This year was no exception. Presented by screenwriter and director Tony Grisoni (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas), the evening showcased films that ranged from the truly bizarre and comic, with Jim Allchin and Rob Brough’s Smokey Lady featuring human birds pecking in rhythm at what looked like a hanging hunk of meat, to the shockingly realistic Retraining from Saatchi award winner Oliver Beer, that deals with the harrowing job of a telephone counselor.
Certain films were hard to get into, having no obvious plot line, a common characteristic of art-house shorts. Karolina Raczynska’s Anatomies tried the endurance of the audience, using close-ups on a male body in an attempt to force the viewer to focus on his own physicality. This only succeeded in making me concentrate on desperately trying to suppress a yawn.
What was so awesome about the film shorts however, whether or not the substance of the films themselves captivated you, was that every short offered an original and interesting take on filming technique, something that can be exploited in the intense, abstract context of film shorts. Plot lines were laid aside to make way for artistic repetition in the cycling phenomenon Bicycle by Erin Hughes, for the eerie music score of Hannah Meszaros-Martin’s Untitled, and for the interesting triptych screen layout of Istvan Prem’s Ladder from the Skies.
All these techniques served to provoke the contemplation and abstract thought usually experienced when gazing on a painting or on the groundbreaking products of off-the-wall film directors such as Fritz Lang, who let his films be a facet of the German expressionist artistic movement. The artistic techniques provoked a sensation that is all but lost when one views the action-packed, special effect-laden thrillers that enjoy a monopoly over our cinema screens today.
Friday the 18th June promises an evening of similar exciting artistic enterprise with the Ruskin degree show being held in East Oxford.