ATVA 2015 Reviews

Kieran Daly reviews the films being shown on Saturday at the AirTV Awards Screening.

Daniel – Iris Ionita

The first of the films I watched of the ATVA’s has me completely mesmerized. Without going into too much detail, Daniel is a foreign film that revolves around Daniel telling the story of three separate times that he tried to fall in love with others, with some of the relationships being what could only be described as slightly unconventional. The film is absolutely stunning; the contrast in colour between the flashback scenes and the black and white scenes of Daniel really stands out, along with the beautiful filming locations. The dialogue in the film is also a work of art, with each word that Daniel states immersing the viewer into the story of the film and the emotions of the protagonist.


The Vivid Colouring of the Mind – Marijne Nieuwerf

I wasn’t quite sure what to think of this film, I watched it several times in order to try and grasp the overall point of the story, but failed to do so. The cast that was assembled for it was really interesting at the same time, but they were never really given anything to test them. I will say that I think Calum Moore’s voice over throughout the film was a nice touch; it just failed to explain the story. The film was well shot, I think with a little more time and work it could have been a lot better, but it was still a really nice edition to the line up of ATVA films this year.


Mark – Hannah Chandler

Mark was a film I really enjoyed, it’s not amazing, but I found a love for it in it’s attempt to showcase witty humor in a comedy biopic of a day in the life of Mark Cruickshank as he struggles to finish an essay before the due date, a thing that all students can relate to. There were some scenes that I thought could have been filmed better and some scenes didn’t flow as well as they maybe should, but it’s still a really cool and interesting film. My favourite part of the film had to be the soundtrack, there’s a lot of really cool music throughout the film and it doesn’t go unnoticed, I watched the film a few times just to see how well the music flowed with the narrative.


Bulgar – Adam Sinclair

Bulgar is a film I had heard rumors of for quiet some time and I was very excited for it, and it doesn’t disappoint. Filmed as a comedy documentary (a mockumentary), the story follows Bulgar Shortrobe, a wizard (played amazingly by Freddie Leighton), as he attempts to make a potion that will keep him alive. The film is extremely humorous and as a fan of shows like Parks & Recreation and The Office, I found it really funny, the awkward panning shots and zooms add to the overall humor of the story. The film adds diversity to the ATVA’s line up and many are sure to love it.


Alive Inside – Sean McLaughlin

Alive inside follows two girls during the zombie apocalypse, each of them have their separate stories, but in all honesty I didn’t find them that interesting, mainly because it felt like they were slightly shoehorned into the film at very strange moments. What I will praise about this film is it’s special effects and make up, I felt like I was watching the Walking Dead with the zombie design and the attention to detail on gun violence. The film is gritty and has some emotional moments, especially in the later half of the film. I would definitely watch it again.


3 Trailers – Andrew Pope & Beth Johnston

Diversity in films is something I have mentioned in a few of the reviews so far and this film is another one that gives the ATVA’s diversity this year. 3 Trailers is literally what the title states, three trailers. The first being a sort of supernatural monster hunting film, the second a murder story and the third a Godzilla-esq monster film. The film is an interesting idea, and most of it works well, I was really impressed by the first and last film, but the second was a bit lost on me, possibly because it was maybe too similar to the first one shown in some aspects. The film does succeed in what a trailer should do though; I actually wanted to see all the films as full fledged productions. The production design was brilliant as well, it was a gamble of an idea for an ATVA but I think it pays off in the end, I had originally intended to score lower but after multiple views the film really entertains you and after every view you notice a genius new thing somewhere in the frame.


Mercenary – Alan ‘Legs’ Thurston

I will start of the review for this film with congratulations to the crew of this film, you succeeded in making Stirling look like Russia and managed to create a Russian prison that is super convincing. Mercenary is an interesting tale that I don’t want to actually describe for you in the review, as I’m afraid that it will give away too much, but I will say that the story is brilliant and the cast assembled work extremely well together. The action sequences to the film are also really intriguing and I was invested in the story all the way until the end.


No Laughing Matter – Jonathan Wilson

To sum it up quickly without giving away too much of the plot, No Laughing Matter is a dark cop drama that follows a detective as he chases down a serial killer. The film, shot in entirely black and white, is dark and gritty with small tinges of what I would describe as macabre humor. The cast is outstanding, Calum Swan’s performance as the lead role and the dialogue in the script are probably the strongest parts of the film, followed by a very authentic production design and costuming. The only gripe I really had with the film was some of the pacing, it started off okay, but towards the end some of the plot felt like it was a bit rushed, this could be due to trying to keep the overall run time down. Overall the film is really quite interesting and it’s another film that stands out amongst the crowd of incredible films that this years filmmakers have brought forward.


Warlock – Conor Kane

Warlock is a film that fans of dark shows like Supernatural may like, it does a good job of establishing a mythos for the world it is set in and has an interesting enough plot idea. Unfortunately some of the film was not executed as well as it could have been, some of the pacing feels rough and the dialogue sounds a bit cheesy at some points, along with these issues some of the camera shots seem to be slightly off focus, I don’t know if this was intended or not but it is something that hurts the film at some points. Warlock handles some of it’s costuming and make up really well though, the blood and gore in the film looks really well done and the costumes are well done from the nurse outfits at the start to the way the protagonist is dressed, another thing is that the marks that are painted in the demon towards the end of the film look really cool, especially amid the stand off. All in all I think Warlock was a good attempt at trying to create a tale of the supernatural but it could have done with maybe a wee bit more work


Unearthly Creatures – Elizabeth Clutterbuck

Another film with Calum Swan at the centre of it, Unearthly Creatures follows one man’s decent into madness as he encounters the very mythical creatures that he lectures about. To put it short and sweet, I really enjoyed this film, I didn’t know what it was before watching it and was thoroughly impressed with most of it. The cast was brilliant, Swan shines out in yet another ATVA’s film as the lead role, while the voice over cast that give life to the “Unearthly Creatures” are also superb, I also really liked the John Izod cameo, for anyone that’s attended his lectures, was a nice touch and added some age diversity to the film. The framing of the film looked gorgeous, especially the scenes of Swan’s character being trapped and the one’s of him at the coffee shop, with little signs in the background really making the scene pop out.


Dormancy – Daniel Archibald

I have thoroughly enjoyed all of the ATVA films, but that being said none made me feel quiet as emotional or as invested as this film. Dormancy follows an expecting mother who takes advantage of a new product that acts as a temporary modern day lobotomy; it allows a second brain to take over the body while the person inside rests. The film is beautifully shot, each of the locations are dynamic and real, and the cast do an outstanding job of portraying emotions. The very idea at the centre of the plot had me thinking about what it is to be human, and in my opinion, a film that can make you think about such deep and profound topics like that are some of the best. I actually was fighting the urge to let a few tears trickle down my face at one moment in the story, I imagine at the ATVA’s screening there may be a few others that do the same. This film is a masterpiece and stands strong in this line up; I can see it taking a few awards this weekend.


Caged – Michael Gardner

Caged is horror-thriller that’s plot revolves around a girl, Nicola (Tessa Richards), being trapped in a cage as her friends are hunted down by two violent and crazed hillbillies. The film does an excellent job at fitting in to the horror genre and is actually terrifying at some moments; this is largely due to the performance of Richards who emulates the fear well, and Adam Sinclair and Max Muirhead’s performances as the hillbillies. Sinclair and Muirhead’s characters were actually terrifying in their own right without the setting, but their dialogue made them even better. Another brilliant thing about the film is it’s make up and gore, the blood looks really convincing, especially when dripping off a knife, there was also a corpse (played by Elsa Froeslin) that was super convincing. My only gripe with the film is it’s ending, viewers will either love it or hate, in my personal opinion I thought it was a nice touch but left me feeling slightly unsatisfied with where the story left off.


Moment – Joel Rock

This film has to be one of the hardest on the list to review, mainly because it is something that each and every person that views it will interpret differently. I personally thought that this film was beautiful, from the scenic shots to the music. It’s honestly such a hard film to describe; I’d say it is very minimalist compared to the other films, the expression “less is more” fits in extremely well with this film.


Stereotypes – Cory Thomas

Stereotypes is about exactly what you’d think it is from the title, the film holds a strong message about why one should not judge another based on how they look, which in theory is a good premise for a film, but at some moments it doesn’t fully pay off. At times the film feels more like a PSA than a narrative short film, maybe with more characters the film would have seemed more narrative driven. Stereotypes is filmed quiet well, several cuts and shots in the film look really well done and there is one scene in particular close to end that has a hint of lens flare which looks really cool. The film also has an interesting cast assembled around it, with each character playing a certain role, but I will say that while the character of James is intimidating physically, his dialogue doesn’t come off as strong.


The Nasty Ones – Elsa Froeslin

As a member of Air3 it’s a given that I like music, and I love it when music, video and a compelling narrative can fit together really well, The Nasty Ones does this. The film is compelling and will have you invested from the very start, it’s a story about love with an extremely dark and emotional twist. Gemma Miller does an outstanding job of portraying the emotion of the lead character, Blue, and all of her emotional complications revolving around a party the night before. I think the film is really well done and every scene is convincing and filled with emotion, I especially loved the party scene, mainly because it looked so real and convincing. As previously stated the music was also chosen really well, and each song fit in perfectly with what was happening on screen.


The AirTv awards are this Saturday, starting at 2pm in the Macrobert Main House, be sure to get your tickets in the atrium or online for only £7 or the ticket and DVD bundle for only £10.

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