is. His desperation comes through clearly and everything moves along at a nice pace before culminating in a reveal that provides more questions than answers. It’s a very impressive exercise in tension and kept me interested throughout.
We Need to Talk
Something of a modern parable on communication through text and how easy it is to misunderstand. In romantic relationships the use of the words “We need to talk” often have negative connotations and when those words are put in a text message it becomes a lot worse. The central character drives herself mad going through the possibilities in her head in the hours between getting the text and finally meeting her boyfriend.
It’s very much a tragic comedy and it works really well. The lead performance is excellent the central character is engaging and likeable. It builds the mystery of what the boyfriend wants to talk about nicely and the payoff is hilarious. It could function as a nice little PSA about this particular problem.
This film has several talking heads discussing the teachings of a self help guru. The director is clearly fascinated by this particular subject and does everything possible to explain why by getting a range of inputs from different people with opinions on these teachings.
It makes good use of the speakers and the locations to promote a very positive impact of these teachings and there is definitely a lot of passion for the subject matter here.
A comedy where a socially awkward man finds a ring that makes him irresistible to the ladies. He tells his best friend about it and they work out a way to share this power. I felt that this film was designed to make men watching feel dirty and women watching feel disgusted. It’s all played for laughs but there’s the constant undertone that what these men are doing is wrong and it’s especially chilling when the women are freed from the influence of the ring.
The film doesn’t pretend that these men are doing the right thing and does make them come across as sleazy. There’s also the element of tested friendship and the question of whether relationships should come between friends. It also capably asks the question of what others would do if they had that power? The answer may not be as flattering as you would like it to be.
The showcase closed with a powerful film showing a soldier in a 1940s uniform retreating to his custom built bunker to escape the real world. It plays out silently for the most part with the melancholy of the mysterious soldier coming through clearly. Watching him carve out his own little world is always interesting and there’s an overall sense of finding inner peace coming though.
It ends with a reveal that feels like a punch in the gut and it’s something that really sticks in the mind. To me it was unexpected and incredibly powerful while enhancing the mood the film had set throughout. A great way to close the show and an excellent short in its own right
I’d like to thank Garry Ferrier for extending me an invitation. It was a thoroughly enjoyable and impressive evening that showcased the efforts of so many talented film makers. I wish them all the best in their careers and would love to see more of their work.
The winner of the audience award was Aground and deservedly so. It’s a very strong film and I can see why people responded so well to it. My vote went to We Need to Talk which doesn’t downplay my thoughts on anything else I saw but as an experience it really did stick with me. Picking one was certainly difficult and congratulations to Ross Ferrier for having so many people pick his film out of so many great shorts.