ESFF: In ? We Trust

Centred around the theme of religion, IN ? WE TRUST brings together a selection of shorts connected in some way with religion. From a priest desperate for some ice-cream in IN THE NAME OF THE STRAWBERRY, THE CHOCOLATE & THE HOLY SPIRIT, to the sci-fi BAVURE, this programme of shorts at Edinburgh Short Film Festival will both engage your mind and leave you wondering about what, if anything, is out there.

AFTER THE RAIN is a touching animation filled with colour and texture. The filmic world in this short is inhabited by an elderly man, his dog, and quite a lot of sheep. It is a cyclical world, where the man shears the sheep and puts their wool in the sky to create rain, which then keeps their world in balance. When the old man passes away, the dog is left to save the land from drought. While the film could be read as trying to convey a deeper message, it does not come across as preachy. AFTER THE RAIN repurposes well-known religious images, like the sheep and elderly man with a cane, to make a feel-good film which feels warm both in content and graphics.

SINNER GIRL is one of the darker films in the programme. Set in Italy, Lucia is an 11-year-old girl preparing to make her first communion in a male orientated world. Her home life is complicated, with an abusive father and a submissive mother, Lucia grows increasingly aware of her femininity and how this is at odds with the patriarchal world she inhabits. While attending confession and reciting the act of contrition, she insists that she says she is a sinner girl in her prayer, emphasising her sex. The film sees Lucia embark on a sort of pilgrimage where she destroys the cane her father used to beat her, before throwing herself into the sea, her fate left unknown.

While conceptually intriguing and visually interesting, CHAOS is slightly deceiving in its lack of depth. This is either a genius reflection of its interest in the devil, or a sign it has missed the mark. In CHAOS, a large section of the narrative has been filmed as though it was on rewind; as the devil utters the words ‘chaos’, the drama instantly unfolds, quite literally, in reverse. This visual stylisation works like a murder mystery, revealing small details one at a time and asking us to pay close attention to each movement. Despite this film’s excellent focus on the detail, it does feel unnatural to watch, at points bordering on the uncomfortable. It plays with our perception of what a film should be doing. Although we can happily understand that a film’s narrative might unfold non-chronologically, it is unusual to experience this sort of visual “chaos”. While this does successfully reflect the character of the devil, CHAOS seems too preoccupied with trying to be stylised.

IN ? WE TRUST has a good range of films with something which would interest everyone, and a couple of films like AFTER THE RAIN which many would struggle not to enjoy.

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