BBC Films

Rushes Soho Shorts 2009: Preview

We preview this year's Rushes Soho Shorts Festival, taking place from 22nd - 31st July.

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The Rushes Soho Shorts festival celebrates its 11th consecutive festival this year and the non-profit event that champions emerging talent continues to go from strength to strength.

This year's programme features the usual array of category screenings, plus a series of panel events, discussions, networking sessions and exhibitions. The details of all these events are available on the Rushes website, but here we'll try and flag up some of the interesting looking shorts and promising filmmakers throughout the programme

Opening Film - The Calling

The opening film of the festival is (as far as we can see) the only full-length feature in the whole programme, but it's a good one - The Calling by Jan Dunn. We've followed Jan for a number of years now (see our Case Study) and The Calling looks set to be another step towards mainstream success. The story of a young graduate (Emily Beecham) who decides to enter a nunnery rather than begin her career, it benefits from a carefully assembled cast of some of Britain's most prestigious actresses from the last 30 years, including Brenda Bleythn, Susanna York, Rita Tushingham and Amanda Donohoe.

After this opener, the festival proper begins and the shorts are split into eight main categories, six of which are outlined below (the two we haven't focused on are the International and Broadcast Design categories).

Brenda Blethyn and Emily Beecham in opening film The Calling.

Brenda Blethyn and Emily Beecham in opening film The Calling.

Rushes Short Film Award

The big name to jump out from this particular programme is that of infamous socialite and erstwhile actress Sadie Frost, who seems to be deadly serious in her attempts to become a short filmmaker. She produced a short film last year, Come Here Today, that starred Rhys Ifans and played at Encounters 2008, and has directed a new one in this category called Mrs Olsen. Whether it also calls upon A-list acting talent remains to be seen.

Other shorts we can recommend include What's Virgin Mean?, another hit from last year's Encounters, plus a new short from 2008 Trailblazer Felix Massie with the wonderful title The Surprise Demise Of Francis Cooper's Mother, and one from David Whitney, who has previous work featured on Film Network, called George's Day.

Animation Award

This Way Up, the OscarĀ®-nominated BBC Comedy Short from last year, is obviously one of our top recommendations, having had a fantastic festival run over the last couple of years. Breaking The Mould is a former DepicT! winner that can be found on Film Network, and there are also new shorts from established talent like Johnny Kelly (The Seed) and Matthew Walker (Little Face) that we can recommend. Laurie Hill's Photograph of Jesus is a fascinating hybrid of animation and documentary that's well worth catching.

Smith & Foulkes' This Way Up, from the Animation category.

Smith & Foulkes' This Way Up, from the Animation category.

Documentary Award

Still Life Aquatic looks like an intriguing prospect - a documentary about an underwater art exhibition, directed by Zac Assemakis, who previously published a photography book on a similar theme.

Emma Hardman's Luthier is a nicely paced, tranquil documentary about a man who makes violins for a living. And Does My Music Offend You Yeah? tackles a subject that will engage all viewers from urban environments - the issue of youngsters' mobile-phone music on public transport.

Longform & Music Awards

The Longform strand shouldn't be too discouraging for those averse to long shorts, as four of the six films come in at around 15 minutes in length, so it's not a particularly overwhelming programme. Joe Morris' Boy, which was another hit at last year's Encounters, is the only one we are familiar with.

The Music category features Kirk Hendry's excellent shadow puppetry video, Round, one of the 2008 BBC New Music Shorts, while Julia Pott's White Corolla/Casiotone For The Painfully Alone is a short and sweet music video featuring the amorous antics of an array of animated animals.

Kirk Hendry's Round, which contests the Music Award.

Kirk Hendry's Round, which contests the Music Award.

Newcomers Award

The newcomers strand features some very strong shorts, including Tight Jeans, which impressed the London Film Festival programmers enough for them to include a clip in last year's highlights reel. The haunting I Stood Up is another DepicT! winner that can be found on Film Network, while Saltmark was selected by this year's Edinburgh Film Festival and the new film from David Beauchamp, director of Waving At Cars, should be worth a look (Fresh Meat).

Destiny Ekaragha's Tight Jeans, playing in the Newcomers strand.

Destiny Ekaragha's Tight Jeans, playing in the Newcomers strand.

Guest Programmes and Events

Aside from these main programmes there are also a selection of free screenings arranged by some of the most prominent players in the short film scene, including Dazzle, Renderyard, Propeller TV and, yup you guessed it, BBC Film Network. Our screening will consist all five BBC Comedy Shorts and it's a great chance to catch these on the big screen for free.

Notable events include Soho Film Lab seminars, BAFTA Short Filmmakers Market, Screen Agencies' presentations, plus numerous discussions on film funding, development and distribution. In short, there are some invaluable events for budding filmmakers, especially for those who want to know more about the machinations of the UK film industry.

Finally, there's also the very popular Straight 8 screening, which will showcase the result of the annual competition where films are shot in Super-8, without editing, and handed over undeveloped to be screened. This means that directors and contributors are seeing their own work for the first time along with the audience. Some surprisingly great shorts have come out of this scheme in recent years, incuding Jacqueline Wright's Sticks & Balls.

All in all, there's a fantastic spread of films and events going on over the ten days and we highly recommend a visit to London for anyone contemplating it, even for those not based in the region.

Rushes Soho Shorts Festival 2009 runs from 22nd - 31st July at various locations across London's West End.

Full details are available on the Rushes website

James Rocarols | Published 20 July 2009

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