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Sunday Shorts: Let's be Friends?

Let’s be Friends?

At a time where our main interactions currently with our friends is virtual, this week we look at the theme of friendship in its multifaceted forms. For this I bring you four films that think about friends and relationships in different ways.


We start with Carol Morley’s, Return Trip (2001). In this film Morley tracks down an old friend Catherine Corcoran and they return to India, where they once travelled as teenagers. The memories of the pairs are intertwined with images from India as they speculate over ‘things that may not have happened’ if they had taken different decisions. What at first feels like it might be a positive tale of memories and nostalgia, soon descends into tragedy as they recount Catherine falling into a well and the injuries that she receives as a result, and how this incident changed their relationship as a result. At this point clear images melt into abstracted forms of undistinguishable shapes, mimicking the fraught emotions and confused memories of the event. Return Trip acts as a complex film that explores the abstract world of friendship and how it can often be challenged, tested and changed by a single occurrence or happening.

The second film we bring you is Cucli, by film maker Xavier Marrades (2016). The short follows truck driver Ramon, who leads a rather solitary life with his elderly parents after the death of his wife, but things change after he befriends an injured white dove who he ‘met by chance’ and nurses back to health. Rather than fly away once healed the dove has grown an attachment to Ramon and becomes his constant companion barely leaving his side, and for Ramon it is not just friendship that the bird provides him, but a message from his wife, ‘this dove gives me something…I lost my wife three and a half years ago and well the dove keeps me company.’

The man and bird do everything together spending time on the road as he drives lorries but also when he rests at weekends, he comments how he ‘spend[s] all day with the dove…she has her own bunk on top of mine, that’s how it is.’ The enduring sense of loyalty and companionship that this film celebrates is heart-warming, and enhanced by the skilful cinematography which frames the relationship of the pair, in both sweeping vistas of the Spanish countryside, but also intimate spaces within the home.

The next film, and continuing the theme of bird companions, is an archive film from the British Pathe’s collection simply called Pigeons, (1939). It is very short coming in less than a minute, and shows a number of rare breed and prize winning pigeons that have just returned from a show. A cat named Sandy is seen stalking in front and in between the cages, who has as the narrator recounts surprising befriended the birds, and has ‘become pally with them all’ and ‘so far he hasn’t turned cannibal.’ A humorous short which highlight the long held fascination humans often have with inter-species friendships.

The last film to bring you as part of this programme is Crashing Waves by Emma Gilbertson (2018), described as a queer dance film it explores sexuality and working-class themes. As soon as the film starts, there is a sense of tension, as the looming architecture of highrise flats frames two young men who come together through dance. Their movements explore a vulnerability, a rawness of intimacy, that feels somewhat unfamiliar and disallowed. The fear of observation haunts their movements as they are pulled together but equally push each other apart at the same pace. The pressure of ‘society’ often makes us feel we have to act a certain way, to stop certain friendships or relationships from happening despite emotions telling us otherwise.

crashing waves manifests this leaving us to reflect on our own past or current relationships and whether we suppressed ourselves in order to protect status or reputation or simply not being willing to take a risk…

Emma Gilbertson, Crashing Waves, 2018:


Carol Morley, return trip, 2001, 24 mins.

Xavier Marrades, Cucli, 2016, 17 min

British Pathe, Pigeons, 1939, 0.54

Emma Gilbertson, Crashing Waves, 2018, 3.13

Words and films selected by Martha Cattell

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