Deputy Online Film and TV Editor Ashley Yonga rounds-up the Encounters Film Festival by reviewing the beautiful and deeply human films that won the award-givers’ hearts.
Last week, the Encounters Film Festival saw the screening of nearly 160 short films and animations. The finale of this was a tremendous showing of the 14 award-winning films and animations from the week. These films were those that made a lasting impact, and watching them, one can easily see why. They dealt with issues ranging from dealing with your first crush, struggling with homosexuality, the love and sacrifices of parenthood and the unfortunately difficult time faced by deaf children in hearing families.
The sounds of cities in England, Japan and Mexico make you feel like a walker on those streets. You are at one with the bustling traffic, the rush of people, the beauty of the London night or the warm airs of Mexican afternoons. It is a great testament to the cinematography and animation of these films, that you can feel those emotions even through silence, even in only 10 minutes.
Children were not left out of these awards, their chosen film was Uka, a silent black and white film about a young artist who becomes obsessed with the colourful bottles on her window sill. She turns them into ornaments that shine light across this grey world she lives in. A beautiful tale about filling one’s life with colour.
The sounds of cities in England, Japan and Mexico make you feel like a walker on those streets.
In Ten Meter Tower, people are faced with jumping off a 10-meter high diving board into a swimming pool. This turned a somewhat normal thing into an examination on what runs through the minds of people before doing something that scares them. The challenged were people of all ages, from the young and the old, and each person had to make that choice: to jump or turn back? Half an hour of this could have easily bored an audience, but everyone was fully engaged and present because we all relate to that feeling of indecision, fear and the relief of doing something that absolutely terrifies you.
Final screening of the Award-Winning films has sold out! Brilliant to see so many of you here, to celebrate some truly amazing filmmaking. pic.twitter.com/KkG88un0iN
— Encounters Film Fest (@EncountersSFF) September 24, 2017
The Good Mother, winner of the Audience Award, shows a Mexican mother found in a precarious position when her son asks for a Donald Trump piñata for his birthday. Naturally, she vehemently refuses, at first, but later goes through hell and high water to get this for him as it is his only wish. This film uses comedy and light-hearted Spanish banter to confront the issues of Trump and his wall. While you sit and laugh as well as admire the good mother’s actions for her beloved son, it elegantly reminds you about the people of Mexico and what the recent political climate means for those who would be living on the other side of that wall.
The Silent Child was a film that particularly stood out, a film about a young deaf child, Libby, born to a hearing family that does not take her deafness seriously. Her parents are obsessed with the idea of her being ‘normal’ and refuse for her to learn sign language as they think she can do well with lip-reading alone. The audience watches as Libby grows more confident through the teachings of her new carer who allows her to learn sign language. As she develops her ability to communicate, the silent child first met becomes a bubbly and warm one. We are therefore heartbroken when this confidence is taken from her, through her parents stopping those lessons and forcing her to go to school with no additional support.
They turn poetry into cinema.
‘Deafness is not a learning disability.’ This was a quote at the end of the film, and one that shed light on an incredibly important issue. Being deaf is not the problem, the problem is when children born to hearing parents are not given the support, faith and room to become all that they can be. Libby was more than her deafness, but her parents could not see past that and it cost her happiness and what was left was a child, silent once more.
These short films and animations remind you of a fact often forgotten about films: they are works of art, made to be admired, to make you think and feel. They turn poetry into cinema. Is a short, comedic animation about a dog and a bear looking after a baby about how you can find family and parents in the most unexpected places, or, is just a short, comedic animation about a dog and a bear looking after a baby?
What was your favourite film from Encounters Festival? Let us know online: