“Illuminating and gut-wrenching”: Our Playback Highlights

Still, The Rat King: Jess Dadds. Playback in association with Random Acts

Channel 4’s Random Acts have gained a reputation for commissioning experimental, challenging and downright weird short films. As an exhibition of 200 works by some of its most talented, 16—24 year old filmmakers tours England, we showcase three of our favourites in full…

The Law of the Sea: Elmaz Ekrem & Dominika Ożyńska (above, 3:31 mins)

“I stopped fishing fish and started fishing people…” University for the Creative Arts Farnham alumni Elmaz Ekrem and Dominika Ozynska’s beautiful stop motion animation highlights the horrifying refugee crisis from the perspective of Greek fishermen. Familiar with working in dangerous waters around Lesvos to earn a living, these men have turned into untrained humanitarians – pulling terrified people to safety from capsizing and overcrowded boats. Using brushstrokes of thick paint to capture the relentless waves of the Aegean Sea, the animation depicts bobbing boats and tumbling fish alongside men, women and children in peril; the only evidence post-rescue are thousands of discarded life jackets washed ashore like driftwood.

This is an illuminating and gut-wrenching film that manages to convey the terror felt by rescuers and rescued alike, and how quickly the situation has become a normal part of daily life on the island — stuck in an impossible cycle of international politics and basic human need.

When Standing in a Queue: Thomas Payton Greene (3:02 mins)

Most have us have experienced it, and Thomas Payton Greene nails it – in all its awkward, soul-destroying magnificence. The Manchester School of Art graduate is the “smartest man in the Job Centre”: narrating a Job Seekers Back-to-Work style course and making us cry with laughter in the process. How has Maureen, the course leader, found herself in this seventh circle of Hell? Will Thomas ever form a band called The Young Beautiful Job Seeking Graduate Society? And is everyone else in the room secretly thinking about handjobs? WARNING: You’ll probably have cold, sweaty, post-traumatic flashbacks reliving your own Dole nightmare.

Keep an eye on Greene, who is currently making a documentary after winning the DBACE Film category in 2016.

The Rat King: Jess Dadds (3:38 mins)

Part-scifi, part-social documentary, part-comedy, University of Brighton graduates Jess Dadds and DOP Ezra Mills’ Scouse protagonist, Cam, personifies graduate reality. Namely, what the fuck am I doing? In conversation with an intelligent, alien being, Cam (aka The Rat King) describes his shit job – which pays the bills while he chases his dream in the creative industries  and how his kindness at work has backfired. This is a strange and achingly on-the-nose portrayal of the post-university experience disappointing, and no guarantee of a career  but also our wider attitudes towards success and happiness under capitalism. Makes you wonder: if alien lifeforms really were studying us, Millennials in particular, what would their takeaway thoughts be about humanity?

Keep an eye out for Dadds’ next film: an upcoming work for Ignition as part of Random Acts.

Laura Robertson, Editor

Had a taste? See these films and many more at the Playback Touring Exhibition in association with Random Acts – touring Britain until March 2018

Tour continues at:

The Hive (Worcester) 1–21 September 2017

Watershed (Bristol) as part of Encounters Film Festival 19–24 September

University of Creative Arts Farnham 26 September–13 October

Kingston University Knights Park Campus 17 October–4 November

York Explore (York) as part of Aesthetica Short Film Festival 9–19 November

De La Warr Pavilion (Bexhill-on-Sea) 11 November 2017–2 January 2018

mac Birmingham 7–24 January 2018

Peninsula Arts (Plymouth) 29 January–17 February 2018

Exeter College 31 January–18 February 2018

Swindon Central Library 23 February–10 March 2018

ICA (London) 21–25 March 2018

Posted on 13/09/2017 by thedoublenegative