GDFS: Shorts with Citizen M

Glasgow’s Graphic Design Festival returns to the Lighthouse this year with a line-up jam-packed with exhibitions and hands on workshops. Nestled within the extensive programme though is SHORTS, a carefully curated evening of short films that defy any real set genre. As a result we’re let with 15 delightful vignettes spanning across animation, horror, comedy and good old-fashioned heartbreak. Usually I would say one of the true strengths in short film programmes is that if you don’t like one, there will be another sure to enchant along in a moment; but with such a strong selection this year there is something to take away from this utterly brilliant collection of mini masterpieces.

Among the programme was the tensely paced and utterly engaging Dawn of The Deaf. As the name suggests it’s a tongue in cheek pastiche of zombie films. With very little spoken dialogue it is one of the most captivating short pieces of cinema I’ve seen. Beautifully shot and utterly moreish, the premise (a pulse kills and reanimates all of the hearing population of Earth) is something I would gladly see realised in feature length.  Life In Patterns will find fans among the ASMR community – providing the most soothing eye and audio candy that just creates an utterly pleasing sensation while watching, whilst Closed Visit – a short animation  based on the true accounts of single fathers in the UK – is an acute and tender exploration in loneliness and isolation and I challenge you not to cry when watching. 
Taking the animation cake for me at least though was the unbelievably gorgeous and deliciously dark Second to None.  This stop-animation is often quiet and treads the line of off-beat whimsy and pitch black humour. Making generous use of more than a few Rube Goldberg machines, Second to None is completely charming and just incredible to look at. The lighting is brilliant, the characters memorable and I’d be hard pushed to find a flaw in this wonderful little short. 
With such an incredible bill of short films, identifying something that truly standout is pretty much like trying to select the cutest puppy in a litter. But if gun-to-my head have to choose my favourite, Jim Archer’s wickedly funny Brian & Charles got my (and the audience) vote for the evening. Utterly ridiculous and charming, this off beat and often tender story of one man and his robot relishes in the ridiculous and is without a shadow of a doubt a must see. This deserves the 12 minutes of your time, but once it finishes, you’ll find yourself wondering where the time went. 
I’ve only truly grazed the surface of this incredibly rich selection of films. From contemporary dance piece Maze that combines the work of Scottish Ballet and Boston electro to the deeply effecting Irregulars, SHORTS was full to the brim with a diverse range of films that – and I can’t stress enough – demand and deserve your attention. Luckily, many of the films within the programme are available online – though for now I can’t wait till next year for the return of SHORTS to gorge on the organisers cherry-picked treats. 

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