Film discussion

Telling Tales Film and Audio Festival: MMU Student Shorts

On both the first and last days of Telling Tales, audiences were treated to a selection of the finest short films from first-year undergraduate students.

The student shorts were presenting a portrait style of story-telling. Some students constructed documentaries around their family – including their own persons – whilst others focused on an interesting individual of which they had the pleasure of knowing.

The short films were as follows: 

Put the Kettle On

Connor Boyles explicitly presents his family through powerful imagery and narration.

Opening with the boiling of a kettle, Connor presents the last 10 years or so in his family’s life through his mother’s perspective in narration. Semi-discrete footage mixed with family photos, we see the ups and downs experienced by Connor, his brother and his mother. In an almost confessional manner, Connor’s mother opens up about the school exclusions of her children and later, the hate she possesses towards Connor’s dead step-dad. Having revealed that Connor’s step-dead was also a married man in South Africa, the tone of Put the Kettle On then transcends into black comedy. The transition to black comedy is an unexpected turn, but a good one at that.

Damien

Jameela Freeston, Holly Leece and Jonathan Banks bring to us the musical talents, career and life of Damien Riley of Bolton-based rock band, Our Fold.

Damien’s titular contributor is expressed terrifically throughout this documentary. From expressing what desired him to get into music to his passions outside of his music career, Damien Riley is a multi-layered contributor to a multi-layered documentary. Initially, Damien has the feel of a promotional video for the band – especially when Damien reveals the achievement of supporting Frank Turner at the Ritz. Though after recalling a crazy backstage experience, Damien moves onto his love of physical media (vinyl), anti-digital stance and painting admiration – Damien is a hipster’s dream!

As a biographical piece, Damien successfully demonstrates its versatile titular contributor.

We’re Drawn to This

Ed Murden, Jorden Melia and Jack Riddell intimately and creatively tell the story of one transgender individual’s continuous struggles.

Opening with home video footage placed within a classically-sized television and a confession narration. Continuing with home video footage and archival photographs, the narration entails a brief origin story of Leigh MacKay’s Southport upbringing (“filled with old people and bigots”) and when they first encountered their true gender identity.

We’re Drawn toThis transcends into sadness when Leigh recalls a nasty experience and continuous frustration with consistent incorrect pronoun usage. As we delve into Leigh’s filmmaking interest when he is seen to be watching his old amateur film productions, there is a feeling of despair at why this person gets abused, when they should instead be embraced for their talent and potential.

Eleanor

Brigitte Spencer and Jordan Valentine display a heartbreaking story of OCD-suffering, Eleanor.

Opening with a clear detail on flowers, nature and wildlife, we see Eleanor. Then there is the reveal: she has OCD. The reveal of the OCD contextualises her actions before and after the reveal. Part of Eleanor’s sufferance entails an obsession with the colour purple – “can’t physically wear any other colour.” she states.

Unfortunately, OCD is not Eleanor’s only tragedy in her life. 12 years prior to the time of filming, Eleanor had cancer. 2 years after that, the cancer had returned. Then for a third time, Eleanor was suffering from cancer, six years prior to filming. Eleanor is both fortunate and unfortunate. The viewer feels her pain, but also admires her courage in living life to the best of her abilities.

Roger

Finn Browning, Gabriella Petrozzi and Charlotte Beeckmans tell the cosy story of a part-time artist and full-time Finn’s dad.

Intimacy and privacy feel to be two important themes of Roger. Early on, the titular contributor informs that he has been in his hometown forever, as it is one of those areas. Roger’s artwork is of a high-quality, but only being part-time almost limits his exposure, thus a slight privacy about his work. Late on in Roger, we see Roger’s friends praise him and present the artwork he created for them as a gift, thus a nice intimacy. Throughout majority of Roger, we see Roger by himself or with his dog – at home and on the local walk/field – thus another presentation of intimacy. The audience almost feels that he is somewhat lonely, but then we presented with his family on a day out, creating somewhat of a surprise.

Market Missing

Oliver Nutall, Nathan Johnson and Sebastian Hakim produced the best student documentary at this year’s Telling Tales.

Market Missing is boasting of so many tremendous aspects for a seven-minute documentary: history; observation; comedy; self-reflection; and even a story within the story. The central contributor of Market Missing is Oliver Nutall’s dad, Tom Nutall – for a great deal of his working life, he had a stall within the now-missing (hence the title) Farnworth Market. As an audience, we take trips to other famed markets in the North West, such as Morecambe and Bury, and we see how impactful, reliable and prestigious a market can be to its community. Farnworth is presented somewhat in a desolate manner – no market, no hope, nothing for the community. Tom Nutall is able to sell the importance of the market, but add comedy too to even the most serious of situations, including an armed robbery in a post office. Market Missing is a masterpiece of a student short.

Ultimately, it is inspiring to see that Manchester’s young filmmakers are gifted with abundances of talent, and that hopefully this is only the beginning of their road to success.

Did you attend the Telling Tales festival? Let us know what you saw!

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