5 Films To Get You Through Exam Term

The directors of the 5 short films premiering at Cambridge Shorts suggest some essential exam-term viewing.

ADC Cambridge University Comedy Drama Film film night Mark Danciger patrick brookes short films

Struggling to find the motivation to work? Looking for some procrastination? There’s always time to step out of the library and curl up in front of a film.

On the 17th of May, the ADC is hosting its’ first ever short film night, showcasing 5 exciting new short films from up and coming student directors. We asked the directors to suggest their pick of films to get you through exam term.

Listen Up Philip
Bekzhan Sarsenbay, Prelude

listen up

Exam term is when you have to do stuff you really don’t want to. Revise, memorise dates and facts, turn your three year ‘intellectual’ pursuit into three neat hour long essays. It’s a drag of obligation. My recommendation is really a movie about the opposite. Philip is at that point of his life where obligation doesn’t apply to him anymore. His second book is about to come out, and his literary idol, Ike Zimmerman, has offered to mentor him. He’s blowing up. Success frees him, and it turns out that free Philip is a huge asshole. Watching him is both painful and kind of a blast, especially when he’s talking to academics.

Listen Up Philip doesn’t romanticise its ‘antihero’, but it doesn’t really judge him either. It’s a movie that observes, quietly, the way that relationships change with circumstances. This is kinda the central point of Prelude, a dumb movie I wrote and directed. In it, the workers and actors of a popular theatre are under curfew during a revolution, and the fear of what will happen frees these people from their obligations to each other. Both Listen Up Philip and Prelude are movies about assholes.

Mark Danciger, Tachyon


Think your degree is difficult? Trying to understand Primer, Shane Carruth’s low budget first feature, will put things into perspective. As compelling as it is confusing, Primer tells the story of a group of scientists who invent a time machine, before abusing it for their own gain. Then things start to get weird, and we’re faced with parallel universes and multiple versions of the same characters. Getting to grips with Primer will make even your most difficult topics seem like a piece of cake.

A lot of Primer’s ideas inspired my own short, Tachyon. Like Primer, Tachyon is about time travel, but in this case, sending messages back in time, and the potential consequences of messing with the laws of physics in this way. Both Primer and Tachyon are based in real theoretical physics, and present scientists in an honest, often unflattering manner.

Tom O’Mara, Clive Benderman


A cathartic masterpiece of broken masculinity. Moments of Kubrickian tableau, all shot on film by Larry Smith. Equally hilarious as it is bone-crunchingly violent.  Themes of being an outsider, rejection and loneliness tie in to my own short film: Clive. Although that’s where the comparison ends – as that would be a discredit to Bronson and everyone who worked on it. 

The Third Generation
Johnny King, Owl #307


I find that the two worst parts of exam term are the way the whole student community gets stressed, and the increased political tension surrounding elections (and this year, the NUS). The dual atmospheres of demoralised students struggling under academic pressure and reactionary partisan politics can be pretty exhausting. Consequentially, I think Fassbinder’s The Third Generation is a wonderfully satisfying film for exam term. It’s a black comedy about a group of bourgeois terrorists planning to kidnap an industrialist. Fassbinder is ambivalent in his portrayals of the drab capitalist state and the hilariously hypocritical terrorists, who struggle to cooperate amidst their insubstantial political convictions. Cynical as it is, I think this makes for good Easter term viewing.

On the other hand, my film OWL #307 is entirely concerned with introspection and solitude. It’s a claustrophobic exploration of a woman locked in a hotel room and her somewhat warped experience of isolation. Between these two films, the whole experience of Easter Term cabin fever is more or less summed up.

It Follows
Nathan Miller and Patrick Brooks, OUTSIDERS

It follows

 ‘It Follows’ is about a group of teenagers who are being implacably followed by a slow but unstoppable demon. A bit like exams ☺ It’s also a metaphor for STIs, as you can only stop the demon following you by having sex with someone. A bit like exams ☹ ☹ ☹

Our lil’ short OUTSIDERS is similar ‘cause it’s got teenagers and dribblings of horror tropes, but it’s more based on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. OUTSIDERS isn’t as good as ‘It Follows’, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but our film does contain more Avril Lavigne references.

So come to Cambridge Shorts to get a taste of these 5 directors’ own films. You can’t procrastinate better than that.

Cambridge Shorts is at 11pm on Tuesday 17th May at the ADC Theatre. You can buy tickets on the ADC website.