• Kieran Burt

NOTTIFF Day One Review: Life Skills, Renaissance Man and More

Nottingham International Film Festival has a strong opening night, with several shorts to kick off the event. Some of them stand out as particularly praiseworthy, and some do not land as well.

Firstly, the best short is Life Skills. Gino Evans directs as tory about an ex-army man becoming a hitman. Evans frames this short in the style of a charity ad, with it feeling like a darker 'Made in the Royal Navy' promotion. Dark humour features prominently in this, and it is hilarious. It is an excellent subversion of audience expectations, with one particularly gruesome scene of someone’s legs being broken sticking long in the memory.

There is some sadness to the short as well. The reason the main character, Nathan, leaves the army is because of his wife and child, who then leave him. This sends him down a path of drugs and despair. The film revisits this at the end with a tense twist that will leave you on the edge of your seat.

Another short that stands out is Renaissance Man. Carson Hunt directs the documentary about the cast of the Tennessee Medieval Faire. It focuses on William, a 60-year-old tank driver who lives with his cats.

This is very emotional throughout, but especially at the end. William explains what the experience of joining the fair is like, and how he found a family in the rest of the cast.

The shorts make for a strong opening night at the Nottingham International Film Festival

This short has a powerful ending, with William explaining that every year it is hard to say goodbye to his found family. This is made sadder because William lives in the countryside, making it hard for him to meet up with his castmates.

One short that doesn't work as well, however, is The Gospel According to Gail. This short follows Mia, as she learns to drive with her teacher, Gail. Gail is not the usual teacher and tries to impart several life lessons to Mia in the process. This short is comedic in tone, but the jokes don’t land - which makes things less effective. The character of Gail comes off as annoying instead of funny.

Overall, the shorts make for a strong opening night at the Nottingham International Film Festival, with them being a great mix of funny and serious in tone. This builds up anticipation for the rest of the event.