Leeds Film Festival 2011: Day 7

International Short Film Competition 2

Beach Boy (Den) - Young Dimi has to suffer a beach holiday with his older brother and his girlfriend Isabelle. Clearly horny as hell for this older woman, he tries clumsily to ingratiate with her without raising the ire of his oafish sibling, with mixed results. A sullen little film bubbling under with sibling rivalry. 7/10

The Builder (Col) - A strange film about a father and his young son, who have to cope with the sudden death of their gran. Dad goes on a spiritual journey in recoil, presumably leaving his son behind - I couldn't tell. I felt there was something beautiful to see here, but it went over my head. 6/10

The Choice (Pls) - The grieving father of a young girl hooked up to a machine doesn't realise she is watching him from across the room. A sweet, sombre tale of family love and loss. 7/10

Cold (Nor) - After collapsing mysteriously at a nightclub, Jon has to come to terms with the fact that he cannot live the life his friends can, and his maybe girlfriend has some bad news for him too. The future is looking cold. 7/10

Until Summer Comes (Ita) - A chilling film about the potency of mixed chemicals racing around the body of three teenagers, who when they spotted their 'older woman' teacher sunbathing at the seaside, first flirt with, then appeal to emotion, then doggedly hound her to change their marks so they pass. The ending is left deliberately ambiguous to leave the audience to guess what the outcome was. 7.5/10

The Visit (Sir) - What seems to be a final visit from a long-absent son on his fathers' death bed isn't quite what it seems. A subversively humorous film to round things off nicely. 8/10

Las Acacias (Arg/Spa) (review)

A life alone on the roads transporting logs from one country to the other has allowed Ruben to live an acceptable life of modest comfort. Eating well in the truck stop cafes and providing for his family. He has little contact with people for any length of time, and so e has developed a bit of an independent air.

His little side-earner, giving a lift to those who wish to swap one country for another on the quiet, is the source for a challenge to this ingrained way of life. A mutual friend has arranged for Jacinta, who meets at the pre-arranged point in the hopes of getting into Buenos Aeres, although not alone. She has with her little Anahi, her daughter of no more than a few months. Ruben isn't happy, but slowly the pair managed to remind him of the pleasures of contact and family.

When compared to the action thrillers, this film is distinct in it's long quiet shots and sparse dialogue. For the first ten minutes or so, not a word is spoken, as Rubens' contactless life is described implicitly. Even when they meet, little is said at the start, Ruben's story and transformation is slow and unhurried. This might bore some people to death but it's one of those times where subtlety and the film taking it's time work really well. It's the little things; the gestures, the eye contact, and none more so than adorable Anahi, who stares fixatedly at the grumpy hairy old man slowly melting his heart with her laser eyes. It's a super-gentle film with no bad guys and no major upsets, just a simple meeting of lonely souls with a hopeful future ahead. 7.5/10

She-Monkeys (Swe) (review)

Emma is a young teen on the verge of womanhood, and her big chance is looming to realise her dream. Voltige classes are looming and she really wants to represent her group in an upcoming competition. Now is not the time to think of falling in love, and not to Cassandra, the top performer of the group. So starts a tenuous relationship of love and confusion mixed with a fierce competitiveness, getting in the way of her chances of making the grade in the tough training sessions, and affecting her attitude at home. making her withdrawn and sullen.

A tamer, more sensitive film than I had garnered from the blurb, it never reaches dizzy heights of intrigue or romance, preferring to remain gently simmering off the hob The main story is supplemented by (arguably the star of the show) Sara - Emma's little sister who is growing up all too quickly, getting a massive crush on her (much) older cousin and determined to win him for herself. It deals with sensitive subjects all around the area of developing sexual and emotional feelings with a steady but slightly daring hand. 7.5/10

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