• Kieran Burt

NOTTIFF Day Three: Thank You So Much, My Dinner With Werner and More

Nottingham Film International Festival finishes in an excellent fashion. There were similar offerings to the Saturday, with two blocks of short films, a feature documentary about the female wrestlers in the Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez, and the feature film Country of Hotels to end the festival.

The shorts are once again the standout offerings of the night. Some of the ones that are particularly noteworthy are Thank You So Much, My Dinner With Werner, Tom Cat and (Ab)Normal.

Thank You So Much is about an over-enthusiastic street during the first COVID-19 lockdown. The neighbours try to outdo one another until the nurse next door challenges one of them, and gets a telling off. This short is hilarious, exposing some of the performative gratitude that is sometimes shown.

My Dinner With Werner is also hilarious; it is mad and all over the place in the best of ways. Tom Cat is a monologue about a woman debating the seriousness of the sexual assault she experienced while a local cat invites itself into her house. The symbolism between the entitlement of the cat and the man is a clever parallel, and makes the short extremely interesting. (Ab)Normal is another short with an important message, as it is a film about a conversation in a men’s locker room.

The shorts, documentaries and features are well chosen, giving a great balance between bigger directors and upcoming names

There are some shorts that did not land well, such as Scrubber. The short is about a quirky woman washing the dishes and falling in love with her neighbour. This film, however, is not as interesting as the others, as it doesn’t carry a strong plot or visuals. Skincare is another short that doesn’t present interesting ideas either.

The documentary Luchadoras is an informative watch. It focuses both on the personal and the professional lives of women in Mexico, which is a strong portrayal of how women get treated in Mexico and how they cope. This is something that isn’t shown a lot in Western media, so the international focus in the documentary is a welcome addition.

The feature film Country of Hotels closes the night. Julio Maria Martino directs the movie about three different guests in Hotel Room 508. The first guest is a man cheating on his wife, the second is a man under intense pressure from his work, and finally there are two men who end up dying. The film has a sense of unease about it, as dark events happen in different ways to the guests. The strongest section is the midpoint of the film, where the second guest stays in the room, and his mental state clearly declines the longer he stays.

Overall, NOTTIFF closes with its strongest night, leaving audiences with a positive experience throughout. The shorts, documentaries and features are well chosen, giving a great balance between bigger directors and upcoming names. The Festival also allows for students to get a spot at the festival, with examples such as the documentary Eden and the short film Darling. The audience can’t tell the difference between which is and isn’t a student film, which speaks to their high quality. The event planners should be proud of their picks.