The 2022 Manchester Film Festival kicks off this Saturday, with a host of impressive features and shorts programmes that will be playing in-person across the city. Amongst the features on show is Justin Kurzel’s disturbing true life drama Nitram, which won Caleb Landry Jones the Best Actor prize in Cannes last year. Also playing is another Cannes-winner, Finnish director Juho Kuosmanen’s Compartment No. 6 – a life-affirming tale of two strangers on a train. The brilliant George MacKay also takes centre stage in Wolf, playing a man who believes he’s a wolf trapped in a human body.
It’s also a superb year for ASFF alumni, with a number of films from our 2021 Official Selection screening in Manchester’s shorts programmes. Amongst those to look out for is Lin Laurin’s You Promise? (Short Session 2, 16 March at 17.40pm). This Swedish tale takes place in Malmö in 1988 and is seen through the eyes of 5 year-old Vida, who watches as her parents go through a painful divorce. The naturalistic performance from Josefine Hallin, who plays Vida, is a true wonder.
Also featuring is Larry Ketang and Liam White’s Punch-Drunk (North West Shorts, 15 March at 17.40pm), which has been longlisted at this year’s BAFTA awards for Best British Short Film. The 13-minute short stars Barry Ward (Des, White Lines) in a story about a man whose life is turned upside down when he meets a stranger in a café in Marseille. Playing in the same strand is Milda Baginskaite’s True Colours, which features Amy-Leigh Hickman and Tilly Keeper as two teenage girls who envy what the other has as they try and navigate the complexities of adolescent life.
One of the wittiest shorts to play at ASFF last year was Joshua Thornton-Allan’s Fuck The Honeymoon (Short Session 7, 18 March at 20.00pm), starring Rob Kendrick and Lucy Walker-Evans. The story is set around an alternative first date – at a couples counselling session (if only they’d try this on First Dates!). As hopeful romantics Lizzie and Nathan come to understand each other’s flaws, it’s a smart snapshot of modern relationships and the dating game.
For those looking for something more alternative, try Man or Tree (North West Shorts 2, 20 March at 12.50pm), a 4-minute short from Varun Raman and Tom Hancock. This trippy tale chronicles a tree that begins to question whether it’s actually a man hallucinating on drugs. Also in the mix is The Rebirthing Club (Short Session 10, 19 March at 20.00pm). Directed by Valentina Carrasco Thayer, it stars Andrea Paz Guerrero in a strange but affecting tale of a man who has voluntarily closed his eyes to avoid heartbreak – but now undergoes a very unique therapy in a swimming pool.
Also on the bill is Simon Neal’s The Dinner Party (Short Session 8, 19 March at 15.00pm), a compelling look at a marriage on the brink. Based on a New Yorker short story by Joshua Ferris and starring Daniel Ings and Louise Ford, the dialogue bristles in this tale of a thirtysomething who is planning to disrupt his wife’s dinner party by playing cruel tricks on her guests. Finally, we have Slow-Down (Short Session 9, 19 March at 17.30pm). Ornella Hawthorn Gardez’s tense 10-minute short, starring Sara Stewart, tells the story of a mother who discovers her daughter has been taken. Truly something for all tastes at this year’s MANIFF.
The Manchester Film Festival runs between 12-20 March. For more details, click here.
Words: James Mottram