Edinburgh Short Film Festival 2017: Short Documentary Highlights
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After a week of multiple screenings, the Edinburgh Short Film Festival continues to impress and keep its audiences coming back for more cultural nourishment. As the room fills up with audiences and excitement, the Short Documentarys event was introduced by the festival’s director, Paul Bruce, and an assistant producer in the Scottish Documentary Institute, Rachel Stollery. The program was a carefully selected combination of five of SDI’s most prominent documentaries throughout the years and a few international contributions on ESFF’s side. Strolley briefly presented the work of the instituted, mentioning a couple of intriguing opportunities for workshops and artistic collaborations. Below are the evening's most notable highlights. 1. MA BAR by Adrian McDowall and Finlay Pretsell, Scotland This 2009 BAFTA winner introduces the audience to an elderly, yet dignified competitive weightlifter and his environment. Shot in an almost highly dramatized stylistic sequence, this work explored the hidden emotional and mental strain behind the spectacle of the physical one. The pre-competition routine resembles a ritual preparation for a gladiatorial combat, where the most important opponent is your own mind. Bubbling under a grand and heavy exterior is pure anger, which serves as the emotional fuel behind the exception of titanic physical power. Ma Bar from adrian mcdowall on Vimeo. 2. LAST IN THE LINE by Blair Scott and Dylan Drummond, Scotland Taking place in Blairgowrie, Sheila Stewart reflects on her traveler lineage, a proud minority, which is regrettably facing the last ancestors of its intertwined history and culture. While expressing her melancholic fear that with her death the culture of the travelers will perish, Sheila discusses the passage of time and its unavoidable mark on nature and its relationship to humanity. In the modern world where GMO food not only changes our nutrition habits but also our traditional values, the narrator expresses a disappointment in her generation, calling other fellow travelers “victims of lies all their lives”. The magical past of secrets and dreams slips between our fingers, while the traveler society is dying out, eroded both internally and externally by social circumstances. However, there is still hope in the form of the Cant language unique for the marginalized travelers, which Sheila is teaching her young granddaughter. Bridging the Gap: Lies | Last in the Line from Scottish Documentary Institute on Vimeo. 3. COMMODITY CITY by Jessica Kingdon, China The short documentary opens with a lavish and colorful shot of a flower shop, which we later understand is situated in the largest consumer goods market in the world - Yiwu Markets. Although the first scene is somewhat delicate, we soon come to see that this observational work reveals an empty, almost sedated life behind the smooth light counters of the stores. Different sellers are presented in their respective shops, in impersonal and modified, unnatural environments, where a lack of passion or any lust for life are prevalent. The partial and mundane sterile interactions between sellers and customers resemble more a static noise than a form of human connection, where the lonely and isolated existence of these individuals among objects seems so natural to them, that it is hard to even be perceived as oppressive.
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