FSFF 2021 Shorts Line Up
The Fighting Spirit Film Festival is back for its fifth year of action packed cinema. With the shorts programme hitting Romford Sunday the 27th of June, FSFF has certainly delivered at bringing a mesmerising mix of martial arts appreciation and captivating cinema from several fantastic filmmakers.
Here is a sneak peak of some of the films the festival has to offer:
Simon Pearce throws us into the line of fire through the eyes of a young police officer overcome with the outbreak of a violent riot. With divide, mistrust and panic brewing within the criminal network - the atmosphere of paranoia travels to officer Alex Trent, when cooperation with one ethically cryptic member could mean life or death.
Officer Down achieves the perfect balance between style and substance, restoring the age-old grittiness of British crime drama with a philosophical flair and exploratory canvas. Unlike traditional cinematic representations of law and order, Pearce succeeds in creating a more interpretative political discussion, rather than crafting a linear tale of good and evil.
With manic chase sequences, brutally stylised martial arts combat, and a modern re-telling of discordianism, cause and effect, and moral ambiguity - Officer Down is certainly a flick worth experiencing.
Source: Simon Pearce
The Fat Lady Sings
Tales of revenge, high stakes, and running out of chips sparks growing unrest at a less than civil card game. But there may be much more than money on the line when an urban legend comes to life at the table.
Ben Crabb and Jackson Harrison channel the art of parallel narrative functions meandering through intensity and chaos in a way that profoundly celebrates grindhouse style cinema. It is often difficult to balance threat and violence while maintaining a stable story arc, but The Fat Lady Sings is a reminder of the fulfilment that can be experienced from a delicate and well written fusion of those genres.
The Fat Lady Sings does extremely well to pay tribute to the predecessors of the grindhouse genre while maintaining a stark authorship. Crabb and Jackson have shown admirable respect to the film archetypes they have drawn influence from.
Source: Ben Crabb and Jack Harrison
No Way Out
A simple tale of heroes, villains and retribution. No Way Out is an action thrills fiesta, with an impressive amount of stunt work compressed into a short time span.
Max Huang establishes himself as a triple threat in cinema - starring in, directing and writing this adrenaline filled gem. Very much dedicated to the martial arts side of things, No Way Out is less interested in going into depth with its plot, and puts predominant focus on the stunt work and choreography. With tongue-in-cheek humour about “Kung-fu” style cinema, and stereotypical characterisation, it is clear that it’s not a film to be taken too seriously, and more so one to pay tribute to the sport, and live up to the entertainment side of cinema.
No Way Out is a highly enjoyable piece of cinema, with its artistry dedicated to martial arts in motion pictures. A film that truly does the sub-genre commendable justice.
Source: Max Huang
Les Aventures de Tranh et Nowak
Godefroy Ryckewaert’s Les Aventures de Tranh et Nowak resounds the perfect blend of comedy and action. Resonating with the buddy cop style formula, Ryckewaert’s short follows the effective and light hearted tone of late twentieth century movies like Rush Hour, Lethal Weapon and Bad Boys.
The plot is relatively straight forward: two special agents infiltrate the neo-nazi underworld, and as expected things do not go as planned. The fun, flamboyance and finesse comes through in the characterisation - through the inherent clash of two traditional character tropes: the reserved logistician and the instinctual free spirit. But unlike other examples of this set-up, Ryckewaert embraces the art of subtlety, slowly revealing the different faces of the characters as the conflict escalates.
Les Aventures de Tranh et Nowak is a superb action-comedy that is a nostalgic symphony of the inventive, and thrilling aspects of martial arts cinema that many of us have grown up enjoying.
Source: Godefroy Ryckewaert
Sci-fi, martial arts, biblical undercurrents? Seems difficult to imagine that a 6 minute short could juggle that amount of thematic chaos in such a limited script. But, Nicholas Wenger does exactly that, proving the creative flexibility that short films can offer. The Kid is a prime example of looking past the templates of genre and exploring the spaces in between.
A woman runs through the streets with a young boy, hiding down an alleyway from a gang of thugs intent on finding him. When they inevitably catch up, the woman must fight against them to protect the boy.
Wenger does well to control the speed of the narrative within the short time span. The plot follows the premise in a linear fashion right up until the end when the enigmatic elements of the film dominate the central focus. The fight scenes are extremely well choreographed, and although the special effects seem jarring to begin with, they help to echo and channel the mind-bending conclusion that follows. The Matrix-like frames that fall into the choreography have a foreboding quality to them, easing the spectator into the genre shift that awaits at the climax.
The Kid is a highly innovative short film that gives the genres around the edges a voice of their own. Wenger is certainly a filmmaker to watch out for in the coming years.
Source: Nicholas Wenger
10 Minutes For A Pound
Jadey Duffield and Linda Louise Duan’s short 10 Minutes For A Pound is a hysterically fun piece of martial arts cinema, drawing emphasis on the comedic tones at the heart of action cinema. What is extremely interesting about the film is the way it manages to showcase strong woman in cinema, while simultaneously celebrating femininity and womanhood.
Central protagonists Bailey and Grace seem to be having a rough week, and with a spilt coffee and a self-absorbed boyfriend on the phone, there is already plenty of fuel to the fire in the laundromat, and one more emotional spark is sure to start an explosion.
The stunt scenes are choreographed in a way that is perfectly in-tune with the lightness of the script. From thong-pings, towel slaps, to washing-machine doors being used to kick-ass (literally), there’s an old-school Jackie Chan cinema feel to the film.
Duffield and Duan craft a memorable short that will leave you hoping for a sequel with these kooky characters. And for a short of under 8 minutes in length in manages to unpack a great deal in terms of surface characterisation, and pays a compelling tribute to old martial arts classics.
‘Steph’s Words on Cinema’ is a newsletter which focuses on reviewing independent, experimental and art-house films. It is free so please do subscribe and share. I also write for Take One Cinema, Eye For Film and my twitter handle is @stephpbrown_