Staff Review/ Exposures 2012 Competition Screening: Programme 1

Cornerhouse Digital Reporter Jake Sturgess takes a look at a handful of films on offer in the first hotly anticipated competition screening of exposures…

The first instalment of competition screenings at this year’s festival features seven very diverse short films from students across the UK. There’s entertaining and thought provoking submissions aplenty, whether it’s scripted comedy, conceptual cinematography, bright animation or coarse documentary. No doubt there’s something for everyone amongst the selection.

The University of Plymouth’s Danny Cooke, the director of the enigmatic short Evolution, offers up a film which packs a mighty visual punch. Its explicit attention to the aesthetics of the unstable nature of ice bring to mind the issue of global warming but on a refreshingly real and tangible level. There is no sense of the mathematical equations or chemical elements that make up the reaction happening in front of you, instead you are given the sharp, clean and exact representation of what is happening on a far grander scale to the polar ice caps. Fittingly, the image which comes to life, gently moving and warping throughout the film but is gone again before you know it, sinking into black in a few frames. Let’s hope the icecaps last a little longer than this film, at least.

The fourth film of the programme is the chilling and claustrophobic Jittertree from director Tom Bailey. It’s been doing the rounds of film festivals for about a year and has finally arrived in Manchester from Arts University College Bournemouth. Set in a fetid room the figure of Ford (Tom Chick) struggles as some uncanny seed grows inside him. The viewer witnesses a gritty and frighteningly intimate portrayal of a boy in isolation, silently watching his body knit visceral connections to a foreign body slowly taking over. The viewer is left to decide whether its victory is a macabre or liberating end for the tortured character.

The programme ends with an outstanding animation from director Ania Hazel Leszczynska from the Edinburgh College of Art. This short was clearly crafted with a huge amount of love and attention to fully submerse the viewer into a fascinating dream world filled with moths, foliage and classical music. The charming story of Etude features a smoking cat watching a porcine predator watching a delicate musician at work. Leszczynska succeeds in building a world that the viewer can instantly sink in to and understand. One that despite its many oddities and dangers feels homely and familiar.

Featuring a crop of films that have already been nominated for exposures awards the opening programme of competition screenings is sure to give every ilk of film fan something to think about, and sets a high standard for what’s to follow over the three day festival.

Competition Screening: Programme 1 screens at 13:30 on Tue 21 Feb. Book your tickets here.