Wednesday, January 09, 2008

5th London Short Film Festival

Xan Lyons; photo by Val PhoenixThough 13 January

Previously known as Halloween, this festival now bears a more generic title to reflect its reach but still features an ambitious array of guest curators, events and awards.

On the 8th the Roxy Bar & Screen hosted a night of music-focused films, featuring contributions from BBC Film Network, Thinksync and SeaBuzzard.

Highlight for me was musician-filmmaker Xan Lyons' live "audio-visual" performance (see pic), the nearest thing the modern age has to the long-ago Exploding Plastic Inevitable. Lyons' films have a strong style which is not to everyone's taste: highly arty, ethereal, wordless, dramatic and with a focus on the female form. To this, he added live accompaniment from fiddle, which he looped and then played back from his Mac. I found it highly engaging.

Which is not something I can say about the programme closer, a retrospective of videos and film clips from the duo Sea Buzzard. Clearly, they have established close relationships with many up and coming bands such as Foals and Mystery Jets. But the clips they showed were, for me, tedious and self-indulgent, a kind of "look at me and my semi-famous mates" approach to film-making. At least the Noisettes, featured in a tour doc and video, make good music and have a charismatic singer. But most of it was uninspiring.

BBC Film Network and Thinksyncoffered work by winning filmmakers in their competitions, the former for videos using Warp music and the latter offering free music for films. These varied enormously in approach. I quite liked 72 Hours From Now, from Thinksync, which had a post-apocalypic feel greatly aided by the choice of music.

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