Film Review: Documentary Shorts – MANIFF 2015

Doc Shorts MANIFF

Documentary Shorts at MANIFF 2015

Vikki Rutter reviews five documentary shorts that made the official short film selection at the 2015 Manchester Film Festival.

The Last Little Show at The End of the World

UK Premiere
Director: Rhys Edwards

The Last Little Show at The End of the World follows one of the few travelling entertainers that still moves from place to place in the dark of night with his home on wheels and a trailer that becomes his set. He shares the difficulties of being on the road and the challenges that a life like this brings.

Doing it just to see the smile and wonder on the faces of both children and adults, using the original music score he found on a tape in a skip one day, he will die on stage, happy that for him the last thing he will hear are the giggle of the audience, as they believe it’s part of the show.

The Last Little Show at The End of the World is a tender, gentle short film.

3 out of 5 stars

Code Oakland

UK Premiere
Director: Kelly Amis

Code Oakland has a great story but is ruined by the camera work and editing.

With no shot held for more than 4 seconds and blurring pans it makes for a difficult watch. Not because of the content (which is actually a great concept) but because you are very aware you are watching something and you have to struggle to keep up with the images rather than just following the story.

Oakland in California is set to be the new extension to Silicon Valley and there are a fascinating group of people who are trying to make that extension more inclusive.

With Oakland being equally racially diverse with the population split proportionally White, Black, Hispanic and Asian,  Silicon Valley is 60% white 30% Asian and less than 13% female.

Youth organisations in Oakland are training and nurturing the youngsters, teaching them how how to code, creating opportunities for them to develop skills that would not be easily open to them. Young black teenagers who are stereotyped as thugs and criminals and girls that aren’t typically seen as engineers. Those companies that move to Oakland will hopefully be hiring young, diverse, educated, qualified coders.

If the edit was better Code Oakland would be a good little short.

3 out of 5 stars

It’s My Birthday and I’ll fly If I Want To

UK Premiere
Director: Morgana Muses

It’s my birthday and I’ll fly if I want to is a self indulgent very light S&M short that details the journey the writer, producer and star, Morgana Muses undertakes when she grants herself permission to indulge and enjoy life, trying to expose the issue of age and sex.

Peaking with the gift that she has commissioned to commemorate her 50th birthday, a milestone she believed she would never reach, although she never explains why which is probably why the short lacks any documentary feel.

It’s my birthday and I’ll fly if I want to is a dull self penned adulation short. That not even rope loving Fifty Shades of Grey readers will find erotic. Garth Knight the rope artist gets one star for his creation of knotted ropes.

As the writer/director/producer herself says “it’s a gift to myself”, and that’s how It’s my birthday and I’ll fly if I want to should stay. As a gift to herself and not to everyone else.

1 out of 5 stars

Sun Village

UK Premiere
Directors: Zoey Lee and Matthew Belbin

Sun Village is an amazing story that could last a lot longer than the short.

Not many Chinese people even know that Sun Village in Beijing even exists, but it does and it’s there to help those in Chinese society that need it.

With the main organiser being an ex policewoman, who during her time on the force discovered the perpetuating circle of crime, coursed by parents being in jail, and their children left to fend for themselves, also finding that they get court up in the system.

In order to stop this she has set up a home or ‘village’ for the children and young adults of convicts to live in whilst their parents are incarcerated.

The children’s lives are enriched and they are cared for that helps break the cycle of crime breeding crime. Her aim is to have more villages like Sun Village across China but ultimately to have no villages.

Sun Village is a moving short and highly recommended.

4 out of 5 stars

Sun Village

Dance of the People

World Premiere
Director: Marc Menish

Dance of the People is a simple short. It tells a story, it has a few little giggles and is well put together.

Dance of the People introduces us to the ‘Green Grass Cloggers’ who have taken precision clogging to new heights. Taking styles from all over the world, from Irish dancing to square dance creating a mixture of dancing in unison while moving through figures. Swishing dresses and high kicks all to the sound of old-time fiddle and banjo music.

It shows that clogging is also diverse mixing the traditional hoedown with the frolics and constantly being updated by the “youngsters with good knees” who learn the traditional 40 year old clogging and add their own styles.

Constantly evolving clogging is big in the American South and Dance of the People gives you a quick glimpse into this.

3 out of 5 stars