UK COMPETITION: Close Quarters
Wednesday, 20 January 2021
SISTERS, dir. Tanya Ronder, Louis Norris, Hector Norris
Compulsions, crushes and cravings come to a head in these portraits of social dysfunction and bad company kept.
From unsuccessful stand up to family interventions over Zoom, to the destructive dynamic between Tanoa Sasraku’s Pierrot and their whitefaced tormentor, these short works profile the clashes and near-misses of our lives overlapping with others.
With new scripted work and a lead performance from Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out, Black Panther), a comedic turn from Derry Girls' Siobhán McSweeney and high drama from Hermione Norris (Spooks).
Programmed by Philip Ilson. 74'
This programme contains gore and violence. Please note the film Two Single Beds can only be accessed by UK audiences at the request of the filmmaker.
TWO SINGLE BEDS
William Stefan Smith
Doncaster, South Yorkshire: a dead-end comedy night is underway. It’s a long way from London and miles from home for two comedians who find refuge in each other’s company.
“William Stefan Smith directs this two-hander starring Daniel Kaluuya and Seraphina Beh as Black comedians performing at an out-of-town gig to varying receptions from a white audience. When they miss the last train back to London they’re forced to share a hotel room together, and as the night progresses, they make small talk whilst trying to skirt around the metaphorical elephant in the twin room: the underlying sexual tension that accompanies two strangers sleeping beside each other. Despite the involvement of comedy and the potential of romance, this isn’t really a rom-com, but rather a study of intimacy and vulnerability.”
— Dan Guthrie
Sophia Di Martino
A woman washes the dishes and becomes increasingly infatuated with her neighbour.
"Truly a tonic, Scrubber puts unwitting face (Derry Girls’ Siobhán McSweeney) to the romantic drought of lockdown. Living on her own, the lifecycle of a one-woman flirtation plays out in our titular scrubber’s flat - from the intoxicating first throes of glimpsing a neighbour’s nipple out the kitchen window, to the ‘climactic’ release of imagined caresses received over washing up. With gentle wit and McSweeney’s irresistible charms, the film’s empathy for its protagonist radiates, indulging, and never mocking, the fullness of her desire in seven short minutes."
— Jenna Roberts
Tanya Ronder, Louis Norris, Hector Norris
It’s the height of lockdown, and Beth has asked her older sisters for a video call. She’s expecting a functional chat about how to split mum’s shopping bill, but the conversation takes a darker turn. A hyperrealistic family drama devised remotely through improvisation.
“Sleek, successful Claire (Spooks’ Hermione Norris) and homemaker Annie (Anastasia Hille, The Missing) respond to a Zoom call from the scattered Beth (Penny Layden, The Libertine), who we learn has been co-opted into caring for their unstable mother during lockdown. With dialogue mainly born of structured improvisation, the short comes off as natural and honest in its display of the past year’s anxieties, with an energy from its three excellent performers that resonates particularly well to siblings with difficult parents. Each character’s wholeness and familiarity is facilitated by the video call format, which, as filmmakers are quickly learning, can showcase an entirely new form of intimacy.”
— Sylvie Dumont
Pierrot Mulatto must catch a giant sycamore seed that spins down every day from the arms of Harlequin Jack, a crazed black man in whiteface driven mad by his own quest for British acceptance. Jack toys with Pierrot throughout the story, performing a satirical essence of white British sensibility whilst referencing early minstrel troupes’ caricatures of the post-slavery, black populace.
“Drawing from the tropes of mime and minstrelsy, the titular character of Tanoa Sasraku’s O’ Pierrot (played by the artist herself) acts out the Sisyphean task of catching a falling leaf day after day whilst being taunted by a black harlequin in white face. Sasraku’s experience of growing up as a mixed-race gay woman in the English countryside, grappling with the notion of British identity, is channeled into this fantastical performance. Its aesthetic choice to utilise bygone cinematic tropes positions the work as if a ‘lost classic’ of film history, perhaps an attempt by the artist to retrospectively re-write the canon and see herself reflected in it.”
— Dan Guthrie
Paul Nicholas Holbrook, Sam Dawe
A single mother struggles to bond with her apathetic child born with an insatiable and increasingly inhumane appetite.
“Filmmakers Paul Holbrook and Sam Dawe have created maybe the world’s worst ASMR video. In 22 minutes, its sound editing alone may have some spectators glued to their seats and some rushing for the nearest bucket. Playing on a Rosemary’s Baby trope of a mother’s instincts versus an unbelieving world, we watch alongside a despairing Laura as son Joe grows from wailing, needy infancy to ravenous - and deadly - adulthood. The simplicity of something so commonplace as a growing boy’s appetite taken to such grotesque extremes cinches this as the perfect horror short.”
— Sylvie Dumont