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By Jamie Cross on

James reviews BIFF 2012: Day 2

Day two of the festival included short films, the Dodge Brothers busking, and an authentic Family Film Funday experience.

Day of two my #BIFFest adventure—that’s the festival hashtag for any of you social-media-savvy people. Day two saw me saw me appreciate shorts, become a family man and geek out!

Shine Short Film competition nominees

Now if any of you read my blog posts last year you will know how important the Shine Awards are to me. If you didn’t read my blog posts last year, WHY DIDN’T YOU?! I shall explain again: the Shine Awards was the first film festival strand I ever attended; it had a profound effect on me and challenged my notions of what film is.

This is what I love about short film: it’s unafraid to take risks, because short film rarely considers box office returns. Generally short film is dedicated to people perfecting their art—not as commodity, which many Hollywood films could be accused of. The BIFF Shine Short Films Competition is a great platform to showcase this individual art form.

I have two front-runners. The first is Kinderspiel, a sensitive and subtle portrayal of a teen and his son. My second is Theory of Color, a vibrant, beautifully shot film about conformity and individualism. Go along to the screening on Wednesday 25 April 2012 and make your own decision. The winners will be announced at the awards screening on Sunday 29 April 2012.

Family Film Funday: Musical Mayhem

Frankly, I wanted to go see Chuck Jones cartoons. I had grown up watching them and I wanted to see them on a big screen. Now, this was a family screening, and I don’t really have a family of my own—well, I don’t have a wife or kids; I could have taken my parents, but we might have looked a little out of place. So I decided to gather a fake family (don’t worry, I know them). That way, I could find out how Chuck Jones animations compare with the likes of Ben 10 through the eyes of a bona fide youth. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce them…

We have my fake wife (Gemma), my fake eldest child (Ted), and my fake youngest child (James). I’m the one with the pipe and the look of authority and fatherliness.

So, we went to see Musical Mayhem, a collection of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartons from the 1950s. This compilation was made up of animations using the music that Warner Brothers had in their library, and there wasn’t a single SpongeBob SquarePants episode in sight.

The screening was so packed I had to sit with James by myself. Throughout the screening he was deadly silent, munching away at his popcorn. Did he like it? Was he terrified into silence by a cross-dressing Bugs Bunny? Was he perplexed by Wile E. Coyote’s incessant buying of faulty ACME products?

After the film we regrouped for some eagerly anticipated feedback. Here are some of the comments (which I have paraphrased, for the purpose of this review):

Me: How was it?
James: Good
Ted: Exciting
James: My favourite was the Bugs Bunny. The last one [What’s Opera Doc?]
Gemma: Was it better than SpongeBob SquarePants?
James: No
Me: Ted, what was your favourite one?
Ted: Tom and Jerry
Me: And what’s your favourite cartoon?
Ted: SpongeBob
Me: So that wasn’t as good as SpongeBob?
Ted: They are kind of drawing. [As in, equally matched. I have been assured there is no higher praise than this.]
Me: Would you recommend them to other kids?
Ted: Yes
Me: Would you go see them again?
Ted and James: Yes!
Gemma: Was it nice being in there with other little children?
Ted and James: Yeah.

So Chuck Jones can still compete with the likes of SpongeBob SquarePants 60 years on—I wonder if SpongeBob will do as well?

I would like to thank Gemma, Ted and James for their help. If you ever need a fake family (especially to take to Disneyland), I highly recommend them.

The Dodge Brothers Busk

One of the great things about the festival is stumbling across special events that have been organised to compliment the screenings.

The Dodge Brothers were busking in the museum foyer, much to my (and everyone else’s) delight. It could be the first time any museum had a bit of skiffle and bogey in their foyer. I have to admit I did geek out a bit and get Mark Kermode and Aly Hirji to sign my festival catalogue.

The busk preceded their live accompaniment of Beggars of Life with Neil Brand, after which, Dodge Brother and film critic extraordinaire Mark Kermode interviewed special guest Ray Winstone. The Dodge Brothers were definitely among the hardest working guests at the festival.

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