BRADFORD HALIFAX LONDON, Francis Lee
BRADFORD HALIFAX LONDON, Francis Lee

London Short Film Festival (LSFF) unveiled its full 2018 program of over 500 UK and international short films, screening over 10 days, from January 12 to 21, 2018.

The 15th anniversary content includes We Dare To Fail, a strand that screens the early LSFF entries from uncompromising auteur filmmakers. There will be shorts shown from Francis Lee (God’s Own Country), Hope Dickson-Leach (The Levelling), and Alice Lowe (Prevenge). The celebratory retrospective will also feature shorts from the directors behind The Greasy Strangler, Berberian Sound Studio, Couple in a Hole, Spaceship, Gone Too Far, True West, and Nina Forever. There are also early-career cameos from the likes of Michael Fassbender and Danny Dyer when their stars were rising.

Brexit Shorts: Dramas From A Divided Nation marks the one year anniversary of the divisive decision to leave the EU, with new short films from notable scriptwriters and actors in response to the referendum.

Other highlights from the program include trailblazing films from Iranian poet Forough Farrokhzad (in partnership with MUBI), video artist William E Jones’ reclaiming of police surveillance footage of the gay community in 60s Ohio, and LSFF’s own With Teeth artists premiering newly commissioned experimental AV work. Ngozi Onwurah is the first Black British woman to have a feature film released in UK cinemas (Welcome II The Terrordome,1995), and there will be a legacy screening of her rare works, for which Ngozi will be in attendance. Pioneering lesbian filmmaker Barbara Hammer will be answering questions following a screening of her films.

There will also be a retrospective of Dawn Shadforth’s music video back catalogue, looking at the work of pop doyennes Kylie Minogue, Bjork, Sugababes, and Peaches. Other music video events include a new visual project from Domino, in celebration of their long association with LSFF.

A brand new competition strand to celebrate the 15th anniversary is made up of six programs, all of which exemplify the Festival’s commitment to diversity and continual audience development. The 36 selected films take in migration, prejudice, survival and the darker side of family life, and dissect everything from the entertainment industry to reality itself. The esteemed international short film jury includes French filmmaker Lucile Hadžihalilović, international short film festival curator Lili Hartwig, and Fish Tank actress Katie Jarvis. Each LSFF 2018 Competition program will screen twice, at Curzon Soho and Rich Mix.

As always, the core of LSFF is the New Shorts section; programs of short films selected from 2500 open submissions into the Festival, with popular, returning slots from Funny Shit to Leftfield & Luscious, from Lo-Budget Mayhem to A Winter’s Matinee of Romantic Films, alongside new themes around identity, visibility and relationships.

LSFF will screen films at important cultural landmarks in London’s film community, including the ICA, which has hosted LSFF every year since it began. New venues for 2018 includethe Rich Mix in Shoreditch; Regent Street Cinema Curzon Soho, the Rio Cinema in Dalston and the BFI Southbank. The industry program will take place entirely at its new home at MOTH Club in Hackney.

2018 will also showcase new With Teeth projects. LSFF’s long-term short film commissioning fund, aims to become a solid support base for the most exciting emerging cinematic voices and auteurs, supported by Arts Council England National Lottery Funding. Tash Tung, Kim Noce and Zoe Aiano, will premiere newly commissioned experimental work that uses a range of unconventional AV techniques to enhance and communicate beautiful and nuanced stories.

As a champion of diverse and inclusive film, LSFF continues to see a huge contribution from women, LGBT and BAME filmmakers, and in a Festival first will introduce a program led by and for the D/deaf community.

With an established network of sponsors and supporters who help champion the Festival, LSFF strives to become more accessible and inclusive with the support of the BFI and Arts Council England, both awarding funds from the National Lottery. LSFF is also proud to have been awarded the Screen Diversity mark of good practice for meeting the BFI Diversity Standard, which recognises the Festival’s commitment in this endeavour.

LONDON SHORT FILM FESTIVAL 15TH ANNIVERSARY

The festival celebrates its 15th year in 2018 with a retrospective of the early works of auteur directors who all showcased short films at the festival at the beginning of their careers. With films like God’s Own Country, The Greasy Strangler, Berberian Sound Studio, The Levelling, Prevenge, Couple in a Hole, Spaceship, Gone Too Far, True West, Nina Forever representing great British films from the last few years, by uncompromising auteurs, who have all screened early works at London Short Film Festival.

We Dare To Fail: 15 Years of LSFF looks at pieces by the directors of films including Francis Lee (God’s Own Country) and Alice Lowe (Prevenge), amongst many others. Filmmakers will be in attendance, and the event will be hosted on stage by LSFF co-founders Philip Ilson and Kate Taylor.

Alongside BAFTA winners Simon Ellis and Joe Lawlor & Christine Molloy (The Desperate Optimists), we bring an incredible selection of shorts back to this very special 15th anniversary screening.

This impressive collection of shorts come from:

FREE SPEECH The Blaine Brothers 2004, 6 mins
LITTLE CLUMPS OF HAIR Jim Hosking 2003, 12 mins
WHAT THE Simon Ellis 2004, 7 mins
WHO KILLED BROWN OWL? The Desperate Optimists 2004, 10 mins
A METAPHYSICAL EDUCATION Peter Strickland 2004, 3 mins
SHAME Tom Geens 2006, 4 mins
LADIES IN WAITING Hope Dickson Leach 2005, 7 mins
STICKS AND BALLS Alice Lowe / Jacqueline Wright 2007, 4 mins
TIGHT JEANS Destiny Ekaragha 2008, 9 mins
KIDS MIGHT FLY Alex Taylor 2009, 7 mins
MAN ON A MOTORCYCLE John McClean 2009, 12 mins
BRADFORD HALIFAX LONDON Francis Lee 2013, 9 mins

POLITICAL

The Guardian and Headlong Theatre have teamed up to mark the one-year anniversary of the controversial decision to leave the EU, with Brexit Shorts: Dramas From A Divided Nation. A raft of prominent scriptwriters and well-known actors from each region were commissioned to highlight the nation’s growing divisions in their area at a moment of seismic political change.

A mix of noteworthy names across screenwriting and acting are involved in the shorts, with scripts and stories from Maxine Peake and Abi Morgan, playwrights David Hare and Gary Owen, and actors including Kristen Scott Thomas, Meera Syal, and Penelope Wilton amongst many others.

The screenings will be followed by a panel discussion with Jess Gormley and Noah Payne-Frank from The Guardian, Amy Hodge from Headlong Theatre and a live performance from one of the actors in the films.

MUSIC

Dawn Shadforth: Spinning Around takes a look at one of the most quietly prolific music video auteurs of the 90s, Dawn Shadforth, who has created visuals for the likes of Kylie Minogue, Björk, Sugababes, and Peaches. A Q&A with Dawn and special guests follows.

This year there’s a celebration of 15 years of LSFF and Domino, working together, It’s All Good!, is an evening of music videos, DJs, giveaways and surprises. Domino have created and curated music videos from a wealth of directors since LSFF’s inception, and this event will see the introduction of new visual projects.

To celebrate the legacy of of women in British rap and MC-ing, Home Girls: Live sees LSFF team up with contemporary performers who are currently raising the bar in a scene dominated by men. The closing night party will feature a special guest appearance from Hackney-based Paigey Cakey, and special guests TBA, in a homegrown London-centric talent event.

Home Girls: From Cookie Crew to Now, takes stock of the representation of female hip-hop artists over the decades, from the swim-suited video vixen to the in control and hyper sexualized. Cookie Crew, Wee Papa Girl Rappers and She Rockers burst onto the scene in the 80s and 90s with a self-defined, powerful onscreen image. A panel discussion with members of the bands, and key industry figures will follow.

LGBTQ

LGBTQ content this year is led by long time LSFF collaborators New Queer Visions. The first film program, Don’t Look Back In Anger, looks at the nature of hate and positivity, with touching stories about queer characters dealing with ups, downs, and everything in between. This is accompanied by Medium Rare, a program of medium length shorts exploring the mixed-up mind of an impressionable young man.

In partnership with MUBI, Radical Softness Through A Haptic Lens is a retrospective of the works of Barbara Hammer, feminist filmmaker and one of the pioneers of lesbian film, and Chick Strand, avant-garde documentary filmmaker. The films examine the idea of ‘radical softness’, the power that can be found in in being both abrasively feminine and openly vulnerable, through a soft and kinesthetic style of filmmaking. Following incredibly rare screenings of Superdyke and Soft Fictions, there will be a Skype Q&A with the legendary Barbara Hammer.

Also in association with MUBI is Cruelty and Crime, a showcase of the key works of American writer Chris Kraus. From feminist readings of Antonin Artaud to Cold War sleeper agents, via dominatrices and New York City crime scenes, these films are filled with humour, sexuality, abjection, metaphor, allusion, an insatiable curiosity and a Dadaist sense of provocation and absurdity.

A collection of 1962 police footage documenting men cruising in a public toilet, was reworked and re-presented by William E Jones as a separate work, Tearoom* in 2007. The experimental video art project shows how surveillance is used as a blunt tool of oppression. The footage shown was eventually used as evidence to prosecute the men of sodomy and public deviancy.

Prior to the screening LSFF will also be showcasing Robert Yang’s game The Tearoom, a cruising simulation made in direct response to the film. On release the game ran afoul of the censors and so in a bold piece of satirical provocation Yang replaced all the penises with guns. The game was then successfully passed uncut. Additionally we also welcome filmmaker Sam Ashby, who will present a newly commissioned work in response to Tearoom, and artist Prem Sahib for a post screening discussion of the themes highlighted in the work.

*18 – contains scenes of real sexual activity.

BAME

When director Julie Dash created the groundbreaking Daughters of the Dust in 1991, a multigenerational tale of black women from the Gullah sea islands struggling to hold on to their culture, little did she know that 25 years later her work would be held up on the world stage thanks to one of the music industry’s most influential artists: Beyoncé. Given the subject matter and the detail paid to the cinematography, Dash’s film provided an obvious touchstone to inspire Beyoncé’s vision in Lemonade.

2009’s Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam refers respectively to ‘taqwa’ and ‘core’, a synthesis of an awe-inspiring consciousness of Allah, and a hard-core punk music style, and a fusion of Muslim and American culture.

A panel discussion, Muslim Punk and the New Subculture, hosted by filmmaker Hammad Khan asks what happened to Taqwacore, and questions how class, race, and gender are tied to Muslim resistance to Trump and Brexit.

Hammad Khan’s Anima State is arguably the most important film to come out of Pakistan in decades. As we approach the 70th anniversary of the country’s independence from British India, it is an uncomfortable, in-your-face examination of the country’s violence, to its apathy, to its refusal to recognize its moral corruption, in every single facet of Pakistani society.

Pioneer of Black British cinema Ngozi Onwurah’s body of work weaves autobiographical narrative with astute socio-political observation. As the first Black British woman filmmaker to have a feature film released in UK cinemas we celebrate Ngozi’s legacy with a screening of early works and panel discussion in Ngozi Onwurah: Shorts. A rare 35mm screening of Welcome II The Terrordome will also show at the festival.

The House is Black, a screening of the only known film by one of Iran’s greatest 20th century poets Farough Farrokazad, depicts an isolated community of lepers living in Northwestern Iran, and is soundtracked by a reading from the poet herself. There will be a reading of her work, translated into English, and The Oberhausen Archive have kindly donated a 35mm print of the film.

CULTURE

The festival will open with Adrena Adrena’s Movements of A Nebulous Dawn, supported by Arts Council England. This is a one-off audiovisual collaboration, with a 360-degree nebulous orb defying the conventions of theatrical presentation, as musicians perform in-the-round beneath multiple circular projections created by Daisy Dickinson. An improvised live set will see a constantly changing and evolving set of guest musicians from Faust, Wire, Boredoms and other experimental, electronic and progressive bands. Julian Hand, who directed the 2018 LSFF trailer, will be projecting psychedelic visuals using coloured liquids and slides.

This year’s festival sees a first for LSFF, with a premiere screening exclusively for D/deaf audiences, curated by LSFF’s Deaf Young programr Zoe McWhinney. Save The Date, a selection of archive and contemporary short films, brings stories about D/deaf culture and experience to the screen. The screening, at BFI Southbank, will be fully supported by BSL interpreters, and films will include BSL dialogue, and/or subtitles.

The Final Girls Present: The Witching Hour is a screening of two of the original 1970s documentaries that showcase the continuing, cultural obsession with witchcraft and the occult. Secret Rites is a pseudo documentary illustrating a series of initiation rites for a novice witch, while The Power of the Witch is a rarely-seen documentary featuring interviews with the King and Queen of the witch craze, Alex and Maxine Sanders. The Final Girls will host a panel discussion following the screenings.

An in-conversation event around the works of the cult sci-fi author, JG Ballard: This Is The Way, Step Inside, explores the writer’s 20th century preoccupation with the machine vs. the 21st century obsession with the digital towards an anthropological take on disembodiment, honing in on how Ballard perceives both the body, and the human condition. The panel is made up of filmmakers Jason Wood, Simon Barker and Harley Cokeliss, with Ballard scholar Dr. Jeanette Baxter.

Radio Atlas: Risk is an award-winning platform for subtitled audio from around the world. A place to hear inventive documentaries and aural art works that have been made in languages you don’t necessarily speak. This intimate event premieres documentaries which explore the thin line between freedom and risk, taking the listener to unexpected places, with a Q&A discussion with Radio Atlas founder Eleanor McDowall.

INTERNATIONAL

As the international film strand enters its fourth year, a program of four screenings brings together some of the most unique voices in fiction, documentary and experimental filmmaking.

LSFF have shorts from all over the world, with entries from China, Cuba, Slovenia, and Mozambique, to name a fraction. The festival is becoming a key player on the festival circuit when it comes to showing high quality and well-curated international short film.

WITH TEETH

With Teeth is a bi-annual commissioning award from LSFF, supported by Arts Council England, aimed at embodying LSFF’s core principle of championing contemporary artists moving image works, diverging from more traditional avenues of funding to nurture diverse and unconventional independent short filmmaking.

Following the second round of awards from the commissioning fund, the With Teeth Premiere will showcase the works of the three recipients of this year’s grant, Kim Noce, Zoe Aiano, and Tash Tung.

Their films use experimental methods, including Your Mothers Are Mine! a projected live animation by Kim Noce observing the complexities of the mother daughter relationship. A multi-screen fiction explores the multiplicities of the image and female domesticity by Tash Tung in Unknown Pleasure. Zoe Aiano presents a wild and delicate documentary of a life spent communicating with the dead, in Imam Pesnu.

INDUSTRY EVENTS

This year’s industry program sees experts from across the industry offering their words of wisdom on everything from getting your film funded, to engaging audiences.

There’ll be contributions from Channel 4 Random Acts, BBC3, Noisey, and Bechdel Test Fest; Director of VR and New Media at Raindance Mária Rakušanová, will be sharing her expertise in ‘AR You Feeling It?’ and Alexander Karotsch of Fringe! Film Festival will be there to discuss ethical responsibility in ‘Let’s Talk About Sex’.

All LSFF 2018 Industry events take place at MOTH Club, which has been turned into the festival’s day time Industry hub.

As well as tips on funding, and what commissioners are looking for, the talks and discussions cover everything from driving feminist change in cinema, depicting sex on screen, how to manage the relationship between filmmakers and progamers, and an insight into how new AR technologies are being used to drive stories and emotional responses.

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