June Butler was at a screening of Irish short films at the recent GAZE Film Festival.
Sunday the 2nd of August, found me gainfully occupied in viewing a number of short films as part of the Gaze Film Festival based in the beautiful Lighthouse Cinema. What followed was an afternoon well spent indeed – 6 pearls of short movies – all different but every one with a message that was both heartfelt and moving.
Making History (2015), directed by Ana Rodgers is a four-minute account of the referendum for same sex marriage in May 2015. Regardless of whether the viewer voted yes or no, it would be impossible not to feel emotional about this outpouring of joy and freedom. The piece is well edited and with scene after scene of rapture, it is a short film that makes for compulsive viewing. Capturing a nation caught in the throes of a common goal is truly uplifting beyond belief. People are naturally drawn to such euphoria – doubly so because of the statement made in upholding the individual’s human rights. Rodgers short film compacts pride at all levels into Making History.
Directed by Eoin Maher in 2013, No Strings tells the story of two young men who hook up for benefits without friends. Bryn from Wales and Sean from Ireland awkwardly meet. The agreement is that neither want anything more than sex. Both are migrants but while Sean uses humour to deal with his situation, Bryn is numbed to social interaction and simply wants to return to his family home in Wales. As the film progresses, it is interesting to note how both characters evolve – Maher has a most subtle touch in this wistfully delicate film and it is homage to his abilities that viewers care deeply about the outcome long before the final credits roll.
Our Gemma (2015) is a twelve-minute short on comedienne Gemma Hutton’s experience of coming out in the small northern town of Bangor. Hutton takes a no-nonsense approach to how she is viewed but it is clear from the narrative that past struggles have been endured and overcome. Hutton’s grandmother is a bastion to understanding and humour – a shining star in a sky of acceptance who loves and supports her granddaughter without conditions. This is an incredibly insightful and wry piece of filmography. Directors Cara Holmes and Paula Geraghty should be rightly proud.
Kudos to Cork filmmaker Brian Deane for getting such stunning performances from his two young actors (Brandon Maher and , Tadhg Moran). Notwithstanding the fact that Céad Ghrá (2014) is narrated with panache ‘as gaeilge’, Deane also convincingly succeeds in effecting an authentic tableau of first love. The drama enfolding between the two leads is truthful in source and brings a sense of understanding to the frailty of human interaction. At only 13 minutes long, Deane imbues his characters with warmth and humour holding our full attention until the final scene.
Luke (2015) is a ten-minute short about a young transgender who narrates his story with insight and laughter. Luke prefers not to label himself or others but instead aspires to the adage of live and let live. There does not appear to be external guidance regarding how Luke records his tale, with the end result being a picture of searing honesty coupled with the freedom that ensues. Shannon Purcell directs this compassionate and poignant film.
Born in 1830 (died 1904), Edward James Muggeridge was a pioneer in the art of photography with a particular interest in motion photography and the newly emerging motion picture. He changed his name to Eadweard Muybridge because he considered this to be the original Anglo-Saxon spelling. Turning (2015) is a six-minute short film (directed by Eoin Heaney) paying deference to Muybridge’s work. It also brings to mind, albeit on a lesser scale, Maya Deren’s 1958 trailblazing film titled The Very Eye of Night in its depiction of stylised beauty from a cyclical view. Heaney’s enthralling film strips away the clothes that bind us to embrace the rawness of visual allure – touchingly honest in its presentation and yet deeply inspiring from every aspect as the balletic dancers come to a final gentle denouement. This short film was a fitting end to an afternoon of wonder.
The GAZE Film Festival took place 3o July – 3 August 2015.