Day 7, Saturday October 11th at THE KERRY FILM FESTIVAL
This was the last day of the excellent KERRY FILM FESTIVAL 2014, culminating in the Awards Event in the evening (of which more in a minute).
In the morning I went to the last short film show. This one was gathered under the heading “Friends & Foes”.
First up was a lovely little comedy from Iceland, Hjonabandssaela [Chum]. It fulfilled all my expectations of a successful short film. The backstory is established in the opening shots, confirmed in the next scenes – two old friends swim every morning, starting with some exercises, then continuing in the Jacuzzi, where they bask in the warm water while planning a small birthday party for one of them. Then comes the Change, the arrival of a woman in the Jacuzzi. One responds warmly, the other, the birthday boy, with immediate suspicion. And finally the open ending, as the birthday boy is seen still exercising, but his friend is swimming with the woman. There’s more in the climax of the film, a portrait of friendship and betrayal. Very funny, very human comedy, full of real insight and good humour.
Poxy is a touching film, an Irish production, again well told, with a solid backstory and an uncertain future. Not exactly comic but humorous in the telling, and with some very good performances. A girl and her divorced father try to move on with their relationship, against the background of her first steps into adulthood and his sad future as an estranged and probably lonely man.
Adjust-A-Dream is a Canadian film. Two gay men try to buy a new bed for the apartment they have just taken for their first attempt to live together. With a perfectly logical storyline, we see their uncertainties and affection confirmed in the act of buying the bed. A simple, effective idea, and again, with a sure presentation of the backstory and the uncertain future.
On Vit Une Epoque Formidable [We Live In Exciting Times] is a French Canadian film that won my Audience vote. A clever comedy of manners, about a friend who betrays his friend, loses his girlfriend, ends up with a broken nose and a broken home, but still happy with his life. I loved it. Beautifully directed, with some great farce elements and dialogue.
Hello Sunshine almost worked, but not quite and I’m not sure why not, except both I and the man next to me agreed it didn’t. Two women go on a drive, one to get away from her unfaithful husband and the other to get away from herself. Lovely performances (the erstwhile British TV star Lysette Anthony showing she is still a lovely actor), but the film tried to tie up all the threads, which, as I have said, doesn’t work for me in a short film. Also, the bringing in of good old fatal cancer to put an end to things seemed too calculated and was unnecessary. It could have been anything, but cancer? Too easy.
Night Shift was a simple comedy of errors, with two gangs trying to kidnap a clever, feisty girl. It is a good device for comedy drama and this film worked on lots of levels, not least the performances.
To be honest, any of the films deserved to win in any competition. This final morning’s screening was just another in a stream of wonderful programmes organised by the inestimable festival director, Roísin McGuigan.
My primary role at the festival was to adjudicate the Animation Award, so it was with great pleasure that I was able to present the award to the winning director on Saturday evening. The list of awards was long and interesting. They were given for (in order of presentation) Best International Narrative, Best Irish Narrative, Best Animation, Best Documentary, Best Original Score, Best Student Short, Youth Jury Prize, 50 hr Film Shoot winner, and finally the Audience Award.
BEST INTERNATIONAL NARRATIVE went to MR INVISIBLE (UK), a clever little comedy directed by Greg Ash and starring the veteran British actor Julian Glover. The final shot of the film, a postscript to the movie itself, got the biggest laugh, and you can see why. You can find the trailer here – http://vimeo.com/70369255
BEST IRISH NARRATIVE was awarded to OUR UNFENCED COUNTRY (IRELAND), directed by Niamh Heery, a somewhat drear view of life in Ireland, but with an uplifting feel to it that made up for the muddy, bleak landscapes and the low key performances. As with all the winners, this film had stood out for me in the festival so it was no surprise to see it win the award. – http://vimeo.com/78105863
BEST ANIMATION was my turn and I gave it to the beautifully conceived, written and animated short film MR. PLASTIMIME (UK), directed by Daniel Greaves. Daniel had made the effort to come to Tralee to receive the award so I was able to hand it to him personally, though only after accidentally calling his film Mr. Pantomime, a faux pas for which he happily forgave me, but I never will!! He, my wife and I went out later to the after festival party in the impossibly crowded Roundy’s Bar, and sank a few Guinnesses. As well as being immensely talented, Daniel is a charming man. To see the trailer and some Making Of films and other info, go to http://www.mrplastimime.com/
BEST DOCUMENTARY went to the beautiful and also intriguing film EL HIJO DE RUBY (PUERTO RICO), directed by Gisela Rosario Ramos. It is about a young man, broken hearted after the death of his junkie father, who takes to his father’s favourite form of dancing called Bomba as a way to put aside his hurt, not to mention the depressing nature of much of his life in a busy but poverty ridden city. This was an insight into another world and is well worth watching, if only for the wonderful dancing. Here’s the trailer – http://vimeo.com/85599844
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE went to IN A MIRROR (GERMANY) directed by Orson Hentschel. This is a new category for the Kerry Film Festival, a great idea from the director Roísin McGuigan, and one close to my heart as I am, among other things, a director of Atlantic Screen Music Ltd, a Dublin based company that publishes, manages and finances film scores. The winner is as good as a winner should be, evocative and perfectly fitted to the film’s mood and intentions. Here’s the trailer – http:// http://vimeo.com/95742503
BEST STUDENT SHORT was a very well made film called CALL IT BLUE (CANADA), directed by Julia Hendrickson. This is in passing, but where the heck did all this talent spring from? This is a student film, but it is as accomplished and well handled as any I’ve seen made by professionals. Except that it is a big crowded ocean out there where even the best get drowned, I expect to see more of Ms. Hendrickson’s work – http://vimeo.com/95053858
THE YOUTH JURY PRIZE was awarded to SUDDENLY (USA), directed by Merav Elbaz Belschner, a charming young American with, as you can see, a complex family background but all of it now pure New York. She came to the festival so we all got the chance to meet her. This is a clever film, based on a short story and perfectly realised, with some great performances. It’s a nice conceit, one that appealed to me particularly, as it centres on a writer who is in the middle of a bout of so-called Writer’s Block (we’ve all been there). Here’s the trailer – http://vimeo.com/101182468
50 HR FILM SHOOT WINNER went to THE DEADLINE (IRELAND), directed by Fools After School. The 50 Hour Film idea is unique to the Kerry Film Festival. Teams of budding film makers are given the equipment to make a film in 50 hours, from inception to final broadcast. They were given some lines of dialogue that had to be incorporated into the script. Fools After School are, as you will have guessed, young men (though not still at school, or I’m a poor judge of age. Come to think of it, I am, so maybe they are school kids). Their idea weas simple but very well executed. As said above, where the heck is all this talent coming from, and maybe more to the point, where is it going? Not to waste, I hope. No trailer for this one, but Google it, they’ll probably post it somewhere.
The last Award was THE AUDIENCE AWARD and it went to ROCKMOUNT (IRELAND), directed by Dave Tynan. This film tells a story about the 12 year old Roy Keane, nowadays a famous footballer, so I gather (I’m not a sports fan). To be honest, I didn’t think this film came close to being the best in show, but hey, it is Irish and it is about football, a great football hero, in fact, so with the audience being almost entirely local and therefore not only Irish but most likely football fans, natural prejudices were probably at play. The film is not well directed and the performances from the various young boys involved were weak, though I wouldn’t want to be too harsh about that, since they were young and so presumably inexperienced. But this has been such an outstanding film festival that I haven’t once felt obliged to be at all mealy-mouthed about any of it, so I’m not going to start in the penultimate paragraph I write about it. But of course, you (and a load of other people) may well not agree!
You can find the trailer here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tS7CZBJDYvM
Finally, THE MAUREEN O’HARA AWARD, which is given to Women In Film, went posthumously to Sarah Elizabeth Jones.
Sarah was a young camera operator who was killed in an accident while on set. The Festival wanted to point up the dangers film crews often face, in their efforts to fulfill the vision of the director. Sarah was a talented young woman cut off even before she had really got started. I am sure she loved the job, we all do, and I expect she was willing to take risks, but as I understand the story, she was the victim of negligence and basic stupidity, and that is a fate no-one deserves.
So that’s it. A great week of great programming. Thank you, Roísin McGuigan. I’m looking forward to the Kerry Film Festival 2015, and I hope you readers can get to that if you didn’t come this year.
Slan Go Fall.