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Opening Night at the 15th Annual London Independent Film Festival 2018

15th annual London Independent Film Festival LIFF 2018 is running from 13th to 22nd April 2018 at Kino Bermondsey. The Closing Night Gala and the Awards Ceremony will be held at 8pm on April 22nd at Kino Bermondsey. The official start of the festival was on Friday, April 13 (what an interesting date :)) and the Opening Night Party began at 6pm. Actor Dima Sol and I went for the 7:30pm screening to see a selection of short films. Before the screening began we had time to meet some new people, among them was the director of “Audition”, Alessandro Fazio. It was a very nice and (finally getting there) warm night not far from the Southbank with a view at the top of the Shard sparkling with its golden lights in the moonlight. At 7:30 pm we were called into the quite small, but very cozy cinema where the screening of the five short films began after everybody had found their seat. In the Shorts Block 1 we were shown the following films:

"833" by Vijay D. Varu ( )

"Audition" by Alessandro Fazio ( )

Little Shit by Richard Gorodecky ( )

Stationary by Jeanne Boyé ( )

The Proposal by Set Hinde ( )

The first film to be shown was “833” by Vijay D. Varu. The leading character, Jake, is perpetually late for work and he confides in Mrs Miller, a lady in a wheelchair who he meets at the bus stop every day and who seems to see the world through different eyes. Also, what it seems to be, is that Jake is somehow always running late for work, because there is this girl who he sees at the bus stop every day and he seems to like her and it looks like he is taking a later bus just so he can see her. Jake has a horrible boss who just constantly yells at him and is very hostile and discriminatory and condescending towards people. One day Jake comes to work late again and his boss fires him. It appears that this rather negative event kind of puts Jake onto a journey towards enlightenment and self-discovery and helps him overcome his own shackles. Next day he gets up early, walks into his boss’ office and tells him everything he thinks about him and furthermore plays a prank to him and glues him to the chair. The next day or maybe a few days later, he is at the bus stop again, talking to Mrs Miller and then they get on the bus. He is disappointed that the girl is not there, but she also gets on the bus, just when the bus was about to leave. Mrs Miller greets the girl and introduces her to Jake who smiles and says hello and this is where it fades to black. I believe that the message of this short film is to show that somehow you just need to find the strength within yourself to do something, that is very hard for you and then you will be able to find happiness. As the old saying goes: “All miracles happen outside of the comfort zone”. The film is called “833” because this is the bus route Jake, Mrs Miller and the girl Jake likes take. What is quite interesting, and I do not know whether the director was aware of that or not, but the number 833 has a deeper meaning in numerology. The number 3 is mentioned twice which is a symbol of cohesion and therefore 33 shows that people from all walks of life can work together, which in this case is Mrs Miller, a wheelchair bound older lady, Jake, a young bloke and the young girl. Number 8 is a sign of development which means moving from a halt towards progress and in the film the development is finally that Jake meets the girl and actually talks to her and not just stares at her. Also, the number 833 has a meaning of being able to talk and listen. For example, if you have been going through a hard time at work or if you have a colleague who just wants the worst for you (in this case Jake has a horrible boss), - it is time to have a discussion, because you cannot work in an environment which is filled with hate and adversity (which Jake finally does). So whether intentionally or subconsciously, the bus route 833 in this film has a deeper meaning for the whole film which makes the message of this short film even more curious and intriguing.

After a very short blackout the audience was presented with the next film: “Audition” by Alessandro Fazio. The basic plot is that a young teenager, Oliver, goes to an audition at the Royal Academy of Music and gets into a few inner monologues, he suddenly appears to want to quit the most important piano audition of his life. He knows that if he does that it would break his mother's heart and destroy his brilliant future. His mother is shown as a very pushy perfectionist woman, who only seems to be concerned with her son’s success, but disregards his wishes and feelings and hence it is easier for the viewer to put themselves into Oliver’s shoes. In the end, though, Oliver still decides to go to the audition at the last minute, which makes him come there late and without his music sheets. The whole decision making process was quite clear throughout the film, however, it was a bit one-dimensional, mostly featuring silent scenes. Also, what I did not quite understand is why he decided to go to the audition after all. The turning point was not shown clearly, as there was just a cut between him panicking and searching for the sheets, which looked like a sign to him that he shouldn’t go. In the next scene the auditioning committee was waiting for him in the room and his mother was very nervous and then he arrived and sat down at the piano. Why did he decide to audition in the end? Why did he make contradictory decision at some point during the day? Why didn’t he tell his mother how he felt? Why did she come with him to the audition? The end of the film raised a lot of questions which clouded the message of the film for me. Nevertheless, it is an interesting film to watch, as you want to find out how Oliver’s relationship with his mother will evolve and whether he is going to go and pass the audition or not.

The next film shown was “Little Shit: Finding the Good in the Bad”, a film by Richard Gorodecky, which was the only one in black and white. The protagonist of this piece was a boy, probably aged ten, named Paul who was shown as a little rebel, having an attitude. He is one of those kids you cross the road to avoid, the no-hoper you pray your children never become, wearing a tracksuit, peeing outside, being rude. Somewhere in the middle of the film he is being mobbed by an older boy who lives in the same area. Then, when he gets home in the evening, the audience finds out that Paul’s mother is terminally ill and he is taking care of her, which is the opposite of how he was shown before. When he then wakes up in the morning, we realise that the boy who was mobbing him the day before is actually his older brother and Paul is worried that he will have to stay with him when his mother is gone. So throughout this fifteen minute long short film (contradiction intended), the young boy Paul undergoes two drastic character changes - from being a little annoying brat first over being a helpful, responsible son to being a victim. I believe, this is a bit confusing when a child or even a grown up, harbours within him completely contradictory traits of personality, especially if they come to the surface within such a short amount of time. I believe, the message of this piece is to show that there is so much more beneath the surface, that people who might appear “bad” at the first glance actually have their own story and it is all a matter of perspective, however, in my opinion, the different turning points between the changes were not justified within the film. What is interesting is, that the film is made in black and white as some sort of reversed allegory to Paul’s personality, which clearly shows that not everything is black and white. Paul has three different characteristics to him and therefore cannot be “put into a box”. But this seems to postulate a double metaphor: not only Paul’s character traits oppose each other like black and white, but also, the boy as a person, having all those different personal traits, is, metaphorically speaking, the opposite to a simple “black” or “white” character. Also, taking the title into consideration, it appears first that it is going to be a comedy, but then, after a few seconds of watching the black and white images, it is quite clear that it is a drama. This film employs contradictions on various levels, which makes it interesting to watch.

The next film to be shown was “Stationary” by Jeanne Boyé. The film starts with Rose, the leading character, sitting in what appears to be a waiting room and looking at an envelope with her name. Then there is a cut to the next scene, in which she takes out this envelope from her letterbox, goes up the stairs and meets a neighbour, who invites her over for a drink in his flat later. She comes over and is amazed by his flat. While he is fixing up the drinks she looks around and sees a picture of a little boy and girl on his mantelpiece which seems to astonish her and scare her a bit. He explains that this is him and his twin sister when they were kids. The two start drinking red wine and talking about what they do for living and he seems to mock her job at the estate agents as he himself does not have a steady job with the explanation that he wants to enjoy life. She gets a little upset and he apologises and suggests they go somewhere else so he can show her something. In the next scene they are in a variety or theatre and they talk more about life and happiness and he just urges her to let everything go and to dance and enjoy the evening. All the time she has some flashes of memories of what appears to be a car accident which also seems to be the reason why she left home and moved to London. The next day she knocks at his apartment door and wants to speak to him, but an older woman opens the door. Rose asks for Ryan, but the woman says she doesn’t know anybody by that name, Rose forces herself into the apartment, starts running around and doesn’t recognise anything from last night. Then there is a cut to the next scene and the film ends in the same room as it starts in, with Rose sitting down and looking at the envelope with her name and calling her mother to tell her that she is coming back home. Now, the whole plot with the paranormal elements is quite intriguing and curious, however it is not explicitly conveyed what the main message is. Ryan, the guy Rose meets and who doesn’t really exist, could be just a wake up call for her, that the happiness she is looking for is not here, but then there is this picture of allegedly him and his twin sister that seems to shake her memories of herself in what appears to be a car accident with her brother. So, is Ryan then her brother’s ghost? And if he is, why doesn’t she recognise him? If he is just a random guy and there is no connection between them, then why does she experience this illusion of him right now? What is this envelope with her name on it, that appears three times in the film? It must have a special meaning, if it is in the opening scene and in the closing scene, but it is never revealed what it contains. Why does she decide to go back home? So many questions are raised at the end of the film, especially after the viewer is shown that Ryan was just a character in his mind, but no answers are to be found on the surface or even after analysing all the clues and details. Even though, the message remains unclear, it is still interesting to watch and I believe, that every single person who watches this film can interpret something different into it, to find their own meaning.

And the last film in this shorts block was “The Proposal” by Set Hinde, director at BERLIN. “The Proposal” is a comedy about a couple having date night. The boy invites his girlfriend to a restaurant he works at, to talk to her about taking things to the next level. Before she arrives, he talks to his friend and colleague who also works there and who tells him that it is quite a strange choice of location, as she hates this place and him, the lead character’s friend. When she arrives there, once she finds out that they are having date night at this place, she is very upset, but the boy doesn’t really seem to realise this and starts his monologue about his desire to take the things to the next level. While he tries to get to the point, she gets the impression that he is going to propose to her, but then he tells her that he was actually thinking of having a threesome with her. That is the second time she is being disappointed this evening and she decides to play a prank to him and agrees to a threesome. He is surprised that she agreed so quickly, but then he is even more surprised when she tells him that she was actually thinking about having a threesome with two other guys while he would just watch. He calls her sick and they start arguing and then she tells him that she just wanted to make him feel like she felt, coming here, dressed nicely, to find out that they were having their date night at a place she doesn’t like and then to think that he was going to propose only for him to tell her that he wants a threesome. He laughs at her idea that he would propose to her at this place, which he criticises in a comic way and tells her that he cannot propose to her because he is just a waiter and she deserves more, to which she responds that she doesn’t care about all that and just wants to be with him. This is quite a funny piece, with everything being laid out in front of the audience, with the message being quite clear: entertain the audience. It is easy, amusing and entertaining to watch and it was a nice idea to end the shorts block with something funny. All in all, I can say, I enjoyed the evening, it was a nice cozy cinema with cute red leather chairs and quite a big screen and I could take away a few impressions from the five short films that we watched with me. Film festivals are a good place to showcase your work if you are a filmmaker, a director, an actor, etc. but it is also a great place to experience and see new things that you won’t find on TV or Netflix or in mainstream cinemas. It is a great place to experience cinematographic art from a new perspective and to meet new people. This 15th annual London Independent Film Festival 2018 is running until April 22 in Kino Bermondsey, so if you have the time, you can book the tickets for the different shows on their website and experience the indie film vibe for yourself.

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