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Festivals Film Reviews Raindance Film Festival 2024

Raindance Film Festival. Shorts Programme: Nova Express. Short and promising

The shorts programme of Nova Express in Raindance Film Festival is the curatorial equivalent of a WTF. In it, you’ll find the weirdest, funniest, craziest short films of the past few months.

With no specific thematic, Nova Express takes you on a journey through the most original minds in film making right now. Bizarre, unique and hilarious are some of the most accurate adjectives with which one can describe the programme as well as the feelings it provokes. These short films cater to a wide range of audiences, as long as you like stories that are different, that is.

Without further ado, here are the reviews of said shorts:

Beth (Seraphina Beh). Source: Maneater (Rashida Seriki, 2023).

Pasture Prime

  • Year of production: 2024
  • Director: Diffan Sina Norman.
  • Writer: Carolyn Purnell.
  • Producers: Carolyn Purnell and Diffan Sina Norman.

Synopsis

An old lady becomes obsessed with a cowboy she meets in church, things get out of hand with the most unexpected of conclusions.

Shirley Ford (Gail Cronauer) and Marvin Clope (Patrick Kirton).
Source: Pasture Prime (Diffan Sina Norman, 2024).

Review

Pasture Prime is a thriller that features a strange combination of pop culture references, expressions that become truth, and a surprising cat-and-mouse dynamic. The soundtrack follows the story, hinting at what is going on behind the textual dimension of the narrative. Furthermore, it blends seamlessly with the characters acting, enhancing the performances or changing the meaning of their expressions altogether.

There are a few inconsistencies in the story, such as why doesn’t he block her number. It is interesting that the possibility doesn’t even occur to any of the people aware of the issue.

However, these minor incongruities are gone and forgotten at the end of the short, when a final revelation upstages everything that has happened before.

Can

  • Year of production: 2024
  • Director: Kailee McGee.
  • Writer: Kailee McGee.
  • Producers: J.P. Bolles and Kailee McGee.

Synopsis

A woman with cancer decides to make a movie about her experience.

Kailee. Source: Can (Kailee McGee, 2024).

Review

While Kailee’s situation causes sympathy, the story goes little further than that. There are many narratives about cancer in cinema and, sadly, this one doesn’t stand out from the rest.

Kailee’s short is honest, raw, and aesthetically beautiful. It delves into the experience of having cancer and how those around you might change the way they perceive you and how they behave. The message is hopeful and brave, it invites everyone to be themselves without caring too much about other people’s opinion, and to figure out how to have fun and make the most out of any situation, tragic as it might be.

Maneater

  • Year of production: 2023
  • Director: Rashida Seriki.
  • Writers: Anna Brook-Mitchell and Angela Nesi.
  • Producer: John Pocock.
Zoe (Juliette Motamed). Source: Maneater (Rashida Seriki, 2023).

Synopsis

A woman turns into a literal man eater every time a guy behaves like a perv.

Review

The concept and its execution are equally brilliant in Maneater. This comedy is simple, yet so satisfying to watch. With an 80s horror movie vibe, this short brings forth a global issue. In the most accurate ways possible, it showcases how women feel every time they are around certain men.

Much like Zoe (Juliette Motamed), the protagonist, a lot of men seem to transform when they are faced with a woman at night, especially helpless women. Fortunately, in this case, the horrible narrative of harassment and abuse that women are so used to confronting is pleasantly modified.

Zoe (Juliette Motamed). Source: Maneater (Rashida Seriki, 2023).

Zoe represents the wrath, the frustration and the need to destroy that all women experience whenever they have to put up with a potentially dangerous pervert. Sadly, not all women can turn into savages when in danger or triggered by this filth of society. However, Maneater offers a nice respite, the beautiful possibility to see justice take place, even if it is just in fiction, and a little encouragement to fight harder against this unfair reality.

Freaks

  • Year of production: 2024
  • Director: Hazel McKibbin.
  • Writer: Stefanie Galler.
  • Producers: Caroline Cassidy and Jordan Sarf.

Synopsis

Two friends decide to try the world of escorting and have very bizarre experiences.

Bowie (Isaac Dice Vega) and Arabella (Stefanie Galler).
Source: Freaks (Hazel McKibbin, 2024).

Review

Freaks is an amusing short film about two friends and their first experiences in the world of escorting. From pretending to be someone’s dead wife to throwing cake at a man’s face, this film makes humour of some of the weirdest kinks out there.

The whole story feels surreal yet also a weirdly accurate account of real-life events. The best way to describe it would be to say that, in this case, the short reflects the moments when reality outshines fiction.

While kink shaming feels a bit outdated in this day and age, the point of view and the lack of malice in favour of the comical truth, make Freaks an enjoyable short to watch. The dialogues do feel quite forced, especially at the beginning, when the two friends are talking before going on their respective dates, but this awkwardness is later resolved by the second and third acts, which are pure cringy fun.

Hidden Depth

  • Year of production: 2023
  • Director: Jacob Sutton.
  • Writers: Jacob Sutton and John Gilkey.
  • Producer: Lollywould.

Synopsis

A director and an actor are neighbours. The actor tries to get in touch with the other to make a project together, but receives no reply.

John (John Gilkey). Source: Hidden Depth (Jacob Sutton, 2023).

Review

Hidden Depth is a symphony dedicated to overthinkers. Through the creation of different videos with props, John (John Gilkey) tries to get in touch with his neighbour Jacob (Jacob Sutton), a film director, to start a project together. The lack of answer from Jacob makes John try weirder and weirder things to get his attention until he finally gets an explanation for Jacob’s silence.

As an overthinker, the slow descent into madness that John experiences speaks volumes about the experience of people with this kind of mindset. As does his relief when Jacob does provide an explanation.

John (John Gilkey). Source: Hidden Depth (Jacob Sutton, 2023).

The isolation that John feels is devastating as well as hilarious and very well curated. It is fascinating to see what an amazing piece of unique comedy can come out from the prompt of “one actor and one prop”. The use of random props is genius, especially in the way the end up making sense and actually sending a message.

All in all, Hidden Depth is a great piece of entertainment, full of imagination and comedy, that will make you feel seen as well as entertain you.

Tuesday Film

  • Year of production: 2023
  • Director: Kaylinn Duffy.
  • Writer: Kaylinn Duffy.
  • Producers: Kaylinn Duffy and Bradley Balsters.

Synopsis

An American girl from the south shows snippets of her daily life.

Still from Tuesday Film (Kaylinn Duffy, 2023).

Review

Tuesday Film paints a picture of the redneck society through the perspective of a self-centred teenage girl named Kasey (Sadie Dickerson). This portrayal focuses on her daily life, showcasing her relationships, thoughts and actions as realistically as possible.

This faithfulness to reality sometimes leads to revolting moments that the spectators voyeuristically witness. However, most of the content has to do with Christian symbols, violence, sexism and junk food. Thus maintaining the stereotypical idea of redneck societies that the world already has. As far as innovation goes, there isn’t much, but the photography is quite beautiful, even during repellent moments.

Pathological

  • Year of production: 2023
  • Director: Alison Rich.
  • Writer: Alison Rich.
  • Producers: Bridgett Greenberg and Ingrid Haas.

Synopsis

A pathological liar sees all her lies come true, learning that they are not the way to happiness that she expected.

Juliette (Alison Rich). Source: Pathological (Alison Rich, 2023).

Review

Pathological is another version of the well-known fable moral “careful what you wish for”. In this case, Juliet (Alison Rich) is the protagonist to whom this advice is directed. She lies constantly in an attempt to impress people and connect with them. Obviously, this is a terrible strategy that doesn’t work.

Juliet is able to take a peek into what her life would look like if all her lies, which she thinks are the only way to make her interesting and likeable, were true. In her journey, Juliet makes us laugh, dies from second-hand embarrassment, and stress out.

Still from Pathological (Alison Rich, 2023).

All in all, Pathological is a great example of how people nowadays feel forced to be extraordinary in order to be worth it. A sad reality with which way too many people can connect.

Golden Child

  • Year of production: 2023
  • Director: Hannah Levin.
  • Writer: Hannah Levin.
  • Producers: Gracie Catanzarite, Liz Maupin and Hannah Levin.

Synopsis

After receiving no support from her family, a woman decides to get closure in her own terms.

Lulu (Hannah Levin) and Jay (Sachin Bhatt).
Source: Golden Child (Hannah Levin, 2024).

Review

Golden Child is comedy made closure. A young woman (Hannah Levin) decides to confront her family about her childhood trauma and the way in which they are perpetuating it instead of addressing it and supporting her. In yet another case of double standards, her family ignore her, forcing her to take matters into her own hands.

The frustration and eventual gratification that this film provides is priceless. Everyone has experienced family issues, and all women have been in a situation where they aren’t heard or taken seriously. Seeing this woman resolve her problems with such decisiveness is as inspiring as it is hilarious.

Ultimately, Golden Child addresses the toxicity that can be found in those most close to you and inspires to find your own closure, however that might look like.

Advice to take from these short films:

  • Men should be educated to respect women so that women don’t need to learn how to rip their heads off.
  • You would be surprised what people would do for money.
  • It is important to nourish imagination.
  • You are in control of your own closure.
Beth (Seraphina Beh). Source: Maneater (Rashida Seriki, 2023).

What’s your take? Did you go to the Nova Express session in Raindance Film Festival? Which of the short films did you enjoy the most? Why? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below, in my contact page or through my Instagram! For more reviews and cinema-related articles check out the rest of my blog! đŸ˜€

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