Eileesh Buckley gives her report of the Short Films Programme at the 2014 Richard Harris International Film Festival.
The Richard Harris International Film Festival (RHIFF) this year included a short film competition specifically for Irish filmmakers in conjunction with the Newport Beach Film Festival. It was one of the most anticipated events at the festival.
Eleanor McSherry, Festival Creative Director, made a speech outlining the importance of this event to the festival board and the Harris family. She stated how the relationship with the Newport Film Festival was unique for an Irish festival, and that it was one the festival board was eager to grow.
The top 10 entries selected by the international selection panel will go on to the Newport Beach Film Festival, where one will be chosen to screen at the prestigious festival in Orange County. The showing of the top 10 was followed by a further selection of six shorts by filmmakers from the Mid-West.
Despite varied budgets, the top 10 selection were all of a similar high standard in their editing and production, the budgetary differences seemed to most impact the number of crew, or experience level of casts.
Gun Down, by Martin Cassidy, Barry Fahy, Nigel O’Brien and Kevin McGuire, had the audience laughing heartily with the unexpected behaviour of both characters before the final sting in the tale.
Adam, from Caroline Farrell and Denise Pattison, was a complete change in tone, entirely serious and shockingly intense. The description of this short in the RHIFF programme was, ‘A little boy withdraws from the wonder and magic of his childhood as he witnesses the destruction of his family life.’
Third to be shown was a “Zomcom” (zombie romantic comedy) from James Skerrit and Peader Clancy, Night of the Lonely Dead. The audience immediately recognised the storm damaged landscape of Lahinch, Co. Clare as the setting for this post-apocalyptic zombie romance.
Cas Timpeall from Mike Guickan and Glen Gannon was the only short scripted in Irish, thoughtfully subtitled; it focused on a school teacher who is internally disconnected and has a life falling to ruins around him.
The final short in the top 10 was the beautifully filmed The Weather Report, which was a historical vignette from Paul Murphy and Deirdre De Grae. Set in 1944, a lighthouse keeper and his wife have their quiet routine unexpectedly interrupted by a phone call, their response to which had far reaching impact in a time before weather forecasting services.
Overall the tone and story lines of the chosen shorts were varied, ranging from the darkness of Adam, to the laughter of Gun Down, with history, horror and philosophy in between.
After a short break, the second half of the shorts screening featured six pieces by filmmakers from the Irish mid-west, in some cases there were visible issues in editing or structure which kept them from the top 10.
There was one very slick production set in the George Boutique Hotel which was head and shoulders above the others in this section. View From a Hotel Lobby, from Apate Films and Dave O’Reilly, was a slick production with nods to various Hollywood blockbusters, including Oceans 11.
Functioning, Not working, from Pa Cronin and Michael Casey, opened the mid-west selection with a comedic look at a faulty product getting to users despite warnings from its engineers.
Steve Spade and Paddy Murphy’s offering was Ensnared ,which was very much an art production from start to finish. From poetry voiceovers to changing colourscapes, this was a piece for art enthusiasts.
The second short from David Harris was Cross Purpose, which had a frantic opening to a story that would be a lesson to many. While the eventual reveal wasn’t surprising, it is still a valid lesson for viewers.
Harris’ first short was Bad Choices, where the law of unintended consequences was illustrated with karma coming home to roost for the irresponsible characters at fault. Somewhat of a similar theme featured in the filmmaker’s other selected short.
5 Things You Need to Know about Dying was set in 1983 where it focused on the impact of an assignment on the journalists involved. What seemed like a trivial assignment caused the journalists to reevaluate their lives.
For more information visit the Richard Harris International Film Festival website.