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Lancaster University Film Society Showcases Talent

7th June 2011

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Last Thursday (2nd June) saw Lancaster University Film Society host its annual showcase of student work at the Dukes Cinema in the city centre.

LU Shorts consisted of five films, ranging from psychological horror with Cameron James King’s ‘Tea’ to realist with James Harvey’s ‘Young Man’.

The showcase began with Amy Charles’ ‘Effectus’, an art and identity themed piece concerned with a transvestite central character named Duchess and his striving for youth and beauty. The film heavily references Oscar Wilde’s ‘Dorian Gray’, a text that Charles has a particular interest in. She says: ‘After studying Oscar Wilde for my dissertation this year it made me think about life as performance. To make it a more contemporary piece I concentrated it around gender as performance, exploring what gender and identity means and linking it to the unreachable 'ideal' image the media offers the public today. Oscar Wilde was given an identity by his fans and the public which made him unable to be who he truly was.’

The second offering, Cameron James King’s ‘Tea’, began with the kitsch monotony of endless cups of tea being made in a student house before descending into nightmare-like horror, with the scene turning black and white. The ambiguous film left open the question of whether the central character was losing his mind and hallucinating, or whether he really was being terrorised in his home by creatures who had disguised their identities with gas masks.

In complete contrast to both these films was Amal Abou-Setta’s ‘You’re Free’, which tackled the current political issue of females wearing headscarves. The film began with a comment on the recent revolution in Egypt and offered two opposing viewpoints, with the first speaker, a westernised male, believing that the female sat beside him, as a result of her headscarf, must be narrow minded and oppressed. The film ended with the female voicing her opinion on his long hair, which she believed to be scruffy, and telling him, ‘Ah. You’re free.’  

The fourth film, ‘The Elated Kaleidoscope Girl’ by Emma C. Ashley, was billed as ‘a sister film to ‘Tea’ and focused on the notion of no one being truly sane. Overtones of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ were clear throughout, as the only character, a female seemingly stuck in a bedroom, delved underneath the floorboards and found an ornate pocket watch on a chain.

Parallels were clearly planned between this film and ‘Tea’, with both being filmed mostly in black and white, and with each having just one character. The issue of time, focused on the pocket watch in Emma C. Ashley’s film and on a malfunctioning television set in Cameron James King’s, was also prominent. Both made the use of flashing, almost subliminal, horror images throughout.

The final film was James Harvey’s ‘Young Man’, which began with a younger boy failed to join in a game of football. ‘Young Man’ was filmed locally, around the Barton Road area of Lancaster. The film ended with the young boy speaking to her grandfather and attempting rebellion through smoking a cigarette, before the scene faded out.

Around fifty people attended the screening, tickets for which cost £3.

It is the second festival of short films that the society has held.

Student scriptwriters and directors also had the chance to network with film critics both before and after the event.

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