Bafta shorts 2020 review – cheeky romance and the power of skateboards | Baftas 2020

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The Bafta nominees up for best short film at this Sunday’s award ceremony – five live-action and three animation – make up another very enjoyable collection.

The scene-stealer is a film that I suspect is insufficiently solemn to win a prize, and it’s Maryam Mohajer’s animation Grandad Was a Romantic, narrated by a child telling the story of her grandad and the lovely way he fell in love with her grandma. It ends with a colossal cheeky twist that made me laugh out loud, yet without undermining the genuine sweetness and idealism of what had gone before.

In the live-action section, Hector Dockrill’s Goldfish is a powerful and affecting piece about knife crime. A young black man who was the victim of a stab wound to the chest gets a heart transplant and then receives a visit from a little girl whose older brother was the donor. In fact, donor and recipient families cannot make direct contact like this, but Dockrill is using justified poetic licence to represent the emotions involved.

Watch the trailer for Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (When You’re a Girl)

It is a very strange oddity of this year’s Bafta shorts show that two documentary pieces are on the same theme: girls in patriarchal Asian societies learning to skateboard. Sasha Rainbow’s Kamali shows a little Indian girl of that name showing a talent for this, encouraged by her mum. The Oscar-nominated Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (When You’re a Girl) from director Carol Dysinger is about the “Skateistan” educational project in Kabul that makes skateboarding a vital part of girls’ education. It’s a kind of freedom, like bicycling for young ladies of the Victorian era. Of those two, I prefer the openness and directness of Kamali – Dysinger’s film is maybe a little too super-slick.

Acting star Lena Headey makes her writing-directing debut with the short film, The Trap, a somewhat tortured narrative contrivance about a woman living a semi-feral existence in a woodland shack, supposedly fixing cars, whose life is turned upside down when a moody young man shows up. Headey gets fierce, strong performances out of her cast, but the story, with its whiplash twist, is a bit of a stretch.

Watch the trailer for Azaar

For me, the best Bafta short this year is Myriam Raja’s ambitious, dream-like Azaar, about a little girl in an Indian village, apparently during the Raj, who notices her mother dabbing blood with a cloth from a slaughtered chicken. There is a real boldness and sweep to this film, and a very disturbing long shot concerning Azaar’s mother.

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Source: The Guardian
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