ESFF 2015


ESFF Kicks Off: 9 Films, 3 Filmmaker Guests, 2 World Premieres

Reviews by Devin Karambelas

 The Cameo Cinema was abuzz Wednesday evening with short film creators, fans, and curious viewers willing to give the condensed format a try at ESFF’s sold-out 2015 launch.

Opening Night’s theme “Brave New Worlds” proved highly appropriate given that the festival has ventured into new territory this year including a major date change to November and a record-breaking number of submissions. On that latter point, well done team: Wednesday night’s screening was an ambitious collage of short film that began with an escaped murderer in China and ended in northern Italy with three old men, a pathetic birthday cake and their hilariously disturbing plan.


A worthy Opening Night programme features a mixed assortment of shorts that can highlight the range of accepted submissions technically, thematically and geographically.  Within ESFF’s, one could watch the beautifully animated Turkish sci-fi Golden Shot about a rusty machine who dreams of flying, a fearless girl’s brush with intense racism set against the backdrop of Britain’s 2-Tone era in Beverley and the UK premiere of the quirky Australian indie Sinkhole about a young girl’s big decision following the traumatic death of a pet frog.




The lineup also featured the World Premiere of the clever black comedy Downsizer that declares work, not war, is truly hell. The redundant employee striking back is a comical setup, but the film makes its more serious point about an out-of-control corporate culture that demands an equally unhinged response. Attending the screening were director Joe Pavlo and co-writer Andy Mackie, who lives in Edinburgh.


This is the second short film for the London-based Pavlo, who works by day as a veteran visual effects artist and digital compositor on a number of feature films. You may have caught his Emmy award-winning work on The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, HBO’s Rome series and contributions to The Da Vinci Code and last year’s Maleficent (to name just a few!) but he recently wrapped another short film titled Dead Ink Archive, and it looks fantastic.



The World Premiere of the Italian short I Wanted A War ended the program with a bang. Director Leno Palena and  screenwriter and producer Alessandro Q. Ferrari are to be commended for their impressively acted short about three old friends and the simple but maniacal plot they scheme over a cup of coffee. Thanks to witty dialogue, quick cuts and a tight development of plot that wastes no time, it was a strong example of the work a film can do in a matter of minutes.
Following the screening, Pavlo, Palena and Ferrari could be seen participating in filmed interviews moderated by ESFF director Paul Bruce and chatting with festivalgoers and staff members in the Cameo bar.

Devin Karambelas is a postgraduate student at the University of Edinburgh studying Film, Exhibition and Curation.