On January 6, short films become the capital’s main attraction as the London Short Film Festival returns to the city’s cinemas and some more inventive settings like the University Tent at the Occupy London Stock Exchange Camp. Now in its ninth edition, LSFF continues to offer an ambitious and winningly broad programme with DIY work by emerging talents providing the perfect counterpoint to its industry events and comprehensive retrospectives of more acclaimed and established filmmakers.
The ICA’s Lo-Budget Mayhem screening promises to be an anarchic assortment with an eccentric hand-drawn animation of Hulk Hogan (Peter Millard’s Hogan), an excruciatingly awkward tale of public transport (Naren Wilks’s Journey on a Bus) and a very strange story of motherhood (Matilda Myszka’s Baby Meat). LSFF’s delight in such offbeat offerings will also be in evidence at the Midnight Movies Nightcap event and Salon des Refusés, a specially curated selection of films that did not make it into this year’s LSFF programme. It’s a fun and original idea that should raise interesting questions about what makes a ‘successful’ festival film.
As with previous editions of LSFF, this year’s programme emphasises the sensory experience of watching films. There are several events dedicated to the interaction between music and cinema and various festival strands that present films selected solely on the strength of their cinematography. Leftfield and Luscious, in particular, promises strong work, such as Jordan Baseman’s The Last Walk, which sets a compelling spoken narrative to meditative abstract visuals. The medium of analogue film is also to be celebrated with showcases of work on 16mm and 35mm film. At the Hackney Picturehouse Attic, Suitcase Cinema will present a selection of Cold War archive footage and Screen Bandita will gather together junkshop and attic finds of discarded, forgotten reels.
London itself is another focus of the 2012 festival with two screenings organised in association with the Museum of London in the Docklands: My Community will present a selection of shorts by young urban filmmakers; and London Lives will explore life in the capital through a varied programme of new works. In the documentary strand, another view of urban life is expressed through Hackney Lullabies, an award-winning short by Japanese filmmaker Kyoko Miyake. The film explores the shared experience of immigrant mothers living in Hackney and keeping their original cultures alive by singing lullabies to their young children. The diversity of voices presented in this warm and thoughtful film is mirrored in the programming of the festival itself. Looking through this year’s calendar of events, it is clear that LSFF aims to present a broad social spectrum as well as a wide aesthetic range. The Amnesty Human Rights Action Centre has organised an event to discuss disability in film while the Not the Skin I Live In strand celebrates Black and Asian stories on film. Female filmmakers are honoured with a dedicated festival strand (which includes an excellent, serious, yet witty call to arms about Nigerian women, Radio Amina) and the special event Dirty Diaries, a showcase of feminist porn films from Swedish filmmakers. This attempt to explore and represent all sorts of subjects and filmmakers makes for a lively and exciting programme of events. LSFF looks set to continue the success of previous years, keeping London audiences engaged and entertained.