The Baftas are almost here and with them a thoroughly worthwhile annual event: the touring presentation of Bafta-nominated short films. There are, as ever, gems to be found, though I must confess to finding a slight lack of tonal variety this year, and a couple of films had a worrying tendency to rely on a single, casually conceived act of violence to beat the audience into submission. Violence-equals-real is a cliche, and a problem with the writing.
At any rate, my favourite piece was the excellent Work, written and directed by Aneil Karia, starring Jasmine Breinburg as Jess, a young dancer who battles through her day, being menaced, patronised and abused by almost everyone she meets. Everything is hard work, both her life and the jobs she does to make ends meet, and yet somehow she absorbs the anger and frustration and channels it – enigmatically – into the dance routine itself. This is her real work as an artist.
I also enjoyed the animation Poles Apart, by Paloma Baeza, about a polar bear who comes across a goofy, friendly Canadian grizzly. It had a touch of Wes Anderson. Some films made an honourable attempt to represent the refugee experience: Vika Evdokimenko’s Aamir and Mahdi Fleifel’s A Drowning Man.
Often, it feels as if it’s film-makers rather than TV news journalists who are most alive to the refugee issue.