Slaughter, Stars and Wildcards: A Review of Indie Flicks Film Festival

On Wednesday 1st March 2017 I immersed myself for the very first time into the world of independent film at the Indie Flicks Film Festival, hosted monthly by Liverpool based filmmaker Ryan Garry at the Liverpool Small Cinema. On arrival, I was invited to sit and have tea in The Courtroom Café area whilst I waited. What must be one of the quirkiest rooms in Liverpool, with cuddly toys scattered over couches and walls adorned with art of Liverpool’s most famous landmarks, was warm, friendly – and unlike mainstream cinemas, it did not cost the earth for snacks and drinks (a mere £1.50 could get you a coke and a packet of crisps.) We all watched the five shorts before voting on our favourites of the night and receiving The People’s Choice award.

Shorts in order of presentation:

   1. Dial it Back

Country of Origin: UK

Director: Sam Healy

What Healy calls his ‘slightly sweary’ short, taps into the social conscious of what it is like to live in today’s technologically advanced yet morally bankrupt world through a poem performed over a myriad of planet earth-like shots. From hipsters to social media, from entitlement to philosophy, Healy covers all bases of the millennial experience, criticising the superficial nature of society. He leaves his audience empowered to be better to one another as everyone is ultimately made of the same stuff and thus should be treated equally.

2. 8.1 Degrees of Guilt

    Country of Origin: UK

Director: Gibran Ramos

Gibran Ramos’ short is a deeply moving tribute to his home country of Mexico and the two people closest to him who encouraged him to reach for the stars – his parents. The short cuts back and forth between footage of the devastation caused by Mexico’s largest earthquake at a magnitude of 8.1 (the inspiration for Ramos’ title), footage of his work (including Lady Gaga’s Born This Way music video) and footage of him interviewing his parents. The short is rooted in the idea of ‘home’ and his guilt of leaving it behind whilst it was in ruins to achieve success. However Ramos lets go of his guilt by gifting this short back to the city that formed him as a filmmaker.

3. The Muse Will Find You Working

    Country of Origin: US

Director: Wade Koch

This short by Wade Koch, a black and white film that told the story of the tension between a young writer and her inner child, is a deserved winner of the People’s Choice Award. The cinematography of this short was particularly stunning, the symmetry of shots and the quirkiness in style reminiscent of Wes Anderson. The lack of dialogue only highlights the beauty and precision of craft in his cinematography and reiterates the idea that the story was of an internal struggle of finding the muse to create art, represented by her younger self, and sustaining a living through working as an artist.

4. Stella (Star)

Country of Origin: Italy

Director: Massimiliano D’Epiro

Massimiliano D’Epiro’s short of a murder mystery in the snowy mountains was undoubtedly my favourite short of the event. This short had the clearest narrative set in the scenic Italian mountains, centred around a chef trying to grab himself a Michelin star (hence the title Stella which is Italian for star.) The mystery of who is shot dead in the opening scene points towards the chef and the people closest to him. Anticipating a devastating end to the short, it concludes with a moment of irony and light relief that is utterly refreshing.

5. What If

Country of Origin: France

Director: François Albaranes

The shortest short film of the night is concerned with love and missed opportunity to connect with a lover. The protagonist is depicted as a forlorn soldier who is contemplating what would have happened if he had picked up the phone and talked. What would have happened if he had met his lover. This short has little dialogue but is performed over a beautiful version of Puccini’s O Mio Babbino Caro which gives the film the poignancy it desires to portray.

6. Feature Short: Tundra

Country of Origin: Belgium

Director: Karim Ouelhaj

The opening scene of pigs hanging in an abattoir being slaughtered and butchered sets the tone for the entire short. An employee of the abattoir becomes the protagonist and the short continues to focus on his detachment from humanity through his job and with little family, he becomes an extremely violent individual with no empathy towards human suffering. His empathy is revived somewhat after he rescues a young woman from an attack from a gang of girls. From this moment, their lives are intertwined with her following him on his destructive path and, in a twisted way, they find love as a kind of Bonnie and Clyde double act. A well-earned winner of the Director’s Choice Award, this is definitely one to watch!

After we had all voted for our favourite short, we were invited back into the cinema room to watch a trailer of upcoming short Wildcards by Indie Flicks host Ryan Garry. In conversation with Tony Lloyd, Garry reflected on his inspiration for the short being the wonder of what happened under the many street lights of Liverpool at night as a child watching from over the water in the suburbs of the Wirral. Childhood awe of the city is combined with Garry’s interest in film noir, though he is keen to establish that his short differs in having less of a pastiche aesthetic to it that is common with the film noir tradition. Garry also explained how he came to direct and produce his film, working to fund his own projects which gave great insight into the ways in which a budding filmmaker could produce their own work. The trailer shows a man in an alleyway in the city centre at night with the tag line ‘They were playing with murder, that was the deal’ leaving the audience wondering what this man has gotten himself into.

Indie Flicks as a monthly film festival for independent shorts is a perfect opportunity for budding filmmakers in the Liverpool area to access new film, ideas, inspiration and industry advice from those who have made films and recognition for their work. The next event is on April 5th in Manchester and Sheffield. It is £6 a ticket for the Manchester event and free entry for the Sheffield event so make sure you don’t miss out!

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