Reviewed by: Jeff Robson

Kirk Hendry was obviously impressed when his uncle did the party trick known only to uncles - silhouetting his fingers against the wall and asking the family to guess: “is it a dog or a duck?”

Equally obviously he considered it the perfect medium to illustrate humanity’s position within the universe, and the result is Round, which could fairly be described as a one-of-a-kind short film.

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It’s a, frankly, somewhat bonkers idea, and potentially a recipe for earnest, pretentious ‘mime class workshop’ over-indulgence. But Hendry carries it off with wit and flair, wisely ensuring that it never outstays its welcome.

Opening with a 2001-esque shot of a hand transforming into a flower starkly illuminated against a rising sun, Hendry creates a jungle full of flora and fauna using only the human hand (belonging to ‘shadow artist’ Mago Serpico) – everything from a spinning spider to a trumpeting elephant.

Unfortunately, there’s an intruder into this paradise – Man, of course. The hands become jeeps and rifles as the hunters bring death and chaos to the jungle.

The symbolism is a bit heavy-handed but Hendry resists the temptation to moralise too much, presenting the humans’ atrocities in a low-key, almost offhand manner as part of a cycle of death and rebirth that has endured for centuries, and will endure after them.

If all this sounds horribly right-on, rest assured there’s a cartoonish energy and verve to the proceedings, and I’d defy anybody not to be amused (and impressed) by Serpico’s dexterity, even if you can occasionally see his silhouette, which somewhat undermines the illusion..

Add a funky soundtrack by XX Teens (the film was commissioned as part of New Music Shorts 2008 to accompany their track Round) and you’ve got a diverting and impressive little piece. Give the man a big (and versatile) hand.

Reviewed on: 27 May 2009
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Round packshot
Man’s place in the history of the Earth, told through hand shadow performance.
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Director: Kirk Hendry

Starring: Mago Serpico

Year: 2008

Runtime: 5 minutes

Country: UK


EIFF 2009

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