Out of a strong set of short films, Entre Sombras stands out as a highlight


By, Milly Randall, Second Year, English

As part of Epigram’s coverage of Encounters Film Festival at Watershed, Milly Randall reviews four films which were screened there as part of the European Short Film Audience Awards. The films will also be screened at other festivals across Europe with audience votes being added up to decide the eventual winner in April 2020.

The European Short Film Audience Award showcased five insular worlds of storytelling on a refreshingly global scale. If nothing else, this selection of films imbues a sense in its audience, of at least a portion of each country’s humour and character.

Although ranking these films seems somewhat crass, as it’s difficult to not immediately gravitate towards the uplifting and fantastical, following the grading of the films we were asked to decide on (hence ‘audience award’)  the four films, for me, were as follows.

The Poster for Vihta (2018) | IMDb

In fourth place is Francois Bierry’s Vihta (2018), another comedy in what seems to be the rise of the understated, awkward genre of humour: this restorative number will not fail to entertain. From the beginning there was a constant rumble of laughter from the audience, only intensified by the age-old hilarity of elderly, stark naked bodies.

From the beginning there was a constant rumble of laughter from the audience

In a set-up echoing the The Office (2001-2003), we watch as a self involved, at his core unlikeable manager, brings his team to a corporate bonding day at a naturist spa. Brimming with weighted silences and the explosion of an office worker at the end of the film, quite literally making his mark (some toilet humour here) in front of his gawping boss, the film takes on a triumphant tone as naked, he walks, like an epic hero through fields of wheat.

Third is Kordian Kadziela’s Fusy (2017). Kadziela creates a hauntingly glittering world of realism, exploring what he concludes, through the lens of astrology, the powerful myth of blind hope we are so often asked to believe in. We watch as our minor television star and tarot card reader switches from her steaming starry world of fixing people’s lives to her sanitary and isolated personal life.

Kadziela creates a hauntingly glittering world of realism

This disconnect is both reassuring - yes, the fantasy world is not real - and un-grounding, as this facade is translucent, paper thin. She briefly leaves her stale routine to meet her clientele: we can see her breaking. Not only are her practices revealed to be fraudulent, but the lives of those who subscribe to them are shown to be base and empty. Kadziela uses beautifully wide shots to truly study the eyes of our protagonist, her palette is cool and watery but has intensity and depth, simulating the to and fro between the meaningful and meaningless in his story. This is in its essence arresting, but not without losing its optimism.

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Our review of the Manhattan Short Film Festival is Live now. Swipe through to see our scores for each of the 10 films. The winners were announced by Manhattan Short and Sylvia took first place, Nefta Football club came in second, and This Time Away was third. Take a listen to see what we thought of each. Link to episode in our Bio 👆🏾👆🏾. #manhattanfilmfestival #filmlovers #filmfestivalreview #winnersannounced #garlandtheater #spokanewa #dylanandtommyshow #podcast #finalist2019 #newepisodelive #indiefilms #shortfilms #filmreview #manhattanshort #manhattanshort2019 #Shortfilms #sylviafilm #afamilyaffair #neftafootballclub #debrisfilm #drivinglessonsfilm #tipped #thematchfilm #maloufilm #thistimeaway #attheendoftheworld #peterpettigrew #indiereview

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The runner up is the unexpectedly charming tale of a Tunisian quasi-drug feud. Yves Piat’s Nefta Football Club (2018) certainly undercut my own pessimistic assumptions when two young brothers find enough cocaine on a drug-delivery-donkey-gone-rogue, to put one away for life. We watch, cringing, as the younger brother tastes a fingertip of the “washing powder” in confusion.

The feud that ensues between the drug dealers who own the mule is vivid and hilarious, as we learn the headphone wearing donkey was not given the designated Adele ballad to reach his destination. The older brother, entrepreneurially attempts to establish his own drug trade, and fails miserably thanks to the endearing naivety of his younger brother.

Ultimately we see youth and trust championed in this story, it’s energetic and real, and the likability of the younger brother redeems the already corrupted elder. After stealing a tonne of drugs in its purest form, the younger brother takes his booty to his friends’ football club, and uses this washing powder to beautifully and creatively spruce up the pitch lines of his football club. We are truly plunged into the planes of Tunisia: a flourishing soundtrack, authentic characterisation and plot-twist in its purest form: Nefta Football Club is vivid and sanguine.

A still from Entre Sombras (2018) | All Shorts Irvington Film Festival

In first place is Entre Sombras (2018) by Monica Santos and Alice Guimaraes. They instantly captivate us in their exhilarating world of magical realism, flourishing with intricate, ornate moments of charming stop motion. Ribcages become chests of drawers bearing hearts unlocked by personalised swallowed keys, petals on a flower are spelled into cigarettes and shadows can seep under doors and shoot bullets.

Every moment of the film is unexpected and innovative. The collective imagination of its creators could be considered absurdly childlike if it wasn’t for its elegantly sensual plot of crime and revenge. This romantic entanglement and disentanglement is perfectly embodied in the bedroom scene, where the metaphor is yet again proven to be superior, as the mode of stop motion reaches its denouement, we see only the crumpling of bed sheets, a single hand outstretched and empty clothes entwined as the couple sink below and above the bed moment by moment.

They instantly captivate us in their exhilarating world of magical realism, flourishing with intricate, ornate moments of charming stop motion

The idea of a ‘bank of hearts’ in which our heroine works is also wholeheartedly developed and realised. Details like drawers of extra limbs to accelerate paperwork and the sound of a room of heartbeats beating out of sync add a charming quirkiness. Every movement in this film is thought about and re-invented, its inhabitants glide over steps, and are engulfed in ball gowns at the press of their chest. Gleeful in and of itself: the style is utterly individualistic, and distinctive in the swathes of slow realism we see so much of.

Ultimately, the sybaritic, brassy mid 20th century era, timeless black-and-white palette, and welcome complex female character -immune to the swooning mistress trope we may expect- means that Entre Sombras can only succeed in seducing the imagination.

Featured image: IMDb

Do you think a short film can capture as much emotion as a full-length feature?