Read on for an overview of the Short Film Competition programmes and the special shorts programme.
This year our BAFTA-qualifying short film competition programme explores subjects such as family relationships, personal responses to the Black Lives Matter protests, and how we inhabit our own bodies. Spanning all genres, these films (half of which are UK premieres) are boundary-pushing, and represent the very best in contemporary filmmaking.
22-24 May This heartwarming and sometimes bittersweet programme gathers together childhood memories, heartfelt conversations and messages to the next generation. Inspired by (and sometimes featuring) the filmmakers' relatives, this selection of animation and live-action films includes a proud dad and his muscular son (Strong Son), the truth about young mothers (Postpartum - see trailer above), and a headstrong, big-mouthed Korean divorcee (Tiger and Ox).
23-25 May This experimental programme takes us to uncharted territory, inviting us to look at familiar spaces in new ways. The concrete walls of a building site are the starting point for an intense and hypnotic experience in GRID, while Blue dives underwater for a powerful silent reflection on the afterlife of sexual violence. These films are boundary-pushing, yet playful – see Flex, our second bodybuilder of the competition (aka “the lovechild of Zeus and Thor”), or AIVA, an AI female artist who loves to paint male nudes. If you're feeling adventurous, this ride is for you.
24-26 May What would a Flatpack competition be without its traditional feast of internationally acclaimed animation? The films in this programme vary in tone and style but have a strong personality in common. Featuring gripping animated documentary Just a Guy about a serial killer's fanclub, as well as lighter subjects like the domestic love stories Washing Machine and powerwash (I love you) - both particularly relatable after months of lockdown...
25-27 May This programme contains just four films, yet each of them pack in an incredible amount of humanity and complexity. At the International Butler Academy, candidates learn to serve the “elite” with rituals from another time (The Ballet of Service). Not far from there, in Germany, a social worker and a conspiracy theorist watch Youtube videos in an unsettling film that completely blurs the boundary between fiction and reality (Adrenochrom). In the US, a young Black man struggles with his identity (Not Black Enough). And from all over the world, birds gather to discuss freedom of speech, in the most original Zoom conversation you'll attend this year (International Dawn Chorus Day).
Late Night Tales
26-28 May Dream or reality? These films choose not to decide, taking us on a mysterious journey into the darkness of night - where anything can happen. A young boy knocks on every door in a remote village (Have You Seen that Man?), two teenagers embark on a quest to find Mister Ping's exotic birds (the Berlinale revelation Easter Eggs), a girl finds herself stuck near Death Valley (Trona Pinnacles) and another starts talking to the stars (The End of Suffering (A Proposal) - trailer above).
21-31 May Although this particular shorts programme is available for the duration of the festival, you might find it is best enjoyed at a certain time of day (or, in this case, night). If you’re just back from the boozer and need a little late night cultural stimulation, or if the past year has messed with your sleeping patterns and you need something to occupy your sleepless nights, look no further, this is the shorts programme for you. These trippy animations will take you on a mind-melting journey through hallucinogenic patterns, kaleidoscopic colours, hypnotic collages and inventive soundtracks. Let yourself be carried away - offbeat dreams are guaranteed (we can’t actually guarantee this, but we think it’s more than likely.)
21-31 May Tired of face yoga and in search of a new home workout to relax those tense muscles? This comedy programme sets out to make you giggle for an hour straight. Beware though; the further in we get, the darker the humour becomes... We start gently with a friendship of a different kind (Mondeo) followed by an appointment with Doctor Will Ferrell, impeccable - as always - in the role of an overwhelmed shrink (DAVID). Next stop is a driving lesson with the hilarious Harriett Webb (The Gospel according to Gail), before we join an amateur improv group as they get to know each other through an (innocent?) game (Doughnut). Expect beaming smiles and a few raised eyebrows.
21-31 May Being an actor is not all glamour and red carpets… What happens behind the scenes, during castings and rehearsals? How do you get a part? And what do you do when you don't get it? These fiction films follow five characters as they go from small humiliations to big victories (or the other way around). There's Dasha who is tired of always being called to play sexy extras; Bella, a disabled actress who has to teach a film star how to use a wheelchair; or Malky who agrees to lighting tests in the hope of landing a game-changing role... A special programme that tackles serious issues with humour, and fights stereotypes with spirit and wit.