Short films are often the ideal form for fledgling filmmakers to develop ideas and themes, whilst also honing their storytelling skills, although they are often unjustly overlooked by mainstream audiences. Laurence Boyce, director of Glimmer, insists that ‘Any good film – whether one minute or four hours long – will ultimately justify its running time. We hope that people will find things to discover and enthuse about, and realise that short films are brilliant slices of cinema despite their smaller running times’. Now in its seventh year as an event, and in its second year under the Glimmer banner, the Hull International Short Film Festival celebrates the recent output of the short film community, whilst also providing educational sessions for aspiring visual artists, and a social-political context that is often absent from such events. Boyce believes that ‘shorts are a great indicator of a culture and a time in society, as if they were snapshots of a particular idea or concern’, and by programming films that deal with life in Israel alongside retrospectives of the work of cult animator David Firth and the experimental filmmaker John Smith, who will be on hand to discuss his career to date, the 2009 Glimmer Festival promises to confirm the importance of the short film format.
This year’s line-up of over 200 shorts from the UK and overseas will compete for the inaugural Anthony Minghella Awards for Best UK Short and Best International Short. Appropriately, one of the main attractions in the UK competition is Sam Taylor-Wood’s Love You More, which was produced by the late Minghella himself and screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008 before being nominated for the 2009 Best Short Film BAFTA. Written by Closer scribe Patrick Marber, this is an affecting portrait of youth in 70s London, in which two teenagers bond after they find themselves in the local record shop where they both want to buy a copy of the new Buzzcocks single, ‘Love you More’. The coming of age theme is also explored in Muriel d’Ansembourg’s Play, in which children discover what happens when dares are played for real, and Ryd Cook’s Away, which follows a young boy as he runs away from home and spends the night in a decrepit barn. Grisly pleasures are promised by the Yorkshire competition, which offers a girl coming to terms with her transformation into a zombie in Duncan Laing’s Bitten, and a family outing becoming something more sinister with the arrival of a stranger in Matt Taabu’s Into the Woods.
Aside from rewarding the industriousness of short filmmakers, the festival is not afraid of examining pressing issues within the industry itself, and the Pay to Play? section of the programme will discuss the attitude of the business towards its unpaid workers, many of whom make the realisation of both short and feature length projects possible, and the ethical legitimacy of festivals charging submission fees to filmmakers. Anatomy of a Film 2 focuses on the process of developing and making a short film, while a panel of industry insiders will contribute to What Happens Next?, which will deal with the necessity of advertising and the role of film critics in bringing audience awareness to such projects. With a programme that includes such a wide range of screenings and topics, the 2009 Glimmer Festival should prove to be an essential event for anybody interested in the short film sector.