London International Mime Festival: short films

After last year’s fully online festival, the London International Mime Festival returns for 2022 with a hybrid showcase. While live productions are showing at the Barbican, The Place, Peacock Theatre, the Puppet Theatre Barge, Shoreditch Town Hall and Jacksons Lane, you can also see a range of films on the festival website for free.

This post will concentrate on the five films in the Short Films section. A full-length show, Cold, has also been made available for the duration of the festival, and a collection from Heather Henson’s Handmade Puppet Dreams, which I will review seperately.

The short films at London International Mime Festival 2022 by Delgado Fuchs, Dewey Dell, Gabriella Muñoz . Hiroaki Umeda and Patrick Sims

2022 Short Films

The brief for these films is to create a short between 3-10 minutes long that isn’t driven by spoken text. This means the style is widely varied and : in some cases, extremely experimental.

Delgado Fuchs (Switzerland): IRONICX. This film is futuristic, yet rooted in history, as two suits of armour come to life in what seems to be a trendy bar. They seem in competition in a strange sort of dance off, sizing each other up like animals seeking a friend, before suddenly becoming something much more conventional under the flashing lights, their bodies driven by industrial rhythm. The performers are Nadine Fuchs and Marco Delgado.

Dewey Dell (Italy): They Rise and They Fall. This is a short all about nature, movement, and human intervention. The music by Demetrio Vastellucci is harsh, the movements choreographed by Teodora and Agata Castellucci are abrasive yet graceful. This is a four and a half minute piece about woodland spirituality and our decisions as custodians of outdoor space. Vito Matera designs the set, kighting and sculpture for this hypnotic piece.

Gabriella Muñoz  (Mexico): Plant. This is a ten-minute piece with jaunty music by Andres Landon, an intriguing space, and a happy, clownish figure (Muñoz ) who goes about their day. Their space , both indoors and out, feels full of items designed for play, with everything in its place. As the days progress, there is a sense of loneliness and ennui, with music to suit. We can speculate on what might be going on in this story, with its hourglass timing and hobbit hole, its repetition and solitude. The colours and composition of this film give it additional interest. Directed and edited by Guillermo Llamas Altamirano.

Hiroaki Umeda (Japan): Mold 1. This is an abstract piece in which we watch a shape’s movement as it suggests a range of objects. The rhythm suggests both discontent and innovation as it pops and crackles. In this three minute piece it is very much up to the audience to decide what they are seeing and what those images might mean. Direction is by S20, choreography by Umeda.

Patrick Sims (France/USA): The Ribs and Terror. Les Antliaclastes presents my favourite of this year’s shorts, a film which runs nearly seventeen minutes (so is slightly longer than the brief) and calls itself “a lullaby for a sinking submarine”. Blackly comic, this utlises music, images and puppetry to craft a piece which is both amusing and horrific. The puppets and marionette work by Karine Dumont, Richard Penny, and Sims is accomplished and often beautiful throughout, and the story is tinged with a wicked streak of humour.

The London International Mime Festival continues until 6 February.