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Film of the Month for December 2014

Judge
Dogwoof

Dogwoof is the UK's leading documentary distributor, releasing a huge range of award-winning and highly popular films including 'The Age of Stupid', 'Restrepo', 'Dreams of a Life', 'Blackfish', 'The Act of Killing', 'Concerning Violence' and soon to be released 'Manakamana'. They also recently launched IF365, a digital distribution initiative, linking filmmakers with online platforms.

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Winner

'EXIT' is an excellent short film; strong in many aspects. The adaptation of the short story works really well thanks to a great script. I was engrossed from the get-go and my interest in the film only grew as it progressed. The acting was fantastic, as was the set and costume-design. Excellent cinematography and lighting too. Congratulations to all involved - this is a very high quality short film.

- Dogwoof
Shortlisted

'Musca' achieves great atmosphere and tension. The filmmakers have made great use of the diner as a setting for the action - I especially liked the opening shot of the shop and the cutaways to the grumpy cook! The script and action was tight and I was genuinely shocked by the ending. Bravo!

- Dogwoof
Shortlisted

A lovely short film with many fun surprises. The puppets are amazing and express a lot without words. Blending the puppetry with the forest surrounding is a real achievement.

- Dogwoof

Film of the Month for November 2014

Judge
Carol Morley

Carol Morley is an award winning filmmaker best known for her work that blurs the line between fact and fiction. Her films include Grierson Award winning documentary 'The Alcohol Years' (2000), 'Dreams of a Life' and the upcoming 'The Falling'. Her new film will be released in the spring and stars Maisie Williams and Maxine Peake.

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Winner

I liked the simplicity of this short intimate portrait. Voiceover is used well to indicate the interior monologues of the masseur and his client. This film’s structure, divided into two and using a repetition of carefully chosen images, was formally interesting and I thought the simplicity of the approach was a good idea. Overall the two words colliding idea worked, though it could have been pushed even further perhaps, and the monologue/ audio interview element made even stronger.

- Carol Morley
Shortlisted

Careful and evocative camerawork is “interrupted” by editing glitches, as though to make the spectator aware of their responsibility as a viewer, and the power relationship between the camera and the subject. I found it interesting how it reminded us of how constructed a documentary film is, while at the same time clearly wanting to convey a changing world.

- Carol Morley
Shortlisted

This film has a supernatural, eerie and enigmatic quality and the dislocation of space and time worked well. I don’t think it needed to rely so heavily on dialogue, and it probably could have benefited from more time spent on the script and rehearsing the actors. But the film is definitely testament to what you can achieve in a day as a filmmaker.

- Carol Morley

Film of the Month for October 2014

Judge
Peter Strickland

Peter Strickland is a British Screenwriter and Director.His first feature, the low-budget rural revenge drama Katalin Varga, was filmed in Romania over a period of 17 days in 2006. He won the BIFA Best Director award for Berberian Sound Studio and his latest feature 'The Duke of Burgundy' is being released in the UK on Friday 20th February this year.

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Winner
by
None

a concise, witty and effective demonstration of the influence of context and sound in shaping a scene.

- Peter Strickland
Shortlisted

an Escher-like conundrum of a film that eats its own tail. Expertly crafted, warranting, (or perhaps demanding) repeat viewings.

- Peter Strickland
Shortlisted

a heartfelt and well-acted exploration of the grieving process showing the lengths some people go to in order to find solace.

- Peter Strickland

Film of the Month for August 2014

Judge
Imogen Heap

Imogen Heap is an artist extraordinaire, a singer-songwriter and composer who has trail-blazed the interplay of music visuals and technology. As well as receiving 3 Grammy\'s, her music also features on many film soundtracks. She is the curator of the amazing-looking Reverb 2014 which takes place in August at the Roundhouse in London. Read her thoughts about what to expect, in her special blog to SP members. And get uploading!

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Winner

It drew me close to thoughts of the beauty and excitement in a new meeting, with all the possibility to love again and nothing to lose. To dare to be you. Moments of the film gave me goosebumps and you can't argue with that.

- Imogen Heap
Shortlisted

Flower bombs and fridge gods. Liking it! Must have taken ages yet didn't feel overworked and flowed really well. Felt the swearing a little out of character for the film and jarred with me for a breath or two between the giggles. Found myself on a little rampage to check out more Chris Butcher animations.

- Imogen Heap
Shortlisted

Really beautiful light and atmosphere Jeremiah catches here. I could feel the sensation of the cool mud on her foot. A microcosm of slow sadness. I wonder if the twist was that in fact the partner was not dead but alive and kicking with another, there needed to be a bit more setup to feel this sense of loss and bitterness?

- Imogen Heap

Film of the Month for July 2014

Judge
David Mackenzie

David Mackenzie is a Scottish director and sometime writer whose films include 'Hallam Foe', 'Young Adam' and 'Spread'. His most recent film is this year's hit 'Starred Up' starring Jack O'Connell, Rupert Friend and Ben Mendelsohn, which premiered in Telluride & Toronto.

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Winner

No Strings Fun is a short and spiky film that takes us into the the world of the IM chat where what starts off being sexy fun becomes uncomfortable and dangerous. It feels very precise and knows exactly what it’s doing and subverting. My winner is No Strings Fun - despite it being the shortest, probably the cheapest and lowest production values of the three, it’s my choice because of its sharpness and the way that each narrative beat significantly changes the audience perspective to upset expectation. It’s not comfortable but it’s undoubtably challenging.

- David Mackenzie
Shortlisted

The Station Master - which has clearly already done the film fest circuit and won a slew of deserved awards - is a longer short about a classic brief encounter in a lonely railway station. It has strong production values, sensitive performances and an ending which is mature and emotionally affecting.

- David Mackenzie
Shortlisted

The Grand is a smart and energised story about the money-go-round of debt repayment. Driven by strong performances and atmospherically set entirely at night, it has an aching sense of loneliness and sadness within the city - without letting the cliches of the gangster genre it obviously comes from overwhelm it.

- David Mackenzie

Film of the Month for June 2014

Judge
Katie Metcalfe

Based between the UK and the US, Katie has been a Shorts Programmer for Sundance Film Festival since 2010. She first cut her short film teeth working with Future Shorts and went on to help launch Secret Cinema, producing live cinematic events worldwide. She also worked with immersive theatre company Punchdrunk on their US launch and more recently she helped Vimeo produce and program their NY-based Festival + Awards.

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Winner

Clever concept, well executed and triumphs as a dark comedy. The timing works brilliantly, the dialogue could be a bit punchier and reveal a little more about the characters but the twist comes as a nice (and believable!) surprise.

- Katie Metcalfe
Shortlisted

Well shot, an intriguing concept with an unexpected twist, this film succeeds in creating a lonely and melancholic environment. Whilst this works on an atmospheric level, there are empty spaces in the film which could benefit from tighter editing and some deeper character development to help the viewer to better understand the characters and their motivations.

- Katie Metcalfe
Shortlisted

Sharp editing and good performances enable this short to tell a story within it's very brief 15-second timeframe. Although the subject matter is familiar territory, the characters successfully allude to a bigger story whilst keeping you in the moment. Loading the final scene with a bigger bang could improve the impact of the film.

- Katie Metcalfe

Film of the Month for May 2014

Judge
Will Massa

Will is the Senior Programme Manager at British Council Film and has responsibility for short film promotion, the British Council Travel Grant Fund - run in partnership with the BFI – and the Shorts Support Scheme. He also advises British Council offices across the Americas and Europe on their year-round film activity. Will has also been Head of Development on national short filmmaking initiative Collabor8te for its last two editions. Run through Rankin Film Productions (RFP), Collabor8te is designed to unearth and develop new filmmaking talent taking them through script development and into production on a short film project.

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Winner

a hugely gratifying synthesis of dance, fashion, film and sound delivered with precision by a director with a keen eye for visual composition. Gentle and soothing as a summer breeze.

- Will Massa
Shortlisted

A grungy, affecting tale of desperate and wayward adolescence that evokes early work from the Australian production outfit Blue Tongue. The director brings a narrative quality to bear successfully on the music video format, enhancing the brooding emotional swirl of the underlying track. Are the revenge sequences ‘real’ or imagined, an act of imaginative resistance or an escape through violent fantasy? An ambiguity that plays well to the strengths of the medium.

- Will Massa
Shortlisted

The undead live on, and they deserve love too don’t they? A lovely little Zom-com, and what more romantic offering is there than a dead pig’s head? I’m off to the butcher’s. Congratulations to the team, and particularly the make-up artist!

- Will Massa

Film of the Month for April 2014

Judge
Rodrigo Prieto

Rodrigo Prieto is an Oscar nominated cinematographer. His film credits include 'Brokeback Mountain', 'The Wolf of Wall Street', 'Argo', 'Lust/Caution', 'Babel', '21 Grams', 'Broken Embraces' and 'Biutiful'. He has worked with directors such as Martin Scorsese, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Pedro Almodóvar and Ang Lee. He also made his directorial debut last year with short film 'Likeness' starring Elle Fanning.

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Winner

An emotional rendition of a Frankensteinian story: The creature takes on it's own life, in this case finding liberation in the form of Love and Sacrifice. Atmospherically directed, Touch reveals it's plot in small increments, with an unexpected resolution that veers into Science Fiction.

- Rodrigo Prieto
Shortlisted

Intriguing and captivating, "Arterial" presents the infrastructures built by mankind as a parallel to living, breathing organisms. Driving on streets that pump cars instead of blood cells, we find loneliness and routine only broken by fantasy.

- Rodrigo Prieto
Shortlisted

Who killed Lois Lane? Super-Man is an exploration of delusion and the intersection of fantasy and reality. The plot makes us believe one thing, only to discover we were fooled by our own suspension of disbelief.

- Rodrigo Prieto

Film of the Month for February 2014

Judge
Lone Scherfig

Danish writer-director Lone Scherfig will be judging this month’s top 3 films. She began her career directing award-winning commercials and television dramas. She has gone on to enjoy international success at festivals with her films including ‘Italian for Beginners’, ‘Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself’ and, BAFTA winning, ‘An Education’.

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Winner

Moving, relevant and poetic. Well structured and acted film with a bold sound track. This is a strong director in control of the craft.

- Lone Scherfig
Shortlisted

Confident and cinematic, beautifully lit film.

- Lone Scherfig
Shortlisted

Talented and original genre film with humour and wonderful surreal moments.

- Lone Scherfig

Film of the Month for January 2014

Judge
Chris Moll

Chris Moll, Head of Film at Creative England. He's responsible for the delivery of all their investment programmes including ifeatures and ishorts.

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Winner

Beautiful shot and art directed with a real sense of the cinematic. It’s relatively familiar territory but the film paints a disturbing miniature of a teenage sociopath that lingers for a long time after viewing. For me, the voice over device is a limiting factor and it would have been interesting to pose the challenge in development as to how the writer/director might have told his story without it. I think that it might have made for an even more effective piece. But really well-done to all involved.

- Chris Moll
Shortlisted

A real sense of fun permeates this short. Great use of locations, particularly the "denouement" on Brighton Pier and a well-shot/cut chase sequence. I’m not sure that the central story driver is really enough to carry the film, even at this length, and the characters veer a little bit too close to cyphers and caricatures for my tastes at times. A little more time on script development and nailing the overall tone of the comedy would I think have paid dividends. However, it great to see a short that unashamedly sets out to entertain.

- Chris Moll
Shortlisted

Good performances and confident direction. The set-up is familiar but the film provides a genuinely unsettling (and ambiguous) jolt at the end. The move into darker territory is bold but, for me, jars a little given the banter and playfulness between the two central characters that’s gone before. In maintaining its primary goal of keeping the audience second-guessing and providing a satisfying twist, the film may be stretches its characters and story too far. However, it’s a very promising work and I’ll be interested to see what the team does for a follow-up.

- Chris Moll