Currently we’re in the middle of the We Are One Film Festival, a free ten-day online festival that’s running exclusively on YouTube. The festival is running till the 7th June (started on the 29th May) and currently has a load of features, shorts and Q&A’s for people to watch that is co-curated by over twenty film festivals (including BFI London Film Festival and Tribeca Film Festival as examples) and even if you miss the premiere screenings, the films will remain on the page duration the festival’s run for free in order to raise funds that will benefit COVID-19 relief funds. So I’ve spent time watching a few of the short films that’s available at the moment and put my reviews for them below.
DIRECTED BY: Comfort Arthur
In a poetic animation, Comfort Arthur recollects her personal journey with skin bleaching products and questions societal ideals of beauty.
Black Barbie is written and directed by Comfort Arthur, where she recollects her childhood and personal journey about excepting her beauty as a black woman. The animation is well done in showcasing the experiences of Arthur’s childhood struggles of self-esteem, and then embracing who she is, and highlights just how the standards of society can have an effect on children from a young age (especially minorities), such as what they perceive to be beautiful and how media, fashion and glamour industry play a part in that. But the films message of love who you are is a very important to those that are experiencing the same issues.
A well made animated short with a personal story that is important to listen to.
DIRECTED BY: Joanna Priestley
An animated tapestry of biomorphic forms elegantly dances through the life cycles of cells while hinting at the loss of botanical diversity.
Okay. The animated here is decently done, I figured it was looking at evolution as a whole in the way that it is presented, but when it came to typing this up and finding the shorts synopsis, I’m just as confused now as I was when the short finished. The music composed by Jamie Haggerty is decent. Maybe Joanna Priestley’s short animation is just too experimental for my tastes.
DIRECTED BY: Chris Dainty
This loving, handcrafted elegy to a friend lost to suicide reanimates the passionate and pained artwork she left behind.
Shannon Amen is written and directed by Chris Dainty, based on the words, music and art of Shannon Jamieson. Overwhelmed with anxiety and guilt of trying to reconcile her sexuality with her faith, the film is a mixture of archive footage and animation, as Shannon continues to feel the weight of the world on her shoulders and the pain of these complex issues that tormented her finally take their toll and Dainty uses this short to pay tribute to his friend, as well as come to terms over his own grief and confusion over losing Shannon. This documentary/animation hybrid really resonated with me well after the end credits, the issues that Shannon went through with her sexual identity, the memories that Dainty instills between animation and live-action settings, it’s a heartbreaking look at how faith really burdens us from who we are and while it’s sorrowful and packs a devastating punch, there’s sensitivity and compassion in how it is handled.
A short that will resonate with a lot of people struggling between their faith and sexuality, Shannon Amen has been the standout so far at We Are One Film Festival.