Good collection of BIAFF Stars for SDFM

Although the BIAFF screenings in Statford-upon-Avon have had to be postponed until October, the film entries have been judged and the star ratings awarded together with judges feedback – always helpful.

SDFM has come away with plenty of stars for it’s film entered into the competition. Here are the results followed by judges comments:

‘Painting with Glass’ – *** 5 stars *** + An IAC Special Award – The Carlin Prize

‘Dead on Time’ – *** 3 stars ***

‘A Toast to Tarring’ – *** 3 stars ***

‘Betty’s Big Break’ – *** 2 stars ***

‘High Jinx’ – *** 2 stars ***

PAINTING WITH GLASS – Judging Panel 1 – Opening this documentary were very beautiful, detailed shots which engaged us immediately. Mixing this in with a fantastic use of titling and font, which, while it seems inconsequential is a brilliantly quick way of elevating production value, so I would urge you to continue considering visual aesthetic through typography as you make more films! The film was constructed with clear, concise and technically sound talking heads. I also really appreciated the full concept being shown, and the time lapse of the creation. It felt incredibly professionally made, from seamless tracking shots to a spectacular use of colour which matched tone and style of the piece. Equally, the music choice was pitch perfect, and hit the tone just right without being over-bearing or too twee.
Going forward, I would encourage you to dissect exactly what is needed and where things could be cut. In my opinion, the film was just a bit too long and could have been cut down even further. I’d have loved some exploration on the recyclable and environmental impact of the installations which I was consistently expecting but never really came to fruition. There were also a few continuity errors, especially with the baking of the piece which went in alone and came out with a few others. Obviously as a documentary, this can be very easily ‘forgiven’, but it did feel quite noticeable and at that moment you want people to be engaged rather than pulled out from the piece.
Overall, a wonderfully crafted film which was entertaining, informative and brilliantly creative. It’s a real thought-provoking piece and I actually did get quite invested in something I never thought I would, which is a real achievement.
PAINTING WITH GLASS – Judging panel 2 – The title of this film tells us all. It is an excellent documentary about glass artwork. The idea of mounting the final work on the Pier for everyone to see and admire is a fitting memorial. The implementation of suitable music enhances the visuals of the glass material and a nice sunset opening showing where the final product is situated. It was thought that the sequence at the start of the film was well edited in time to the music.

The framing of the shots is excellent as is the eyeline with tracking shots adding to the flow of the film and pace. The close-ups are good showing the construction process of the glass work and the enthusiasm of the glass worker shone through as did the interviewees who were having this memorial made for them. The use of lavalier microphones have paid off here as the dialogue from the interviewees was crystal clear and concise. However, on a minor point, whilst the music never intruded on the dialogue, it became quite loud at times. Was the title “Firing” necessary as she spoke of it in detail? Knowing the temperature of the kiln may have been useful.
DEAD ON TIME – We felt that this was an interesting short drama with a good twist at the end which came as a nice surprise! The story was well plotted if not far fetched. There was no psychological depth to the story as the husband and wife obviously hated each other so why did they carry on living together resulting in hiring a hit man at huge expense rather than getting a divorce?

The editing was generally good, although we thought that some of the scenes on The Gallops could have been trimmed which would have helped to move the story along. The film showed good cinematography with appropriate camera angles. However, the light balance between some scenes could have been less variable. The actors’ voices were clear although the audio mix needed a little work. The music was a little overblown and in some scenes suddenly started and then stopped abruptly. The acting was at a very good standard, particularly the actress playing Maria.
Overall, the film held our interest throughout and gave us a smile with the final twist.
A TOAST TO TARRING – A loving portrait of a small town in southern England. The spectator is personally approached by a young woman who accompanies him through life in the city and especially through the cultural events there during a year. The film is based on this in terms of structure.

In some cases, the individual episodes are too long. The interviews are largely good. The camera work at the Morris dance is imaginative and appeals to the viewer. Overall, the scene transitions have been successful. Some of the jury missed a compelling story. More courage in the design would have led to a better result. Overall, the film lacked its brilliance.
BETTY’S BIG BREAK – A grand opening using clear colourful titles and ‘cheeky’ music that introduces Betty. A huge drag queen celebrity or so she thinks she is (or was!) The story line was unconvincing in places and eventually became somewhat tedious. The telephone conversation could have been edited further to keep the viewer interested, however, a split screen was used effectively. A lack of creative cutaways and similar shots made for a slow pace to the film. Varying camera angles and scenes and tighter editing would help raise the level of interest.

The music chosen was good and appropriate to this story. Face makeup was in keeping with a drag queen, being grossly overdone, and even going one step further by not having matching nail polish! tsk tsk! The roles of both Betty and the brother were poorly portrayed. The script was grossly overworked. Some great costumes and props were used. An element of humour was apparent in the closing scene with the boa that eventually sees Betty off.
HIGH JINX – Oh dear! This was a film that was predictable right from the start. The overacting of the character on screen and the music insistently “telling” us that this was a funny film. It wasn’t. It’s a poor story / gag, with a punchline that just brought groans (of despair!) from the viewing panel.

On a more positive note, the photography and editing were OK and did raise the level of the film. There was an issue with sight lines between the two characters in that these weren’t consistent in adjacent shots. We felt that the characters were stereotypical of this genre. You need to be innovative with this type of film to make it stand out.