We all watch short films, often without realising. Music videos, documentaries, interviews, adverts, motivational speeches, animations, Vines… and whatever else catches the eye while we eat breakfast or procrastinate for hours at a time.

With this in mind, I went along to the January CineMe Shorts event at the Tobacco Factory. These nights have been running for a few years, aiming to ‘Provide a Platform for Independent Film Makers, Animators and Creatives’, not least in showing local films on a screen larger than a Youtube window. The evening included thirteen shorts ranging from ninety seconds to a main feature just over fifteen minutes, followed by a Q&A with the director.

The genres were broad, starting with the award-winning music video for Dear Reader’s Took Them Away that provides a haunting visual to lyrics of forbidden love ‘in the barn,’ then going into Stolen, a fun mini action-movie put together simply to showcase equipment that cameraman Sam Morgan Moore built himself. More narrative films like Escape Plan or the teaser for proposed feature Lansky’s Torment suffered from issues raised in their directors’ introductions, but also from trying to do too much in such a short space of time. Of the local productions, documentary No Regrets by UWE student Jim Smith stood out as an affecting account of a friendship group dealing with one of their number going to war in Afghanistan.

To add some variety, organiser James Ewen included a few of his favourite animations from around the world, including the incredible Dutch stop-motion Goodbye Mister de Vries, and Pixar-for-adults style Happily Ever After that manages to be funny, on-the-nose-depressing and uplifting, all in around six minutes. He also picked the acid trip of an animation that is Devendra Banhart’s Mondo Taurobolium, which made the comedy music video Don’t be a Can’t that followed seem almost normal…

The main feature The Fruits of Labour is the story of a father and son living in a forest after the death of their wife and mother, with Bristol Alumnus George Purves using the longer running time to create beautiful visuals while thankfully going easy on the Mother Earth symbolism. As with a few of the other films, it seemed to be an interesting idea that was too ambitious for its length, at best when staying simple and subtle. This may have been a result of filming and editing issues highlighted in the Q&A, and it would be easy to assume that all short films have these problems had we not seen such excellent work from other filmmakers.

With the footage at only seventy minutes in total, CineMe didn’t have the long-winded pretention I was admittedly expecting, with a welcoming, community feel with an audience who were keen to meet other members in the interval (for a Londoner, this was a shock). The next event is on 21st February at the Brewery, co-hosted by Ben Mitchell from animation magazine Skwigly. Landing a week after Valentines Day, the theme is ‘Love, Lust and Libido.’

Reviewer Favourites:

Goodbye Mister de Vries (Dir. Mascha Halberstad) – A Dutch stop motion film bringing to together traditional European animation like the classic ‘Fool of the World’ with a heartstring-plucking story of an old man dreaming of his ice-skating days.

No Regrets (Dir. Jim Smith) – A documentary exploring the impact on everyone surrounding 20 year old Max Woods as he returns from fighting in Afghanistan. War footage contrasts sharply with skateboarding and house parties, so the shock is all the more real. Smith keeps the message subtle and allows the audience to see the fear in the friends’ eyes without ever having to point it out.

Happily Ever After (Dirs. Yonni Aroussi & Ben Genislaw) – This time a CGI animation of a young couple moving in together, drawn uncontrollably into the terrifying world of growing up and growing old. The animation style seems bizarre at first but makes more sense as the pace picks up, the film becoming stranger and darker until it ends up a little like Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall.’ The ending is worth the weirdness, a must see for anyone afraid of commitment…

Keep up to date with more CineMe events via their website: cinemefilms.com

Review by Michael Lane