BIFF - Short Takes on the Shorts

The Bradford International Film Festival has a wonderful policy more festivals should adopt; every film, major or minor, is prefixed by a short film. Sometimes old, sometimes new, sometimes animated, sometimes live action. The selection I saw included a surreal outing for Buffy's Anthony Head and an offering from Peter Serafinowicz. Here's a short take on the shorts.

Modern No. 2 - A screensaver. A variety of patterns-on-paper jump around in time to some admittedly funky music. Can see why it was paired with the similarly non-narrative Samsara but didn't really see what it offered beyond the soundtrack.

Ella - Benefits from the presence of Anthony Head but has far too undefined a plot to really say its successful. There's ambiguity and there's ambiguity and this has both of those things. Excellent camerawork though.

What's Opera Doc? - Showing as part of a centenary tribute to legendary animation director Chuck Jones, this Bugs Bunny cartoon shows him at his experimental best. A layered take on classic dramatic form, this is (obviously) zany but also (less obviously), a chuckling send-up of opera. Hailed by many as one of the greatest cartoons of all time, probably correctly.

Intermission - Co-Directed by and featuring Peter Serafinowicz, Intermission is a parody of the old cinema intermissions, which doesn't feel at all like a short film and instead feels like several rejected sketch jokes stitched together into a loose structure. They're not that funny but at just three minutes, the joke didn't get time to feel thin.

The Dot And The Line - Incredibly clever Jones animation in which, after a very short space of time, you will find yourself becoming attached to a single pencil line. Slyly funny demonstration in the essence of creating character.

Fast And Furry-ous - Road Runner vs Wile E. Coyote in the classic example of the two's war of attrition. Road Runner has never been my favourite character and this shows why; it gets rather repetitive, rather quickly. Another genius programming choice, infront of the similarly hectic The Raid.

One Smart Indian - Another short lacking in distinct definition, Craig Butta's film seems to follow a writer with writer's block, not that that's made anywhere near clear till the end, which almost makes everything previously a tad unnecessary. Didn't engage me through script, action, plot or character at any point.

So Much For So Little - Jones again, this time producing a promotional video for the US Department of Health. As such, there's not much here to recommend. Did it show in front of Faust to indicate this was Jones' sell-out moment? For Jones completists only.

The 18th Bradford International Film Festival runs from 19th - 29th April at The National Media Museum and several satellite venues in and around Bradford. It includes a European Features competition, the Shine Short Film Award and several major UK premieres and retrospectives.

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