Cardiff Mini Film Festival: Twisted Tales

Running since 2012, the Cardiff Mini Film Festival screens a number of short films from around the world at a number of venues in Cardiff. I went along to both Twisted Tales screenings, focusing on the darker side of short films, the second of which involved a screening of horror classic The Wicker Man. Unfortunately, little information was given about the directors/actors involved in the shorts and some have been difficult to source online, but I’ve tried to source as many as possible. Clicking on the title of a film will take you to the IMDB page wherever one is available.

The first set of shorts were held in the Big Top in 10FtTall, which as you can see is a really fun venue for showing films in with the circus/disco ball theme. A total of eight films were shown in this session.

The first was Samantha – a neat, taut, two-hander featuring a tense conversation between a man and a woman about visions of lost loved ones. The second was Sick – again a two-hander featuring a relationship which seems tightly controlled and unhealthy with the man dictating the style of dress, meal and drink consumption of their nightly meal. This one unfolds in a slightly confusing way, but is stylish and interesting enough to forgive that. A Star To Steer Her By was probably my favourite of this session, featuring two people discussing the event which will eventually result in the end of the world. This was quite sweet, despite the subject matter and managed well on a clearly small budget. Lulu was impressive in terms of it’s music-video style striking visuals although I have to admit to being entirely lost when it came to the narrative. Still – a very ambitious project, if a little overlong. The Ghost had almost the opposite issue in terms that the story presented was interesting, if a little unclear and would have gained a great deal from having more time spent on it and the idea developed more. Quidnunc (you can see the trailer here) was a film which gave a great deal of time to developing the scenario and out of all the films shown seemed to have the best ability to be expanded into a feature. I Came From The Future was a little too short although as it seemed to serve as a piece about the ethics and confusion of time travel this is probably for the best. Lastly, I Can’t Hear You was again, very short but was well-made with a fitting punchline.

My favourite part of this session was definitely the discussion that host Sarah Bridgeman and tech Will encouraged in between films. As we were a fairly small audience it was really nice to hear what people thought in the immediate aftermath of films, whether that was positive or negative.

The second Twisted Tales event was taking place in the Cardiff Masonic Hall and the actual temple hall itself was pretty impressive, complete with an all-watching eye painted on the ceiling. The shorts in this session, I felt, were overall of a higher quality than the first session. The first, Corduroy was an excellent story of cookery, obsession and notoriety. Beautifully held together with a captivating performance by Nunzia Shiano, this film should definitely receive more attention.

The second film was also of a really high standard. Beautified has an ethereal quality but deals with an important message on beauty standards and striving for perfection among women taken to the extreme.

Whose Crime Is It Anyway is another film which focuses on an important subject: consent. When actress Stormy is attacked when filming a short film she tries to broach the subject with her costar and director. A short and punchy film with an important message by director Isabella Jacqueline. The following film New Bronx strayed further away from conventional horror material yet kept a tense atmosphere as it explored the tumultuous relationship between a number of teenagers in an area of Poland. The young cast in this were really excellent. The next film True Crime offered more in the way of dark comedy as a true crime podcast enthusiast finds himself in a position where his knowledge proves to be more of a hindrance than a help. This crime farce was supported by some excellent music. The penultimate film again strayed from horror but stayed on the odder side of film-making. The Cutting Room is a comedic piece featuring a porn director and a new editor shown to be taking their work and the meanings very seriously. Finally, The Chairman was a well-crafted and spooky tale about telepathy and corrupt experimentation which could easily be expanded into a solid feature.

Following the shorts it was time to keep our appointment with The Wicker Man after our host quickly cleared up that anyone expecting the Nicholas Cage version would soon be disappointed.

I have made no secret about my love for The Wicker Man but I had never had the opportunity to see it on a bigger screen with an audience so I was very excited to get to do that with the added bonus of watching in an appropriately ominous Masonic temple. The film to me, is perfect in terms of the gradual way in which it escalates from a missing persons case to a far darker story. The interplay between Edward Woodward’s devout Christian policeman and Christopher Lee’s pagan leader is electric, filled with small moments of comedy, but the ending remains deeply sinister and very upsetting.

While the Cardiff Mini Film Festival 2019 is now over, you can keep up to date with future events by going to their website. Their continued work in showing a variety of films in great venues around Cardiff is excellent and provides a great opportunity to see new films and classics in new ways,

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