The Screentest premiere began with a screening of the Encounters Short Film Festival winners, introduced by Paul Appleby (BBC producer and Bristol grad). These films demonstrate the benefits of a substancial budget, often out of reach for many student filmmakers. One of the films, Circus (Ruben Broekhuis, Netherlands, 2009), contains a filmed base jump off a sky scraper.
The BAFTA nominated animated shorts followed, including this years winner Mother of Many (Emma Lazenby, UK, 2009), after which there was an open Q&A with the BAFTA winning director. Her answers were candid, and her advise very personal for young filmmakers. Mother of Many is an animated short that follows a midwife as she assists several women through labour, resulting in the birth of a single baby. The film was inspired by her own mother, a midwife, upon her retirement in 2008. She said she could not remember having been so passionate about a project, and that you need that force to make a good film, and you should wait for it.
Lazenby’s visual style is clean and bold. She jokingly referred to her inspiration as the children’s books she’s been claiming on taxes. The sound recordings were taken from actual births. The director spent, as only seemed appropriate, 9 months recording women in labour and fetal heart monitors before completing this film, which she calls “her baby.” Her experiences while making the film have inspired her to become a birthing partner (a type of midwife). Though, to the delight of many, she promises to continue making films.
Tomorrow the screening of films submitted to Screentest begins. They are not, as some of us were led to believe, 9 full length features, but 9 groupings of shorts. Each screening is named after a planet, in keeping with the festival’s galactic campaign theme. Tomorrow I will see four screenings: Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars.
– Taylor Lockhart-Lang