Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

It's Robert's birthday. He's turning some age, and so is everything else. This is a dizzying, delightful, dreamy little film, which seamlessly integrates computer imagery of bird-like creatures, stop motion, jittery camera cuts, puppetry, even. It's tremendous, inventive, astonishing.

The soundtrack is a wide variety of ethnic musics. Robert's mother is usually seen from the neck down, the flickering of sylphish dancers is projected, it's all staggering, alien, fascinating. Three visitors come to Robert's birthday, little old ladies whose feet turn into padding talons, floral dresses that become feathers. The work of Iain Banks is recalled, the motifs of leaves and insects on plates and cakes and the stupendous, childish, surrealism of all of it.

Presents crawl along the floor, the tail on a jumper waves, and one of the grannies tells a story - The Emperor With No Skin. It's staggering, rich, an idea that's full in and of itself like the work of Robert W Chambers or HP Lovecraft. Every corner shows something new, something to try to understand.

It's apparently based on a short story by Lynda Sexson, and on the basis of this film her work would also be worth investigating. Whatever the individual elements are taken from, writing/directing duo Karni and Saul have found the spark, and it's beautifully presented on the screen. The polyglot globetrotting soundtrack is perfectly integrated, every component pulling in absolute unity toward whimsy and intrigue.

The opening is strong, the end fair, there is mystery and wonderment - it becomes hard to single out anything because it's all good; brilliant, even.

Good short films display talents, skills, abilities, illustrating the capabilities of those involved. At 2010's Edinburgh Film Festival the short film programme is sponsored by Skillset for just that reason. The best short films do all that and leave audiences wanting more, and Turning does just that. There's so much on screen, one would think it might satisfy - it does, but as a perfectly judged aperitif. They might eat all of the birthday cake, but Turning will leave audiences hungry for more.

Reviewed on: 17 Jun 2010
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An unlikely tea party takes place to celebrate a birthday.

Director: Karni Arieli, Saul Freed

Writer: Karni Arieli, Saul Freed

Starring: Patrick Gibbs, Natasha Alderslade, Maureen Wild, Audrey Holt, Carol Kirkland, Agnes Davidson, Emily Duggan, Inma Azorin, Lily Mai Holloway

Year: 2010

Runtime: 10 minutes

Country: UK


EIFF 2010

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