Here are Spling’s Top 5 short films from the 2015 AFDA Graduation Film Festival held in Cape Town at the Labia Theatre… to watch these student short films online, click on the link below each review to be redirected to their official page on AFDA’s website and then click on the ‘View Production’ button towards the bottom right.
The Locket is a World War II drama about a German man, who is separated from his true love only to be conscripted to serve as a Nazi soldier at a concentration camp. While ambitious for a short film project, the film-makers have managed to tame the beast with amazing production values.
While the film feels like an excerpt from a larger work, they’ve focused the story on a doomed relationship united by a locket. It has an air of authenticity with army vehicles, uniforms and concentration camp politics echoing films like The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. While it has a typical World War II drama look-and-feel, telling the story from the German perspective is refreshing and the co-lead performances are heartfelt and honest, unpacking much emotional power and nuance in a short space of time.
SONS OF CRIME
Sons of Crime is a gripping, timely and suspenseful South African crime drama to the bitter end. We’re planted in contemporary Cape Town, where two brothers find themselves at loggerheads. One has chosen a life of crime, the other has tried to make an honest living… yet, when an opportunity arises to make a quick buck, both feel the overwhelming pressure of family and money.
This short film has a multi-generational and epic feel, which is bolstered by multiple locations, a telling flashback, great pacing and a sense of urgency. The cinematography is slick, the visual narrative is strong and the characters are brought to life by two compelling actors. Some of the sound design is a bit inconsistent, but the short film is so tightly-wound you don’t have time to notice.
Human nature and Mother Nature are central to Nature, a bold and elegant sci-fi thriller. We’re introduced to a futuristic world, where nature has become a no-man’s land, cut off from the dome of modern society. Tied down to her job, social life and gender role, a young professional woman escapes the humdrum and uncovers a pack of lies when she discovers an old woman living a peaceful, almost pastoral, existence on the outside.
This is a compelling, sleek and thought-provoking short film, which exists in a definite world thanks to solid visual effects. The vivid visuals have weight and so does the tragic Gattaca style story, which makes some stark contrasts with the help of a determined female lead.
WHAT IF I WAS WRONG?
In what could be described as a quirky blend of Psycho and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, we follow the deterioration of a relationship and the emotional journey of a pianist still tormented by the trajectory foisted upon him by his overbearing mother. This fantasy drama is a little difficult to follow at times, but delivers a peculiar and vivid tale with great panache and imagination.
Memories are brought to life as our hero tries to reconnect with himself and break through the shackles of his life’s work to affirm his love. An excellent day-and-night lead performance, quirky production design and exquisite visual effects power this intricate fantasy drama.
A young girl is missing in Kismet, an atmospheric and heartbreaking mystery drama about keeping hopes up in the face of adversity. We find ourselves in the company of two women living on a farm, both in search of a missing child. The melancholic atmosphere is palpable and the irony is knee deep as one character tries to protect the other blind one from the truth.
Pangs of emotion and a bracing sense of futility underpin this aching, understated and suspenseful mystery drama. Everything’s downplayed, aiming for real moments of unspeakable pain and regret. The film-makers give Kismet a fuzzy, retro feel and while young, the actors tap into the prickly tone.
Watch Kismet Online
While they didn’t quite make the Top 5, these bold short films deserve a special mention: the off-beat comedy Woody McSomething, the post-apocalyptic The Prancing Gunslinger and cannibal horror The Diening.