Stepping out of Shoreditch High Street Station is like walking onto a cloud of comfortable placid beauty. This collection of artisanal artists walk with an ethereal purpose; the men’s shoulders burly through their buttoned up shirts, the women flow with silk aplomb. And so as I stand in my coordinated Primark steals, I’m a little bewildered but I say, “no Georgia, you are a blogger, you are by definition a creative asswipe” and so I begin to feel more comfortable. My aplomb is a little more nylon than silk but it’ll do.
Café 1001 is the hipsters’ answer to Mecca. It’s lounging cushions, its tatty-chic leather sofas and its “I’m free and I like it” vibe is the perfect place for the showing of seven short films; the event called Nature of the Beast, Tales of Violence from ShortsOnTap. I should’ve known it was going to be violent, it was literally in front of my face, but as I sat with an overpriced but oh-so-worth-it pear cider I was unutterably shocked at these hard hitting shorts.
Sara Jewell’s “An Intimacy” was a display of innate and beautiful craftsmanship. She flips between shots of a man living a luxurious and expensive life, buying leather shoes, enjoying a coffee, whilst a younger more troubled woman lowers herself into a bath and cuts her porcelain skin. The music is gentle throughout these changing shots; it is composed and irenic, giving a sense of exactitude and normality to the troublesome images on screen. Even the linking of the shots feels seamless as we see the blood from the bath turn into the man’s rich cup of coffee on a table. It’s beautiful and therefore relatable, juxtaposing a moral response and an emotional one. The father comes home, takes off his tailored suit and shirt and bends down to his daughter in a bath of blood. She simply says, “hold me”, it is tentative, it suggests a loving father-daughter bond. Then he rests his hand on her head and pushes her under the water, drowning her. She doesn’t flinch or try to catch a breath. Psychologists often talk of self-harm as a cry for help; this young woman verbalised that cry in saying “hold me” and her father took a different approach, he gave her what she wanted, but it doesn’t make it less shocking. As one of the final shots is one where the father gives his expensive new leather shoes to a tramp, the film ends with an immense moral ambiguity. Does he value life over materialistic gratification now his daughter has died? Is he about to kill himself as he is standing on what looks like a bridge? And if he is going to kill himself, does that suggest he murdered his daughter rather than saved her from herself? Was the drowning of his daughter a case of loving too much, or too little? The way in which Jewell creates these two characters’ parallel yet detached existence may suggest that the bond we saw over the bath was one manifested purely due to extreme circumstances, a case of base need to love and be loved at that moment. The film was original, convincingly acted and innovatively shot. Most importantly, it made the audience think, paramount I believe, in the success of a short film.
Although the film “Illegal” directed by Raphael Baker had the resplendent beauty similar to the cinematography of those such as Newton Thomas Sigel, I felt the acting of the male lead was a little disappointing; he looked uncomfortable. The female lead however compensated completely with her acting, she was perfectly naturalistic, relatable and confident. The atmosphere of the piece was brilliant, the club scene wasn’t cheesy or gawky; the quick change of focus from shot to shot emulated the hazy blur of lights and legs we have all experienced at a club. Whilst uncomfortable to watch, the slow motion rape scene in the back of the car, narrated by the quivering voice of the newly pregnant woman six weeks after the incident, was effective in getting this alarming moral point across; don’t get into cabs that haven’t been pre-booked. Its message is relevant and I’m sure very painful and is eloquently put across. The film ends with a repetition of the first shot, a different woman getting into that same cab. The cyclical nature of the film suggests the problem is still prevalent; which it is. It wasn’t as lyrical as “An Intimacy” but the sheer brutality of the piece made it eminently watchable in a different way.
The evening was an emotional roller coaster; from an insecure entrance into the land of kimonos and done-up top buttons, to being witness to two of the most haunting pieces of cinema I have ever seen, to standing in the toilet with an Irish lady turning to me and saying “they’ve run out of toilet paper, I’ve just wiped my muff with a very coarse receipt”. I didn’t know receipts had different levels of friction, perhaps she knows more than I do.
The next ShortsOnTap event is being held at Juno in Shoreditch on 10th July at 8pm. Go and have a butchers if you fancy enjoying some gorgeous short films and being left with a feeling of desolate wonder.