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Reed Short Film Awards

Thursday 23 April 2015, by Abla Kandalaft

The Reed Short Film Awards were hosted by writer, TV and radio presenter and all-round funnyman Danny Wallace, who was certainly on top form last night. Introducing the shortlisted films, Wallace took the opportunity to celebrate the short format and the "admirable struggles" of short film makers ("making a short film is like watching a Danny Dyer film: awful").

The first screening of the night was of last year’s winning entry, Rhys Edwards’ amusing rural romp A Good Bitch, followed by this year’s 11 shortlisted films. This year’s ’key-phrase’ was "The Question".

The variety of ideas, angles and cinematic approaches to the given theme reflected the diverse backgrounds of the participants. For many, this was the first time their film received some kind of official recognition. Horror buff Lee Matthews, who directed the visually impressive The Question (by Lee Matthews-it unsurprisingly shares a title with 3 other entries) has been making short films with some measure of success in America where he has sold anthologies to festivals, which, he says, is due to the fact that there is a bigger audience for horror in the US compared with the UK, where it is more niche. His "apocalyptic film" was his first short to be screened at a UK festival.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a number of the films addressed The Question by having a character pop ... the question. But not all managed to display the right balance of rhythm, humour and originality that make all the difference between a film and a moonpig.com advert.

The Grand Prix Winner, Andrew Lee Potts’s Photo Finish, initially an audiovisual wedding present for his sister and her then fiancé, who also star in it, makes the most of what the format can offer. Potts also clearly understands its limitations. The film is funny and energetic, with a focus on humorous dialogue and a punchline; the ultimate crowd-pleaser. I expected it to take home the People’s Choice Award. Unexpectedly but happily, this went to Chris Cronin’s Peter, a genuinely spooky little thriller, that achieves the rare feet of being effective both as a standalone short film and as a teaser for a potential feature.

James Reed, his wife Nicola, winner Andrew Lee Potts and Danny Wallace

Other prizes included a judges’ special recognition award (a first this year) for the witty, sharp and beautifully acted The Question, this time by Jamie Coe and Gabriel Steele, a refreshingly young duo who’d been collaborating and honing their skills for years.
Producer Carolyn Goodyear won the Judge’s Commendation Award for The Sesquipedalianist, directed by Ollie Wiggins, who we chatted to before the awards ceremony.

Finally, director Ben Mankin won Best Young Filmmaker for his touching Corner to Corner.
A final shout-out from Mydylarama to Louise Cousins. Her film What’s Wrong With Jimmy was disarmingly simple, unpretentious and laugh-out-loud funny thanks to a cracking central performance. Luckily, we managed to catch up with her before the ceremony:

To finish off, a few words on shorts by jury member and film director Paul Weiland:

You can watch the shortlisted films at http://www.reed.co.uk/film

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