With over 157 world-class international short films from 30 countries across the world, the Beeston Film Festival offers the perfect opportunity to get involved and celebrate film and filmmakers whether that’s attending one of the screenings at The Arc, Beeston or watching online.

The Arc will be showcasing a range of Comedy, horror, animation, thriller, documentary, and drama over 4 jam packed days of screenings. On the final day to celebrate the 9th edition of the festival, an award show will be held to crown the winners of the B’ Oscars.

Our wonderful team caught up with the directors credited for several of the short films, many of whom are either making their directorial debut or local to the Nottinghamshire area, where they gave us a much-anticipated insight into their creations.

‘My Eyes Are Up Here’ by Nathan Morris

Screening: Relationships (Women’s Voices)
With Arminder Virdee and Arthur Meek as writers and New Zealander, Nathan Morris, as director, ‘My Eyes Are Up Here’ follows a disabled woman who sets off on a mission to get the morning after pill. The only thing in her way is everything…

The short film “brings a vibrant, under-represented voice to the screen”, who in many ways feels misunderstood. “I think everyone can relate to certain degrees. I can relate to not feeling understood, not fitting it, and wanting to get the hell away from someone”. Morris explains how the feeling of otherness in his own life connected him to the story as he stated “I want people to see her life. I learnt so much from just talking to Arminder” Morris recalls as he continues to explain how he would like people to learn “through humour and romance”, from the short film. “It’s important to celebrate what brings us together and what makes us similar”.

When asked what three elements make a good film, without hesitation Morris says “believability, curiosity and a good ending” which stays true to ‘My Eyes Are Up Here’ which has been nominated for both the ‘Best Infestival’ and “Women’s Voices’ categories at the festival.

Bona Vacantia by Shezah Salam

Screening: Turning Tides (Women’s Voices)
“What happens if I die alone? As the pandemic raged around the world, I couldn’t get the question out of my head.” – Shezah Salam

‘Bona Vacantia’, Latin for ‘Vacant Goods’ addresses “absence and the things we leave behind – both physically and emotionally” The short drama, set in Liverpool, explores the themes of morality, loneliness, and an immigrant’s concept of home as Nadia Basheer, a council worker, enters the homes of people who have died alone, disturbing their treasures, and learning their stories, all while keeping her own relentless paranoia in check. Salam explains how she took inspiration from a news article on the BBC where she discovered the job of a death administrator and its physical and emotional toll on a person.

When talking about the script to screen process, Salam expresses how “filmmaking is a team activity” as she proudly credits her team. “I was lucky to have such an amazing cast, such an amazing crew, and a big shoutout to my cinematographer ‘Nizah Elias’, who is an amazing female DP…it was also her vision, her idea of what the mood was going to be”. Talking about her anxieties about casting during the pandemic and how Yasmin Wilde “made her job so much easier”, Salam says “as soon as she came in, she just got the character immediately. There’s a quiet strength about her, that I really wanted in the character, that she just exudes almost naturally.” Described as “moving, thought-provoking and funny” by the director, ‘Bona Vacantia’ is up for an award for its script and an award in the “Women’s Voices’ category, at the B’ Oscars.

A Last Resort by Leanne Davis

Screening: Beeston & Beyond
Nottingham director, Leanne Davis states that the film is a “love letter to mothers and daughters everywhere” sending the beautiful message through humour, pain, and honesty. Speaking about what the film means to her and what she hopes comes out of the film, Davis said “This film is my attempt to begin a conversation that proves that the terrifying diagnosis of Alzheimer’s doesn’t have to be a life sentence and ultimately where there is love, there is light.” Inspired by her own life, Davis expresses how she “wanted to encapsulate what it’s like to have a mum with early onset Alzheimer’s, especially when everything that’s portrayed in the media and culture is a much older people with Dementia and Alzheimer’s. It’s something you don’t expect.”

After initially writing a TV pilot, which was took for Amazon in the USA, Davis decided to take a risk, to ensure the story could be told in a way that felt personal by writing it into a short instead, which was took to the BFI. When talking through the process, Davis proudly reminisced and explained the “release” she felt from creating the short. As the interview came to a close, Davis reiterates the message of the film. “Life is hard but if you surround yourself by people that you love and people that love you, you’ll find a way through it, and there’s always light even no matter how small”.
Davis’ directorial debut, ‘A Last Resort’ has been nominated for 2 awards, the ‘East Mids Focus’ and ‘Best Infestival’, which will be decided on the last evening of the festival.

Many thanks to Orla for conducting these interviews! And of course, the amazing filmmakers for finding time to give us an insight into their incredible short films!

See you in Beeston!

Screening times and categories can be found via the festival programme or at https://beeston.arccinema.co.uk.

– Abigail Stilborn