We do like a bit of black comedy here at the ESFF so when Hidden Door offered us a chance to play some of our favourites from last year, we had a quick conflab and by mutual agreement came up with a programme that is dark and funny and back to dark again, so gives you some idea of what a sick bunch of individuals we are!

First off, IMITATIONS by Fabian Velasco & Milos Mitrovic is thoroughly recommended for anyone harbouring suspicions about You Tubers and modern-day celebrity culture, its an hilarious indictment of both as well as a dark slice of body-horror  – almost as though Cronenberg did Black Mirror! We loved it last year and the addictively catchy theme tune will almost certainly stick in your head all night!


BORIS IN THE FOREST by Robert Hackett and featuring Red Dwarf’s Mac Macdonald, explores the world of fandom further as a naïve and slightly obsessive Boris Karloff fan goes on an ultimately successful quest to find his hero’s birthplace. A simple, but very funny, tale with some comic characterisation and an ending with a superbly grotesque twist.

Max Walter’s UNDER THE TABLE features some strongly comic characterisation and the universal tale of the Alpha-Male father and his Zeta-Male, table-tennis loving son. They are grotesques and ciphers of some deeply Australian stereotypes, but none the less funny or telling for that.
It’s warmly shot with a colourfully yellow palette, and it’s attention to quirky period detail is witty and in keeping with the characters.

Charlie Edwards-Moss and Joe Williams deservedly won our Rising Star Award last year with their Coen Brothers-influenced Comedy-Thriller DUKE’S PURSUIT. The film is a stunning achievement, shot on a low budget in Iceland over the course of a week, using period cars and local cast, filmed in desolate and remote locations and achieving some stunning drone shots, night-time filming and a cast that sparkles. The script is both dark and funny and the story arc ends in a typically messy fashion.


The Staff Picks night ends with the fantastically successful comedy short MADAM BLACK by Ivan Barge. It’s played at around 50 film festivals, winning awards at the Rhode Island International Film Festival among many others. The film is a black comedy from New Zealand that follows the increasingly imaginative efforts by a photographer who has accidentally run over, and killed, a little girl’s pet cat (the eponymous Madam Black).
Somehow delightful and playful despite the malodorous presence of a dead cat’s body throughout the film.

So pack up your popcorn and settle down for some rare treats from the candy store of cinema that is the ESFF Staff Picks night.