Today: February 26, 2024

Screentest: The National Student Film Festival – BAFTA Nominated Short Film Screening with Q&A took place last week. Peter D Marsay went to go seek out new hidden talents.

Screentest: The National Student Film Festival – BAFTA Nominated Short Film Screening with Q&A took place last week. Peter D Marsay went to go seek out new hidden talents.

Screentest, the BAFTA sponsored National Student Film Festival began with a selection of BAFTA nominated short films. It was an evening filled with diverse work from some of the UK’s brightest young talents, from abstract mood pieces to chirpy, short and sweet pick me ups.

Event organiser Jenny Keys kicked things off by introducing the first two films; Rite, a gritty and heartfelt story of a man’s flawed attempts to win over his estranged son; and then the disturbing Until the River Runs Red, which won this years BAFTA for Best Short Film. It tells the disjointed tale of an abducted young girl who has been brought up to believe that she is the second coming of Christ.

Next up was the Q&A session, with Rite producer Ross McKenzie and Until the River Runs Red writer/director Paul Wright taking to the stage. They discussed in greater depth the meanings behind their films, as well as answering questions from the film students in the audience on topics such as how to get a film financed, and where to find inspiration. Importantly, it was revealed that many of the films on show are some of the very last to benefit from funds awarded by the now axed UK Film Council. The filmmakers were forthcoming in their answers, and even raised a laugh or two, running over time as the discussion went on to the subject of emerging technologies such as affordable high definition cameras, which are making it ever easier for new filmmakers to produce work and to find their unique cinematic voices. One of the last points that McKenzie and Wright made, was on how audiences for short films are few and far between, and that feature films, although more expensive and elaborate productions are arguably easier to get made for that reason.

With a round of applause they took their seats again, and the lights dimmed for the next set of shorts. Lin (main photo) soon lit up the screen, a thoughtful effort from writer/director Piers Thompson, following a troubled woman on a surreal journey of self discovery. The highlight of the night came early, with Samuel Abrahams’ inventive delight Connect, which shows a lonely young girl bringing an everyday ride on a depressing London bus magically to life, using nothing but her imagination. Karni Arieli and Saul Freed’s colourful and elegant contribution Turning drew proceedings to a close, depicting a young boy enjoying the very strangest of birthdays.

Unfortunately the BAFTA nominated animated short films had to be postponed thanks to the overrunning Q&A, but they will know doubt be lapped up appreciatively by the youthful audience at a later date. The festival is an opportunity for young filmmakers to network, and to draw inspiration from those who are a few rungs above them, on the narrow career ladder which every passionate filmmaker must brave. The chance to see the BAFTA nominated short films went down a treat, and being the UK’s only national student film festival, Screentest looks to be a well attended and very welcome crucible from which new talents can emerge.

Marcia Degia - Publisher

Marcia Degia, who has worked in the media industry for more than 20 years, is the Publishing Editor of KOL Social Magazine. See website:

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