Now entering it’s second year, the Melbourne International Student Film Festival is an opportunity for film students across the globe to promote their wares. It is one of the largest student film festivals in Australia and EBFS caught the evening session on 24th March to immerse ourselves in potential future talent. Here’s a rundown of what we saw.
Envy the Dead – Dir: Isa Swain, New York Film Academy
Directed by Isa Swain, a lone man tries to survive in an unnamed Arab city during a zombie epidemic. What sounds like schlocky entertainment is a well thought out tense drama. When our unnamed succumbs to a zombie bite halfway through, the film’s tone changes from one of survival to acceptance as he begins a pilgrim to a mosque to make one last prayer. Director Isa Swain clearly loves his movies. If it’s not the Goblin tinged soundtrack, it’s the way he crafts whole scenes that nod towards other potential influences. A zombie in a blood soaked burqa leaves trail reminiscent of Patrick Bateman trying to carry a corpse in his sleeping bag. Later on a young man being attacked in a subway tunnel evokes the same uneasiness of Monica Bellucci’s rape in Irréversible. Swain’s film is dark and closeted and can easily hold itself up against the best of Romero.
Departure – Dir: Ryan S. Camarda, University of Binghamton
One of the more emotional offerings, Departure uses a mixture of animation and live action to tell the story of a man trying to stop his ex-girlfriend from being involved. Whilst short, it left a genuine lump in our throat.
Stigma – Dir: Janusz Madej, Los Angeles Film School
This was the beefiest film of the entire festival weighing in at 29 minutes. Whilst it wears it wears it technological prowess on its sleeve, there’s just too much going on in this tale of a fake psychic receiving visions from Heaven. At its worse it feels like Tommy Wiseau’s The Room. Much of this was down to clunky dialogue, (‘Did you do this to yourself?’ ‘Are you suggesting I did this to myself?’) and uneven characterization.
Secure Your Load – Dir: Adam Polly, Warlayirti Artists
Coming in at only 1 min, this light frothy piece caused the biggest reaction of the night. A simple premise with a good pay off, this clash of modern and traditional Australia was a joy.
The Curse of Grong Grong – Dir: Rob Wright, MAPS
The Audience’s Choice winner of the night. EBFS can do it no better justice than to actually show it to you in full.
Needles – Dir: Alexei Mizin, VCA
This was a confusing piece of work set in Russia. Whilst stylistic, the coldness of the story (a young boy discovers his fellow patients are under threat from a tyrannical doctor) leaves you on the outside looking in for too long.
Lovesick – Dir: Nathan Joe, New Zealand Broadcasting School
In what appears to be heavily influenced by David Cronenberg and 1993’s Body Melt, a woman becomes addicted to her Lovecraftian vibrator. Blood and semen fly everywhere as the demonic dildo takes its hold over her. This is the Marmite of short films. We liked it but we sure as hell couldn’t eat afterwards. Somewhat let down by a lackluster male lead whose intonation for happiness and sheer horror are exactly the same.
#137 – Dir: Frances Elliot, Curtin University
The festival ended on a somber note with this tale of a young woman experiencing possible hallucinations after being unplugged from 18 months in a virtual world. At 14 minutes, this actually suffered from being too short. We wanted to know more about the characters and there was too much in the way of mystery surrounding, well, everything.