The Glasgow Short Film Festival 2022 awards ceremony Photo: Andrew Robertson
The 15th Glasgow Short Film Festival returned to what I almost automatically attempted to describe as "live action" when I mean in fact "in person". The festival operated in a hybrid model, many of the programmes were available online though some workshops were streamed as well as the films in the main competitions.
Eye For Film attended the opening gala, the astonishing The Timekeepers Of Eternity at Glasgow's Film Theatre. The GFT was one of the many bodies thanked in the various speeches of the evening, and Aristotelis Maragkos the film's director served on one of the juries.
He was joined on the Scotland's Year Of Stories Short Film Award jury by Hannah Laveri and Ren Scateni. Scateni was the only jury member present as her colleagues were among many of the film-makers that circumstances and indeed other ceremonies had called them away. They made special mention of two films, from a shortlist that gave them a decision described as "challenging but definitely rewarding". They also joined in the thanks for "giving us again an in-person event", a feeling that was echoed in the crowd at Glasgow's Centre for Contemporary Arts.
The jury gave special mention to Idrish, praising its effective use of found footage and its heart, to take something from and an elaborate and reveal. They also gave special mention to Too Rough, in particular for its construction of narrative, of opposing dominance, creating something "effective" and "tender". They then spoke of the winning film's "gentle portrayal" of a found community, of the "rural communities that are often not included in ideas of nation building". The Bayview is a touching document of a hyperliminal space, a hotel in Macduff in Northern Scotland that provides the migrant workers of the fishing fleets with a bed and a home cooked meal. Director Daniel Cook described the award as a "real honour", that it was "a pleasure to screen and see [films at the festival]". In an admission that spoke to the general air of chaos he advised us that he'd had too many pints and would take the opportunity of the screening to solve that problem. That level of honesty is present also in his film, which was in good company among the winners.
The Scottish award was granted by one of three juries at the festival, a set of awards joined by two audience prizes. The juries were among the multitudinous thanks from festival director Matt Lloyd and newly crowned programming director Sanne Jehoul. The excitement of an in-person festival was palpable, but also audible. Lloyd's enthusiasm meant he nearly multiplied a prize a hundredfold, and though he was far from the only user of the C-word he did so live. The event's vocabulary was further enhanced with the use of "whizkind" and "superbeast" and while there was no song and dance it was not true when he said "those of [us] who have come to expect a certain standard will be disappointed". Similarly adjacent to fact was the suggestion that the event would be "all business no comedy".
The thanks (and a new category of "fantastic thanks") included the (ever important) drinks sponsors, Illicit Gin provided bottles for the winners and Glasgow Beer Works provided a can that fit in my coat pocket. The numerous volunteers, the submissions screeners who waded through some four thousand potentials and picked an excellent crop from them, a multitude of funding bodies too.
Jehoul was, as is often the case, a more moderate voice, joining the group of people "that want to help" that had Lloyd confession to becoming quite emotional at the volunteer induction event. I do hope that she had the chance at the afterparty to get the song and dance that many felt were missing after the choreographed contributions to the online festivals of the last two years.
The ceremony had started with the festival trailer, then continued with a piece from one of the event sponsors Scotland's Year Of Stories. This was one of those prestige funding body things, full of helicopter shots and a voiceover by the apparently very imitable James Cosmo. This was also the inaugaral year of the Young Scottish Filmmaker award, and the jury were in attendance. After some accidental comic business with microphone stands caused by the fact that they were not just young but short for a short film festival (if not also a stormtrooper) they presented two awards. The prize was split for films made with and without formal funding, the winner of the latter was the heart-warming Fart Car. Winner Fraser Scott described the experience as "mad", talking about the loneliness of film-making despite it being a collaborative effort. Winning the other prize for her animated film Silvering Eilidh Nicoll suggested that "Fraser nailed it", talking about the feelings of film-makers when it "doesn't seem like [a film] was going to be completed". The award comes with a prize of Â£1500 which should help with film-making however formal those funds might be considered.
The Scottish Audience award went to Too Rough, nearly achieving a double with its special mention from the jury. It's a touching piece, claustrophobic in its proximity and intensity. The International Audience award went to Love, Dad, but time constraints meant it was not shown with the other award winners. The international jury were like the Scottish award jury in their reduced numbers. While Carla Vulpiani and Ratchapoom Boonbunchachoke were present, Matevz Jerman had tested positive for Covid just before travelling. He still had the opportunity to select from the programme described as "undoubtedly strong" and "complex", part of a "great privilege", even if they were forced upon them shivering under a blanket.
The jury gave special mention to a film that had "entertaining quality", a "heartfelt cuteness" that showed how to "swing through life", Sierra. Director Sander Joon described a trip to Glasgow that had started with forgetting their passports and has "since gotten better and better". The equally compelling but tonally distinct winner was praised for "critical precision" and "urgency" in its examination of "systematic government violence". Winner Handbook's director Pavel Mozhar dedicated his win to those in the post-Soviet countries fighting oppression.
With everything happening around the world, never mind the screen, it is difficult to predict what shape next year will take. I know though that with fifteen festivals under their belt the team at Glasgow Short will construct something that will again delight and entertain with its variety and quality.