REVIEW: Cambridge Shorts

An excellent night of Cambridge filmmaking

ADC theatre Cambridge cambridge shorts Cambridge University Cinema student film

CAMshorts second edition screened this Tuesday, with the charismatic yet self deprecating Joe Shalom acting as the master of ceremonies for Cambridge’s own mini film festival.

In classic spirit he seemed on mostly friendly (and at times competitive) terms with the films directors and production staff, a natural product of the much neglected film scene’s thespian core. The night unfolded with a range of shorts, approximately 5 minutes in length, from the artiest of ADC ubiquitous to some far less serious (and notably more popular with the inebriated audience).

Shot from 'Are you popular?', directed by Fay Cartwright

Shot from ‘Are you popular?’, directed by Fay Cartwright, featuring Sasha Brooks and Tom Ingham.

First to screen was ‘Result of Rainy Days’, something of a slice of life flick engendered with the competitive hot house environment of a tennis school (reminiscent of something perhaps?). The short touched on the nature of structured technical learning to stifle creative expression, and while feeling somewhat understated managed to touch on issues potentially relevant to those somewhat disaffected by their course. While the cinematography was slightly on the mediocre side, the films brand of comedically awkward dialogue gave it a homely feel, allowing it to hit home in a way a more dour film could not.

Next on the setlist was “It’s Okay If it’s Catchy’, a film exploring the disparity between modern pop lyricism and general conversation. While the film did fantastic job in highlighting the lewd (and somewhat threatening) nature of the blandest of American pop/RnB/hip-hop/house, it’s incredibly short running time (particularly relative to all the other films, itself raising questions) made it feel slightly conceptual. By far the highlight was ‘the Office’ like close ups of it’s awkwardly reacting characters, an opinion shared by the audience.

The third film to premier was “The Long Walk”, the only short to film on exotic ground and yet perhaps the one leaving most to be desired. Based on the story of a lost soldier in the America-Mexico war, the short appeared to be reaching towards grander themes and meanings than it ever managed. While the beautiful shots of the introduction promised much, for the most part they stranded an awkward middle ground: too high in quality to feel quaintly amateurish yet missing the cinematographic beauty of a professional shoot. Particularly telling were the audience laughing during moments that appeared to be some of the films most serious.

Elliot Wright and Declan Amphlett in '7 steps to becoming a student druglord'

Elliot Wright and Declan Amphlett in ‘7 steps to becoming a student druglord’

Following that ‘epic’ came the far more light hearted “7 Steps To Becoming A Student Druglord. Apparently inspired by The Big Short, Patrick Brook’s juxtaposition of white middle class sensibilities and hardcore class A drug dealing proved incredibly popular with the at this point sozzled audience. Fast paced, dynamic and montage like, the films true quality lay in its wonderful editing leading to what was probably the comedic highlight of the night.

In a drastic change of tone, the following film “Not A Love Poem” provided a sombre but well executed take on the break up trope, albeit in a more familiar manner for the student crowd. Particular highlights include the performance of Os Leanse, one which would put the entire soap opera chaff to shame, and the well chosen shots in general. For many, this was one to strike hard at some very subtle issues, a fantastic achievement in student film and the nights serious peak.

Helen Vella Taylor in "Not a love poem" directed by Louis Norris

Helen Vella Taylor in “Not a love poem” directed by Louis Norris

To finish up, Fay Cartwright’s “Are You Popular” presented an amusing satire on our generations irrational love of attention, particularly poignant in the age of social media. Following two “mental posho’s” attempts to win the eyes of a inevitably boring but equivalently wealthy cool kids (purely for the sake of Instagram likes), the film titillated the audience constantly, before producing a twist to bring the house down.

Overall a great end to a top night of student filmmaking.