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Oxford University Short Film Festival 2024- Day 3

Going to Wednesday’s Oxford University Short Film Festival (OUSFF) screening was my first experience of student-made films, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. The turnout was impressive, and Keble’s O’Reilly theatre was buzzing as we waited for the evening’s entertainment to start. Such a turnout is testament to the passion of those involved with the Oxford filmmaking scene and as a result, my hopes were high as the first film began after a short introduction from our hosts. I was not to be disappointed. 

The Narrows

The first film of the night was The Narrows, a thriller that draws the viewer in with its mysterious characters and plot. We follow a young ‘boy’ as he (she) joins the crew of a narrow boat transporting ominous cargo that appears to be both valuable and dangerous. The quality of the camerawork for this piece really stood out across all the films of the night, capturing beautiful shots of the canal in both light and dark scenes. The latter developed an eerie atmosphere which worked incredibly well, and the performances from the lead actors left me wanting to know more about the characters and their backgrounds. If anything, The Narrows is a short film I’d love to see made into a full-length piece so we could finally discover who the mysterious ‘Mr Lyle’ is. 

If the world was 1s, 2s, and 3s

A much shorter piece, the second film of the night pulled together nostalgic clips set to a poetic narrative about our perspectives on life. While the words represent a look into the thoughts of the film’s creator,it brings together skilfully edited clips from both Oxford and further afield. All in all, the film created a comforting yet inspiring feeling, indicating the power behind its poetry. 


We’ve all been there: sat in a conversation where everyone else seems to know the person being discussed, but we’re oblivious. BNOC culture in Oxford is, arguably, out of control, and BNOC captures this perfectly. The film tracks the poisonous desire to fit in and be friends with campus celebrities that seems to affect so many people at this university, while at the same time ridiculing them masterfully. Marked with a beautiful and hilarious twist at the end, BNOC features some great cinematography around Oxford and clever use of sound to capture the anxieties and frailties of our protagonist.

Every Other Kid

A submission from NYU, this piece tackles the American culture that has led to declining teenage mental health and rising gun crime, especially through school shootings. While I was initially sceptical about the use of rap as a medium to convey these themes, and some of the earlier lines felt slightly weak in their delivery, I was left stunned by the way it was brought together at the end. A heart wrenching watch, Every Other Kid brings home its message incredibly effectively. This film reminds us that across the west, teenage mental health is under supported and young people feel ignored, but also reminds us of the beauty of life, and that there is (or there should be) a way through our struggles. 

Beijing Pigeons

Ending on a much lighter note, Beijing Pigeons brings us to the Hutongs of Beijing, where we meet a man (our ‘pigeon fancier’) and his wife. It follows a man who has been raising pigeons for his whole life and explores his and his wife’s home and their relationship. It is a lovely depiction of married life and shows us an incredibly peaceful world nestled in the heart of the city. The genuine pride and happiness on display from both of them makes me consider starting a pigeon sanctuary of my own. Again, it utilises camera work incredibly well, bringing the evening to a close with some calming shots of their home and the city. 

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the evening’s entertainment. I was astounded by the high quality of all of the student productions. Bringing together both national and international submissions, it is good to hear that this year’s festival is OUSFF’s biggest yet – and perhaps even its best.

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