Archive for Space Travel According to John

Congratulations

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 29, 2008 by dcairns

— to my newly graduated students Anders and Jamie, who just won the McLaren Award for New British Animation at Edinburgh Film Festival for SPACE TRAVEL ACCORDING TO JOHN, part of their THE WORLD ACCORDING TO series (TWAT for short). This more than makes up for the Fest’s strange decision to only show one of the series.

This WILL be the first of many awards as long as the guys get the films out there to be seen.

Watch out for those fellows!

“You like me! You really like me!”

In other news, the Michael Powell Award went to the new Shane Meadows film, SOMERS TOWN, which kind of disappoints me on principle. I’ve often felt the prize goes to films that Powell himself wouldn’t have thought particularly revelatory (and revelation was something Powell REQUIRED of cinema), but I haven’t seen the Meadows film, so that isn’t the problem. This year the ground rules have been changed — it used to be that first or second features by new directors in the U.K. were eligible. Now Meadows is in, with his sixth feature, and Martin Radich’s CRACK WILLOW, a genuine first feature, wasn’t even considered. The Festival is perfectly entitled to change the rules as it sees fit, but it would be nice if we could understand what the qualifying conditions actually are.

Enough griping — congratulations to the winners, and to the rest: “Try again. Fail again. Fail BETTER,” as Samuel Beckett would say.

Also, congratulations to festival director Hannah McGill and her team for a very enjoyable Fest.

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Shorts

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 20, 2008 by dcairns

Lots of good short films on at the E.I.F.F. I’ve thought for years that they should have a short on with every feature (unless it’s a three-hour arse marathon or something), and this year still only a few of the features do have shorts in front. Let’s face it, shorts are helpful to people rushing from one screening to another and arriving late, they bring in extra punters because often the short filmmakers and their families are in attendance, and they provide ADDED VALUE to a screening of a feature which may be on general release in a month’s time anyway, and is now screening at a vastly inflated rate. Moviegoers deserve something extra.

My newly-graduated student Jamie Stone has TWO films showing. One of his Three Minute Wonder animations (SPACE TRAVEL ACCORDING TO JOHN), co-directed with Anders Jedenfors, shows in the first McLaren Animation programme, where the other stand-out is Will Becher’s THE WEATHERMAN. I wasn’t sure whether to add or deduct points for Becher’s use of Ennio Morricone’s magnificently silly theme from MY NAME IS NOBODY. In the same programme, Sally Arthur’s A-Z was a visual and aural treat of surpassing charm.

Jamie’s live-action short FLIGHTS, which plays chicken with the boring social realist misery genre, before flipping into something utterly joyful and upbeat, screens with the feature TIME TO DIE.

With Martin Radich’s gross-out tragedy CRACK WILLOW, I saw a short from Australia called HEARTBREAK MOTEL, memorable for great lighting and sweatily intense performances, and a spectacle as grotesque as anything in the main feature: a tall man dressed as Little Lord Fauntleroy, an idiot grin plastered across his strange features, his eyes seemingly taped up into a faux-oriental squint, capering nimbly before a horrified “john”. “This isn’t quite what I had in mind,” the customer whimpers, queasily.