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As the 17th London Short Film Festival comes to a close, we are left with those films which astonished and amazed critics the most. In the short span of only ten days, from the 10th to the 19th of January, hundreds of short films screened at various cinemas in London, branching from larger venues such as BFI Southbank, to smaller, humbler venues, such as the ICA. These short films, varying from well-acted dramas to comedic animations, were presented in the form of four categories: best British, International, Documentary, and Animated short film. The scope of the categories may seem small, even limiting, compared to the quantity of short films screened, but fortunately the quality and variety of the award winners were in no way affected. The festival had its closing night on Sunday the 19th, with the winners being screened at Rio Cinema, Curzon Soho, and the ICA.

Quarantine, Astrid Goldsmith, 2019

Though only four categories were advertised, we were also presented with two new surprise categories: the Lo-Budget category and the Random Acts category. As this was unbeknownst to us just moments before the actual screening began, it could only be welcomed with excitement. The Best International Short Film was to inaugurate the evening: a young woman, filmed on a low-quality camera, talking into a low-quality mic, sits down on her empty apartment floor and addresses her love for the rapper Yung Lean. She talks us through an idealised date with him accompanied by poorly rendered 3D-graphics. It was appropriately named: Yung Lean, Please be my Yung Love. A unique, charming, and certainly ironic film, it left the audience with a sense of confusion as of what was to come next.

A well-acted, heart-breaking story of gang violence and family was to contrast the candid monologue of the first film. Awarded the Best British Short Film of the festival, Goldfish tells the story of a young girl searching for her brother’s heart in the body of a kind stranger. An equally sad but endearing story follows: Hydebank. As we accompany a documentary crew, we are given insight into a correctional facility in Northern Ireland and into to mind of a young male offender. Within the bleak and isolated prison walls of the Irish countryside, he finds solace in the simple act of taking care of a flock of sheep.

Variety is a key term for this year’s award winners, as the following film and winner of the Lo-Budget award sent the audience from their calm and reflective state into one of laughter and glee. Long Friend, branded as a music video, tells a tale of unrequited love between a dead raccoon and a dead badger. As the taxidermied animals have dinner, we witness a heartbreak take place in the most comedic fashion. The winner of the Random Acts award, Hot and Tasty, kept the laughter chain going. A short, animated story of two drunk girls and their quest for a late-night snack turns sour when they walk straight into an ironic crime scene.

Hot and Tasty, Laura Jayne Hodkin, 2019

The film to close out the night was perhaps the most confusing one. Awarded the Best Animated Short Film, Quarantine tells the story of a group of musical badgers as they try to avoid the animal quarantine compound which has been built above them. Showcasing drama, love and comedy, it’s no exaggeration to say that this year’s LSFF had it all.

Image credits: LSFF, Xocolata, IMBD


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