41 short film screenings were featured over the Manchester International Film Festival weekend, Mathew Richardson of the Paper Mattress Film Company, runs through his thoughts on those shown in MANIFF’s fifth screening.
On Paper tells the story of a Home Office bureaucrat in charge of scrutinising newly weds who have recently applied for a spouse visa. His job requires him to prove the intangible, demonstrating the true or false nature of the applicants’ love for each other. His judgement is crucial in establishing the authenticity of their bond, and to fail his scrutiny means risking being singled out as a sham marriage. The abstract precision of a state-run bureaucratic apparatus, however, is pitted against the imperfections of Hamilton’s own less-than-satisfying life and relationships.
In Spoken Word, race, perception and consequence become the centre point of three lives, as Judge Douglas Matthews, played perfectly by Lance Reddick, can no longer overlook his actions from the bench after his ruling on the case of a shooting of an unarmed teenage boy by a police officer. This film stands due to multiple great performances from the cast and the build up to its tragic climax foreshadowed from its opening. The film makes a deliberate point that tragedies, like police shootings, can come about from a variety of circumstances unknown and paints a broader perspective of what leads up to the tragic ending with multiple character viewpoints.
Memory Hospital is a comedic black and white film that satirises people’s dependence on storing memories onto computer devices as patients from different backgrounds visit the ‘Memory Hospital’ to recover their memories from corrupted hard drives, damaged phones and various technical problems one might have when visiting a PC World for an easy fix solution. There are plenty of laughs to be had during the screening, especially during the story of the mother who accidentally erased her daughter’s wedding photos because she mistook what “formatting” a hard drive meant.
Only Child is the beautifully shot film in which the viewer watches a gypsy couple go through a life journey, dealing with the harsh reality of love and the loss of a child they conceived during an affair. The opening act of the film is particularly beautifully and effectively told in the form of a montage. The camera constantly revolves around the couple’s caravan home as months pass by and the series of events that set up their grief transpires over months. Just like with Birdman the cuts are so seamless the entire set up of the premise plays out perfectly like one long take.
The Wonderful Flight
Based on the true story of two brothers that froze to death inside the wheel well of an American Aid plane flying from Ulannbaatar to Okinawa, The Wonderful Flight (2015) is simultaneously tragic and heart-warming. A mother learns that local doctors are unable to cure her young son’s sudden loss of hearing; and that her son will no longer be able to play his beloved Horse-Head Fiddle. This news does not stop the boy’s older brother trying, with the help of his best friends, to find a cure of their own – no matter how ambitious their plan.
We teamed up with Humanity Hallows to bring you complete coverage of the Manchester International Film Festival. You can view the full list of reviews which is being updated as we post new content here.