by Nicholas Lay (@laidbaremedia)
The Vancouver Short Film Festival took place a couple of weekends ago at downtown’s Vancity Theatre, showcasing both rising and established filmmaking talent within the great province of British Columbia, Canada.
Present during the Friday night screenings, I was fortunate enough to catch the ‘Dark Deeds’ segment, featuring two particularly twisted reels that deserve all the accolades coming their way…
Dir: Edward Andrews
Red Handed is a black comedy about an unfit, self-conscious jogger who, in an effort to get fit, stumbles across a dead body deep in the woods.
A joyfully dark examination of humanity’s overly awkward manner of dealing with the unfamiliar – in this case, extreme self-preservation – British director Edward Andrews’ quick-fire flick succeeds in maintaining that all important element of ongoing, multi-layered surprise. Visually driven, the film inspires the perfect amount of reactionary cringe and assumed empathy from an audience no doubt aware that they certainly wouldn’t fare much better if placed in the same scenario. The cryptic narration and minimal character dialogue doesn’t detract in the slightest from Brook Driver’s witty writing, instead only encouraging Andrews’ eye for comedic revelation of the black variety. Edited with an intriguing, yet uneasy style reminiscent somewhat (in my mind) of Jonathan Glazer’s cross-format filmography, the conclusion in particular produces a seamless sense of dreadfully mirthful satisfaction.
Currently doing the rounds on the North American short film circuit, Red Handed has won numerous awards spanning direction, cinematography, editing, and score. Catch it if you can!
More information: www.redhandedshortfilm.com
Dir: Andrew Rowe
Desperate and alone, Jennifer begins looking for attractive men to hit with her car as a means of starting conversation. It doesn’t really work, but it does land her face to face with the unconscious man of her dreams.
Described as “a darkly comedic neo-noir examination of female loneliness”, writer/director Andrew Rowe’s Vehicular Romanticide delivers a fresh, feminist-inspired thematic take on the much recycled realm of creepy-stalker-accidently-goes-too-far. Dripping with 1980s-tinged stylistic throwbacks – from static low angles and creative cuts, to the synth-heavy, Drive-inspired score – the picture’s technical side is undoubtedly set to take the festival circuit by storm. Leading us deep down into something more however, is the wonderful, frighteningly subtle performance of Lauren Donnelly. Juxtaposing Rowe’s ticking downward spiral of a character piece, Jennifer’s oblivious, vacant acceptance of her rapidly-disagreeable actions doesn’t deter from the idea that, somehow, she’s rather likeable. What Rowe throws down, she pulls back up, inspiring something bordering on the type of unnerving audience sympathy that only a masterful piece of cinema can achieve.
Andrew Rowe won the 2014 MPPIA Short Film Award for Vehicular Romanticide, with the film itself premiering last month at the Whistler Film Festival. It is set for an online release sometime this year. Look right, look left, look right again, and maybe it’ll soon hurtle into view…
The trailer for Vehicular Romanticide can be viewed here.