The Movie Waffler Seattle Shorts - <i>THE MIDNIGHT TOURIST / EVEN THE WALLS / BEVERLEY</i> | The Movie Waffler


We review three shorts from the upcoming Seattle Shorts Festival.

The fifth annual Seattle Shorts Film Festival takes place November 14th-15th and we've been given an early look at some of the shorts competing. Click the image below to book your tickets.

Reviews by Benjamin Poole (@filmclubchs)

The Midnight Tourist
Seattle itself receives proud representation in two films screening at the Seattle Shorts Film Festival. First up, there’s The Midnight Tourist, a rather charming animation centring on an imaginative young boy and his nocturnal adventures in the Jet City. In this cute short, a sleepy kid pans the glittering skyline of Seattle before bedtime, noticing with delighted alarm that the Space Needle is not where it should be, and is in fact fulfilling the science fiction connotations of its name by clambering elegantly through the slumbering city towards the boy’s room, from which it scoops him, taking him on a midnight adventure wherein Seattle really comes to life.
The sense of awe and childish excitement here reminded me of The Iron Giant, although with its animation as shiny and colourful as a child’s toy box, The Midnight Tourist is a much lighter, breezier film. Playing on the first day, The Midnight Tourist should start the festival with a sweet touch of enchantment.

Even the Walls
A less light-hearted exemplification of Seattle is offered by documentary Even the Walls, which focuses on the Yesler area of the city, a low income housing project which faces demolition due to encroaching gentrification.
Through a series of talking heads, sequences of the community interacting and judiciously sourced historical footage, directors Sarah Kuck and Saman Maydani really allow us to get to know the residents of Yesler and give an authentic flavour of the area that they live in. Our nominal guide is Selaay, a young black man who is proud to have lived in Yesler for two decades, and articulately bemoans the progress that is tearing his community in two. But Selaay’s eloquent anger is impotent, with the film’s poignancy derived from the fait accompli of Yesler’s destruction, as scenes of rumbling JCBs are intercut with the narrative. "I already felt it was a lost cause," Selaay laments.
We’re also introduced to Audry, a resident who came to Yesler through Cajun country, an Iraqi father and son, and a regretful ex-convict given a second chance. So much for ghettoization: in Yesler, people from all cultures simply get on. Despite the harmony of their surroundings, and the charisma of the residents (exemplified by gentle, elegiac film making), the society of Yesler is one that we are not likely to see in Hollywood movies any time soon, which makes their representation here all the more valuable. On the eve of their community’s destruction, there is much regret from the residents concerning the erosion of the area’s history, and fears that the vanquishing of Yesler’s many memories will entail that the place and its people will be forgotten. That the important documentation of this film will exist forever hopefully makes such an outcome less likely.

There’s a less harmonious community spirit shown in Alexander Thomas’ blistering Beverley. Set a world away from Seattle across the pond in 1980s Leicester, Beverley follows the confusion and frustration of a mixed race girl (Laya Lewis) as she attempts to find her place in a shifting landscape of recession, race relations and reggae beats. The film’s thematic similarities to Shane Meadow’s peerless This is England are acknowledged with the casting of Vicky McClure (here perfecting her trademark striking sternness), but while Meadow’s film took its point of view from a working class white lad, here we see events through the filter of Beverley’s perspective. As she falls in with a group of white teen skinheads, it’s pretty clear that things won’t run smoothly, but how events pan out may surprise you. Despite realising immediately that half the lads are idiot, proto-EDL scum, Beverley still wants to hang out, she needs approval: of these bovver boys, but also the wider acceptation of her family into the community. And why shouldn’t she have such acceptance?
Early on in the film, one of Beverley’s neighbours talks about the unifying powers of music, that a song, played by a few, can bring together the many, through the shared experience of listening. What a fitting metaphor for this beguiling film.