Louis Harnett O’Meara reviews the final three films of the outgoing Film & TV students’ final projects at Gradfest 2017 – Graeme, In The Long Run and Millefeuille.
Entering the Gradfest’s final film screening I took my place in the Winston Theatre, wandering through the buzz of Film and Television graduates. Eager to see what fruit their years had borne, I settled down to the announcement of the three shorts to see the three days off in an eclectic style: Graeme, In the Long Run and Millefeuille.
Graeme was the first of the reel, written and directed by Diggory Waite and Megan Matheson. The film sustains the interest of a canny audience with its winning formula of snappy dialogue and some succulent skullduggery.
It features a down-on-his-luck postman caught up in debt, and a vulnerable genius, the mysterious Graeme, trapped behind the screen of social media. Money, theft, emotion and a subtle hint of violence form a potent concoction in a strange turn on classic thrills. The characters magnetise the moral compass of the audience, suspended in harmony by a confident demonstration of a neatly tied narrative thread. Though the characters might have fallen a little flat from time to time, the film effectively enticed the modern viewer’s delight in distrust and duplicity.
In the Long Run was next in the run of shorts, written directed and animated by Cameron Howells, India Millar and Mathilde De Bretteville. The animation addresses human waste’s effect on nature with a medium to suit the topic. Torn grass and flowers rustle appealingly on the screen, only to be troubled by a bottle thrown carelessly, enveloping the verdant paradise with black bin bags that spill from it.
Cardboard cutouts and cotton skies draw the eye for the minute’s run-time. Mathew Rees plays to an emotionally fraught score, leaving a hopeful note in the ears with the last tinkle of the piano’s keys. The film successfully delivers a clear message to the viewer in a limited time-span, and would have looked more than comfortable popping into my own Facebook feed.
Millefeuille, as the name suggests, adopts an absurdist French style. Hyunjee Song shows off a skill in composition, with surreal shots complemented by a vivid colour palette. The narrative is fragmented, and at times confusing. Although I would be able to remember the loose narrative thread, portions of the script were spoken in French without subtitles, and the plot was left willfully obscure at times.
However, this fragmentation was an effective technique in expressing the characters’ own frames of mind. Turns to the camera, characters left in their actors’ names (Liberty Cheesman acts ‘Liberty’), internal monologues; I felt uncomfortably close to a film that was so consciously at a distance. Millefeuille gives a niggling sensation of something that I simply can’t place, drawing you into something you can never enter. While it might at first glance seem to value style over substance, looking a little closer Song produces heaps of a style that is also substantial. However, to access it the audience must be able to catch a few of the curveballs thrown their way.
Did you catch the films at this year’s Gradfest? Join the discussion!