The dust has settled on Manchester Film Festival, bigger than ever and showing no signs of slowing down as it concludes its fifth year.
Amongst the sea of short films appearing at the festival their were some real gems from budding directors, MM has picked our favourites from the bunch.
Directorial duo FGKO were back in Manchester, having come to the festival previously in 2016, with their short Second Souffle exploring retired boxer Jose as he tries to find purpose after the fighting stops.
One scene in particular, involving Jose in a nightclub, who after one too many vodkas thinks he’s back in the ring is a remarkable piece of filmmaking, both ethereal and hyperrealistic simultaneously as he fights his way through the dance floor.
It also features an absolutely class retro Liverpool tracksuit, which makes it infinitely better.
This hand drawn animation follows an unnamed man through London’s busy nightlife, based off observational drawings from the director Holly Warburton, it captures the essence of being alone in a crowd, with the animation allowing for a sharp contrast of colours, highlighting our lone riders existential trip.
Husband and wife duo Anna Wilson-Jones and Steve John Shepherd have collaborated on this short, taking on the roles of writer, producer and lead actor between them. Steven plays a homeless drifter, who stumbles into a house, only to discover a strange bond between the woman inside.
A short film with a lot of vision and story compacted into it’s 15 minute run time.
This short from previous award winner at Manchester Film Festival Anthony Ladesich follows two repo men was they go to collect a debt. Think Black Mirror via Quentin Tarantino, Ladesich bring this dark script to life with imaginative camera work building a surreal tension.
Little Miss Sumo
Local lad Matt Kay has directed this affecting short documentary following Hiyori Kon, the young female sumo wrestler who’s breaking down gender norms by stepping in to the dohyō.
This exploration of gender in traditional societies and the sporting world is filled with stunning cinematography and despite its short run time fully immerses you into its narrative.
Deservedly, it won Best British Film at the festival.
Ready or Not
This surreal short looks into the mind of a young girl, if said young girl had watched too many of David Lynch’s projects.
Its uncanny colour palette fills this doll house of horrors with fear and intrigue. It leaves you second guessing throughout, and still uncertain at its climax.
A Scribbled Memory
This animation from Bhulla Bengal, a visual interpretation of a radio interview with a witness of domestic abuse, won best experimental film at the festival.
It’s only one minute long but it’s message sticks with you for a lot longer. A harrowing listen and the animation captures the magnitude of thoughts and emotions weighing down on abuse survivors.
Starring Game of Thrones’ Faye Marsay and Little Boy Blue’s Robbie O’Neill this short tackles masculinity and mental health, with a strong message urging people to reach out. An important message tackled with ease by director Philip Barantini.
As lead O’Neill, playing a young boxer, smiles and laughs throughout his day when in the ring, the hidden veil of depression overbears him later, a point not often raised in depictions of mental health.
A smile hides his woes, but they’re there for us to see as he gets home, making for difficult, but important, viewing.
Main image courtesy of The Visitor trailer via Vimeo, with thanks.