Now in its seventh year, Derby's bi-monthly showcase for short films offered up one of its finest evenings to date.
Every couple of months, Quad plays host to a short film night in Cinema 2. Compere Carl Bryan has a good repartee with the crowd that allows co-organiser Sam Jordan time to switch between the varying formats that the night's submissions are received in. The two of them took over the running of the night shortly after it moved to Quad from its previous home - and origin of its apparent misnomer - Five Lamps pub. As a semi-regular attendee since it began, I believe it is currently stronger than ever, as evidenced by the night's screenings.
This month's opening short, Close to Me by Sam Mason Bell, uses a static shot of a man in his darkened bedroom, as he struggles to get over a former lover. Flashbacks to happier times compound the misery. The mood changes dramatically in the second film from Waking Dream Studios. They deliver a comedic send-up of horror classic, The Exorcist - the third in a series of supernatural movie spoofs.
Sascha Zimmerman's Pro Kopf is an undoubted highlight of a strong evening. A German businessman rings home to discover his wife apparently having an affair. He tries to exact revenge upon her from afar, bartering with a maid to carry out said punishment. Palpable tension is created despite the movie being shot entirely in the hotel room. I shall opt not to ruin the ending.
Violet Rain makes impressive and inventive use of CGI on a budget. The Commando comics-inspired graphics are woven into the footage with few seams, as the eponymous spy heroine infiltrates Nazi Germany. Verude by George Maier is next up, and it's a film that yearns for your interpretation. The slightly detuned piano makes a fitting soundtrack for the theme that appears most strongly to me- one of imprisonment / torture and escape.
Sheffield-based SIC present Self, an examination of a portrait artist's psyche, as he tries to commit his personality to canvass in self-portrait. The music, by Derby post-rock band Costanza, maps perfectly onto the emotional arc of the painter as the film progresses. A Hero's Journey is next, a film that appears to tell the tried-and-trusted story of a kidnapped princess and her dashing saviour, with a wonderful fairytale feel. It is, in fact, concocted entirely in the mind of a bored commuter. I'm glad I'm sitting down for the next film, as Luke Kondor delivers some Terrible News about the apparent relationship difficulties of a distressed man. His girlfriend is not an animate object.
The Gift tells the tale of a young man who inherits a florist's when his mother passes away, despite little knowledge of the trade. A lucky charm appears one day in the shop in the form of a mystery plant. The similarities with Little Shop of Horrors end here. It becomes a story about the bond that continues to exist with his mother beyond her earthly life. The film is one of several that evening which made use of the crowdfunding websites that are proving such a useful tool to film-makers, as they try to increase their budget and expand the possibilities open to them.
There's usually a music video at each Five Lamps night, this month courtesy of David Meehan for the band Dead Time Philharmonic. The video for the Bad Lad shows the stark reality of domestic violence, with the bad lad eventually getting his comeuppance. The night draws to a close with yet another strong submission- Caught in the Headlights by Christopher Bevan. A taxi driver discovers that his wife has committed adultery and blames himself, in a phone call to her as the film begins. A night of terrible luck ensues, and this has a chastening effect on the self-pity and responsibility he had felt earlier in the night.
The £2 entrance fee is an absolute steal for a short film night that outshines similar events in many larger cities across the UK. Local independent film fans will not pay less for an evening so enjoyable. It is a credit to the organisers and the work they have put in that it's become such an impressive event, one which people all over the country are really starting to take notice of.