Just over a fortnight ago, the world lost two very important British icons.
Men who were true artists of their craft and who didn’t shy away from the experimental. Men who at first glance weren’t considered classically handsome chaps or the type of men for leading roles, but who made a huge significant impact on British film, music, art and popular culture. Men who knocked you for six at their sparkling performances.
True performers who wouldn’t bat at undertaking complex non-traditional roles.
The type of film that one might be inclined to call an independent film.
An independent film that can be found in such an event as the British Shorts Film Festival!
This film festival has been around since 2007 but I only found out about it in 2015 and it’s a funny story. You can read all about it here!
Honestly, it’s great being British in Germany ‘cos you get to participate in all kinds of stuff. Only last week, I was honoured to be invited to the Friedrichstadt-Palast for a British evening of talks with distinguished guests, a room full of up-coming bloggers and interesting hacks, a look behind the scenes of the world’s largest theatre stage and an opportunity to watch the latest performance of the hit production THE WYLD which was still as brilliant as the first time that I watched it!
If you remember, I was awfully impressed and wrote all about it right here!
Yet again, the Film Festival started on 21.01.16 which was a Thursday so I went on Friday and pretty much made it a weekend to remember lol! This time, the German organiser Jürgen Fehrmann knew exactly who I was and was delighted to have me on board!
WHAT IS THE BRITISH SHORTS FILM FESTIVAL?
The British Shorts Film Festival is a collection of 155 British and Irish short films shown within a span of five (5) days from the 21st – 25th January, 2016!
This was the 9th edition of British Shorts with the publicity title: Shorts. Now. Forever. And this film festival didn’t disappoint!
The British Shorts Film Festival has evolved to become a true international audience festival with one of the most interesting platforms for British and Irish short films outside the UK and Ireland. There were showings of short exciting films embracing drama, comedy, animation, thriller, horror, experimental, documentary, and music videos. There were also concerts, parties, a free film workshop (including a 48-hour film project), Open Screenings, talks and an exhibition that created an atmosphere of festivity and involvement imbibing both a jury award, and an audience award. In fact, the 2016 retrospective was dedicated to the animation department of the world-famous National Film and Television School who include such talent as the Wallace & Gromit inventor Nick Park!
WHO IS THE BRITISH SHORTS FILM FESTIVAL FOR?
Well, this film festival is for established film-makers, promising newcomers, talented film students, and anybody else who has an interest in the making of short films. Indeed, the likes of Judi Dench (James Bond – 007), Michael Fassbender (The X. Men), and Martin Freeman (Sherlock Holmes (BBC) & The Hobbit) have all appeared in previous festival films. And this year, we seemed to have a who’s who’s from Games of Thrones (Michelle Fairley & Liam Cunningham) and the BBC’s Dr. Who (Arthur Davill)!
It doesn’t matter if you have a large budget, a low-budget, or no budget at all (like we had LOL)! I very much like the British Shorts Festival because not only, were the films of the highest quality and really gripping but also, at the end of the festival ANYONE at all can present a film to be judged by a respected jury, as well as the audience.
BUT WHAT IS IT EXACTLY?
Well, the film screenings have the following categories:
Retrospective: An evening’s screening dedicated to the National Film and Television School (NFTS), London showing big successes from the past four decades four (4) decades in “Directing Animation” followed by a Q&A.
And an exhibition featuring photographs, and experimental films. This year’s selection was the photography and short film series DON’T CALL ME URBAN! The Time of Grime by Simon Wheatley.
The film documents the rise of Grime, an angst-ridden and confrontational sound that emerged from the UK. The photographer and filmmaker Simon Wheatley was present for Q&A and during the entire festival, the film was shown in loops.
We live in Berlin.
Berlin is an exciting city filled with young inspiring talent so there were other interesting and exciting events and items such as:
A free festival workshop & a 48-hour film project.
Concerts & Parties.
Talks with film-makers, directors, producers and writers.
An an Open Screening for ANY short film.
WHERE DOES THE BRITISH SHORTS FILM FESTIVAL TAKE PLACE?
This is the 9th year and the festival always takes place at the home base cinema called Sputnik Kino in the suburb of Kreuzberg, with some screenings taking place at the Badehaus Szimpla in Friedrichshain, Acudkino in Mitte, and City Kino in Wedding. All delightful cinemas who show art and independent films!
I went to the Sputnik Kino which has many cool memories of stone-distressed seating made of bricks! Yes, you heard me.
Not to worry though as times have changed, and seating is now covered with leather, cushions and plastic beer crates!
I’ve only been to the Acudkino in Mitte perhaps once or twice, which is embarrassing as it’s only about 15 minutes from my home! In the olden days when I didn’t actually live in Prenzlauerberg, I used to go on that street all the time as it has a place called the Weinerei Forum.
In those days, the drinks were free!
It’s shabby chic daaaarling!
I hadn’t been to the City Kino at all as it’s in a dodgy neighbourhood, but right next to the French Cultural Literature Centre! I was surprised to discover that the venue was quite nice.
Once you stepped in!
I really enjoyed the films as many were recognisable respected British actors in my opinion! The films I saw were of excellent quality and we were able to observe a Q&A session with two directors of the film that we had just seen! This is why I really love going to film festivals. Not only do you see outstanding films worthy of each and every award, but you get the opportunity to be close to the Directors, Producers and Actors too!
The Sputnik Kino has a lovely reputation of supporting aspiring independent film-makers and once a month, every third (3rd) Wednesday, has an Open Screening. This Open Screening allows film-makers to show their movies to a live audience, and is in both English and German.
No appointments are necessary, no application forms, no testings made, it doesn’t have to be “finished,” any language is accepted, no previous qualifications necessary.
It’s a forum whereby you can “test” your film, and a live audience can ask questions, make comments, positively criticise or praise your film.
Not more than 25 minutes. And members of the public are the judges of the film.
Absolutely nothing! For both the film-makers and the audience!
I’M INTERESTED IN FILMS BUT I’M NOT A FILM-MAKER.
I’m not a film-maker either but I do love independent films.
I saw various clips of film between 2 and 23 minutes. Most were really interesting and clever, and some were downright disturbing, but I’m glad that I had the opportunity to see them!
I watched a whole host of Festival Screenings / Documentary Specials / Retrospective Screenings and an amazing number of short Animation Films, after which I dragged myself home, using the über-efficient German public transport system in the wee hours, and chatted with the pretty friendly Berlin punters!
The performances were completely packed out, showing British and Irish talent in a Berlin setting.
CAN YOU MAKE A FILM YOURSELF?
You sure can!
The attraction of British films for an international crowd is either historical drama or gritty down-to-earth films. I like British films because of the grit and the reality concept, as I do Berlin films.
At the British Shorts Film Festival, we even got to watch a part of Nicolas Roeg’s 1976 sci-fi masterpiece The Man Who Fell To Earth with the main character played by a young David Bowie about an alien on an elaborate rescue mission, to find water for his planet.
At the film festival we booked into a workshop on film-making!
Last year, I went for the fun of it and to see what it was all about but this year, I decided to take it more seriously.
We only had 48 hours and this time I wanted to go it alone as the workshop was centred on the idea of a journey. Sadly, I couldn’t find enough inspiration that would satisfy my lust for quality.
I went for the Screening of the workshop films and the standard of the film-making workshop collection was amazing. Thank goodness I didn’t submit my sorry piece of video work. It would have been shameful!
The films produced were good quality stuff with many meeting for the first time, deciding to work together, and yet managing to create, produce, edit and design, in only a few hours, even editing right before the submission deadline!
They say, stick to what you know.
I like independent films and I love film festivals.
I’m a good writer and I don’t mind writing about films, or speaking and performing in front of a camera, but I’ll leave the art of film-making to the experts!