The main attractions at Sheffield Doc/Fest may be the activities, talks, Q&As and feature films. Let’s not forget, however, that there are a whole host of short films on offer too. These range all the way from two minutes to 38. Gethin Morgan takes a look at this year’s five shortest shorts, all coming in at five minutes or less.
Hands Up, Chin Down (Dir. Matt Houghton):
A three-minute montage of 30-year volunteer boxing coach, Jerry Mitchell. It’s essentially three minutes of footage from the gym playing over Mitchell’s constant stream of instructions. An interesting little nugget looking atpositive and negative motivational techniques.
Song for Europe (Dir. John Smith):
Bizarre. Absolutely mental. This starts with a powerful message about the contrast between the collaborative Eurotunnel build in 1990, in comparison to the isolationist Brexit vote in 2016. After that it’s just one really unspectacular shot of some cars in the Eurotunnel accompanied by a super-weird a cappella song, largely made up of the words “sing to travel with Eurotunnel”. No idea. Honestly. Mental.
House (Dir. Kyja Kristjansson-Nelson):
Also slightly mental. This little Icelandic number is the shortest of the lot at two minutes. Images of different houses are cut to the beat of a very in-your-face score. Then it gets a little trippy as the director starts cropping out the background, parts of the houses and in one mind-blowing shot actually crops out the house. Pretty ridiculous stuff but I’m into it.
Last Man Standing (Dir. Lucy Knox & W.a.m. Bleakley):
Well this is just a delightful little piece on Werner Winkelmann, the only motion picture film processor still working in Australia. Images of him at work are shown as he provides a simple yet heartwarming voice-over, where he talks about his work and the switch from film to digital photography. It’s a delicate art and he looks at it from a mechanical point of view. In just five minutes he comes across as a gentle soul as well as a talented craftsman. Lovely.
Skywards (Eva Weber):
This peaceful short is a portrayal of pigeons flying above Old Delhi, India. Shot seemingly in portrait on an iPhone, Weber cleverly utilises that fact to split the screen in thirds. It’s really aesthetically pleasing and the soft musical accompaniment also plays its part in what is a really gentle watch. Who knew pigeons could be so calming?
Image credit: Sheffield Doc/Fest