From a year in which everything felt at a standstill, get transported by these brand new shorts on the theme of Mobile from the brightest Scottish and Northern Irish talent at this years Edinburgh International Film Festival.
Prosopagnosia – Director Steven Fraser – 10 mins
Prosopagnosia means face-blindness, and to understand this neurodiverse behaviour, the contents of a memory box are intricately explored. Sketchbooks, photographs and diaries unravel to tell a unique and personal story.
An animation that allows humour to come to the fore despite the evident frustration and pain that having Prosopagnosia brings to a person. Often such diagnoses are swept to the side, not seen as important enough to be concerned with. Yet, in Steven Fraser’s film, it makes you sit up and take notice as our narrator details his struggles. The lack of a complete emotional connection has obviously rocked this man. Despite his, at times, light-hearted attitude, you sense the difficulties.
Fraser allows great accessibility to his film with a bright and vivid animation style, utilising simple but very effective methods to reel his audience in. This is shown early on as we listen to the faces drawn in the sketchbook are one by one marked over with a black marker, putting us in the same boat as our narrator. A well-made film that highlights something we all take for granted.
Run With Her – Director Lia Campbell – 13 mins
Endurance running creates a secure world for 16-year-old Emmy, where everything can be quantified and controlled. But, as influences from the outside world start to permeate, we follow the change it might bring to her relationships with the other girls on the team and within herself.
It is a coming of age documentary that highlights the changes in this world and what they also bring to the young. Emmy is understandably filled with doubt in her life. Be it from her abilities as a runner, due to comparing herself to other record holders or the fact that she is growing up and on the cusp of saying goodbye to everything she knows, from her friends to the comfort (or lack thereof) of training as a young runner.
16 is such an awkward age, and with Campbell’s observational camera, we can capture the insecurities and worries that shrouds teenagers. Filled with some gorgeous shots throughout, this could be the Belfast lad in me saying, but you connect heavily with Run With Her. A great short piece.
West Country – Director Rowan Ings – 9 mins
An atmospheric portrait of labour and land in the West Country told with reflections from local 13-year-old Conor. The film explores daily rhythms of nature and labour and relationships between men and the land in early Spring.
Who at 13 has their life planned out? Well, if you are young Conor, you may be one of the few. This level headed boy knows his future and what he at least aspires to achieve. As we listen to him detail his future, we are presented with some gorgeous visuals of the calm life on the farm. Everything is at a slower, more considerate pace, to the point that it feels almost meditative.
As the farm enters Spring, Conor is still in his Spring, with plenty of time left to make his goals to carry on his families work. You quickly get taken in by this environment. While we never linger too long at any one moment, they somehow stay with you, from the birth of a lamb to the simple care of a horse. Yet we know the people who own and work on the farm are always busy, always working to make their families lives better and the fact that this isn’t lost on Conor gives you hope. He is fully aware of the financial difficulties of running a farm, and Ings camera makes sure to highlight that. Yet, there is a lot of care here in her contemplative film. It leaves you considering your own life and experiences at a similar age.
Born in Damascus – Director Laura Wadha – 16 mins
After ten years apart, a Scottish filmmaker tries to reconnect with her closest cousin. Once so similar, their paths were separated by war. As they piece together memories of Syria, they begin to wonder – ‘What happened to our family?’
Laura Wadha brings a sense of remorse in her film that you can never shake once you get through the opening credit crawl. First, the regret of not having her family around her anymore due to having to be so spread out throughout the world due to the horrible conflict. Remorse at the fact that this conflict has happened and ruined this once close circle. As we see her try to reconnect with her cousin, you feel mournful at what they and countless others have lost in the years since the conflict started.
Wonderfully descriptive, thanks to Wadha’s narration, we feel close to her and closer to her situation. Distance between relatives is an almost certainty in life, but for it to be forced upon you is a difficult thing to swallow. We also see the trauma of such a change, her cousin’s brain has tried to wipe out the past, yet she wants to see her past to remember it. Born in Damascus is an intriguing film that treads on several themes very well, from the trauma of a broken family due to a conflict to adjusting to a new world and figuring out how much you want to remember a harrowing past. An enlightening film that, especially now, shows the staggering damage of conflict.
The Bayview – Director Daniel Cook – 18 mins
On the North East Coast of Scotland, an extraordinary family have turned the previously derelict Bayview hotel into a place of respite for international fishermen when they come to land. This film is a glimpse into this unlikely home and the transient guests who pass through it.
Interestingly, as we watch the ins and outs of the running of the accommodation and of the fishermen that reside there from time to time, We never learn as to why Susie, Jim or Matt does what she does in the Bayview. Instead, it is just heavily implied; we see that it is mainly, if not exclusively, migrant sailors staying there. So, for the most part, we merely peek our heads into this world and get quick the briefest of glimpses. You see, the community feel that the house permeates with the migrant sailors as they come ashore. We see how fondly they interact with Susie as if she is the mother hen to all of these men.
The wonderful work that this family do to help migrant workers shines through in Daniel Cook’s documentary. With discussions about immigration spread throughout, we can see the plight some of these workers are in. Thank goodness for this trio.
For more information on our coverage of EIFF, please look below at our reviews!
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