A Full Rundown of the Cannes Short Film Competition

I have a tremendous amount of respect for the short film as a form. Concisely but entertainingly rendering a thought or emotion in twenty minutes or less is a fine art. Common themes in the short film competition this year were parenthood and injustice.

Caroline dir. Logan George

A young girl is left in a hot car with her two siblings. Her mother has rushed in for an interview having failed to find an appropriate carer. Tensions rise as strangers begin to take an interest in the suffering children.

The claustrophobia of the car and the palpable sense of heat create a terrible sense of dread. We experience the story as the child, barely understanding the seriousness of the situation until it finally explodes. It’s a film about instinct and desperation.

Gabriel dir. Oren Gerner

A boarding school is out in the forest looking for a fellow student who has gone missing. After a failed drug deal, one of the teenagers wanders from the group and begins exploring the forest alone.

An atmospheric tale of detachment as our lead fails to communicate with others and seems to fade further and further from society as he wanders.

Judgement dir. Raymund Ribay Gutierrez

A mother of a four year old tries to pursue justice after a vicious beating from the child’s father. After the humiliating police procedure she finds that this will be a difficult decision for anyone to walk away from.

Films that cast light on systems that disadvantage or shame women who have experienced domestic violence or abuse are very important. This film is full of humanity and outrage even if it does take a slightly contrived genre turn at the end.

Duality dir. Various

A mother takes her child to meet his father for the first time. Along the way they make several, seemingly innocuous choices until the son is faced with the final choice of whether or not to meet the father. None of these decisions are revealed to us, only the consequences of them.

Duality achieves a great deal with very little dialogue. It’s a film about choice and about bonds between family members. Although there is an unspoken darkness that permeates the characters’ interactions, the surreal and playful atmosphere makes it a charming watch.

III dir. Marta Pakek

The only animated short of the festival, two strangers meet in an odd place and proceed to grope and tear at each other.

The grotesquery of the animation recalls Jan Svankmajer. There’s a graphic brutality to the affection they show each other. The superb sound design and textural focus of the animation make this a visceral experience of suffocating closeness.

Tariki (Umbra) dir. Saeed Jafarian

A late night search for her partner leads a young woman to a chance encounter with a strange and frightening man. He challenges her values and dares her to live freely.

Starting as an unnerving horror film that makes superb use of an abandoned modern city block, the film becomes an enigmatic character study in which it’s unclear just how much trouble our lead is in.

All These Creatures dir. Charles Williams

A young man believes the strange insects in his garden may be responsible for his father’s mental health issues. He also worries that they may do the same to him.

Certainly my favourite short film of the festival, this is a very affecting study of anxieties and stigma around mental health. Yared Scott plays the son, Tempest, and ably combines teenage angst with a great sorrow. His narration is insightful and poignant. A very difficult and important subject, handled with great sensitivity and creative energy.

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