Report: Freshly Squeezed International Student Short Film Festival

You Shall Not Leave the Way (pictured) , an animated film from the Czech Republic, won the Grand Prize at the first Freshly Squeezed International Student Short Film Festival held at the Screen cinema, Dublin, this weekend.

Access Cinema will distribute the film to over 80 film clubs and societies around Ireland.  The jury included Access Cinema director Maeve Cooke and programme manager David O’Mahony, together with filmmakers Mait Laas, Conor Horgan, Ken Wardrop and David Caffrey.

The film follows its main character on his journey through life, accepting guidelines set by his parents and encouraging others to do the same.  The film, with its unique visual style, makes excellent use of sound and music

Veronika Szemlova, the film’s director, trained at the Tomas Bata University in Zlin, Czech Republic.  Three of the six films featured in the animated section came from that university.  Surprisingly, given the animation boom in Ireland, there were no Irish films in the animation section.

Patricia Klinch from DIT provided strange but beautiful images in Non-Simultaneously Apprehended.  Paul Mahon from Pulse College displayed versatility in Storm in a Teacup, in which he joined two unconnected short films, one shot in black and white, the other in colour.  Nobody else knew what I was doing, he said, I never wrote anything down.  Klinch took the same approach, emphasising the experimental nature that characterises the best shorts

Festival highlights included the excellent documentary Kirkcaldy Man (Julian Schwanitz), in which the director seeks former world darts champion Jocky Wilson in his hometown to find out why he stopped playing, while Spanish filmmakers impressed in the comedy and horror sections with El Punto Rojo (Darío José Ferrer) and La Cuerda (Jóvenes Realizadores).

Audience members were particularly pleased with the performances of children in the drama section.  Lucy Chen, in Push and Pull (Dorothy Pranolo) from Australia, was remarkable, playing a young girl struggling with her pushy mother.  She prepares for a violin audition when drawing is her true passion.  Childhood friendship provided the theme for the Audience Award winner, White Square (Ivan Pavljutskov, Estonia).

The 34 films displayed high standards of technical accomplishment, and the quality of acting impressed Brendan Culleton, from Akajava, who spoke about his industry experience.

Edwina Forkin (Zanzibar) and Robert Cullen (Boulder Media) provided tips for students wishing to pursue a career in film.  Forkin said, Making a career in the film industry, you have to play a game.  She described the ladder that starts with student shorts, moving on to Filmbase and the Arts Council, then the various Irish Film Board schemes before getting to features.  She advised students to be professional and know the industry and to be aware that producers may prefer certain genres.

Cullen advised students to keep their showreels short, perhaps down to a minute and a half, but to ensure that it’s all high quality.

Sé Merry Doyle recounted his career development and experiences in making his recent release, John Ford — Dreaming the Quiet Man.  Both he and cinematographer Peter Robertson (Garage, Disco Pigs) pointed to a difficulty that students face with a declining need for camera and editing assistants.  Robertson said wanting to be a cameraman in Ireland in the 1970s was akin to wanting to become an astronaut but he offered hope, saying, Opportunities to get into the industry are now so much better.

Festival director, Piret Saar, pointed to the need for exposure for student short films because many are of exceptional quality, demonstrated by this weekend’s festival, the first of its kind in Ireland.  For the filmmakers, she said, It’s the first steps of people into the film industry.

John Moran