When time still had some meaning

The best of the Glasgow Short Film Festival 2020

by Andrew Robertson

Betty
Betty

I love the GSFF - not just because covering it for Eye For Film has given me the opportunity to add tote bags to my collection and beer to my belly. Not just because it's spun off from parent Glasgow Film Festival and fostered an identity of its own, one born from GFF's audience focus but also a deep and passionate commitment to what short film is and can be. Not just (though it definitely helps) because its definition of 'short film' and what belongs under that umbrella is wide and weird and inclusive and intersectional.

I caught very little of the 2020 Glasgow Short Film Festival, due to scheduling. This was a bit under a year ago, when time still had some meaning, though the elasticity of the fourth dimension was already becoming apparent. Rescheduled to an online event, I was unable to move my own schedule to cover it properly. As it was I returned home after a long shift just in time to see the award winners programme, and things sort of...

Stopped.

Short film is as long as it needs to be. The 2020 Glasgow Short Film Festival was as long as it could be. As it was I only saw the award winners programme at the 2020 instalment, as stated, due to scheduling. I'd call it the 'day job' but it's been a lot more than that over the last year. I caught the programme late in its availability too, the credits for the last film appearing shortly before the whole festival disappeared. It was months ago, and also yesterday. It was the last time I saw the inside of a pub in Glasgow. Festival director Matt Lloyd and festival champion Sanne Jehoul appearing in the Laurieston, somehow less boxy for being on my laptop. The magically refilling glasses of Amstel in their interstitials were perhaps an opportunity for sponsorship missed, as past festivals have had their own beers...

Beyond the film competition(s) there's also the Production Attic pitch competition. Matthew Cowan of PA was joined by Patrick Buhr (Something About Silence, The Train, The Forest amongst others) and Vanja Ødegård (Norwegian University of Science and Technology). Their chosen pitch was Groom, a project by Laura McBride and Leyla Josephine. Set in a beauty salon, a relationship between a teenage girl and an older woman has a dark side explored. Mentioning similarities to both Eighth Grade and Suspiria, it's intriguing and one to look forward to. I was minded of Hooked and Hair Wolf, if only because those wandered in similar places, but also as an aspiration of quality.

The Scottish prize went to Betty - though the jury confessed that it had been a hard choice. They awarded a special mention to Kingdom Come in a field where both films were "definitely worthy".

The Scottish audience award went to James Price for Boys Night, who was clearly made-up - "this is amazing", he said, and on the night said that in the trailer for GSFF2021 he was going to "get Peter Mullen in it". As it stands, we got Jonathon Watson, but that makes me wonder if there's a big swap going on and we'll get an Only An Excuse? that features Gordon Brown bringing fiscal rectitude back to Scottish football and the Death Eater Yaxley talking about how coronavirus restrictions haven't impacted the masked legions of He Who Must Not Be Named too badly.

The international audience award went to Daria Kashcheeva's Daughter - with a distinctive stop motion style it was in good company.

Of the International Jury Sorayos Prapapan was unable to be present (even in video) as they were covering the student protests in Thailand. Special mention went to All Movements Should Kill the Wind, Wang Yuyan was effusive in her thanks to the extent that there were dropped cameras. The overall prize went to Mahdi Fleifel's 3 Logical Exits, deservedly so, the jury talking about how the film "deeply touched [them]". A statement by Fleifel was read, including thanks for the festival's continuing support, and an update about Reda's situation. The prize fund was to be used to help improve it, and it was clearly humbling that the "twelfth and a halfth" festival could have such potentially life-changing impact.

That's one of the magical things about short film, of course - that something that seems small can have so great an impact.

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