Short indie film round-up: Getting In, Opp Block, Sorrow

The title card of Getting In, and independent short film directed by Richard Keaney. Available to watch on YouTube.
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We’re looking to support more and more indie filmmakers trying to get their short films seen – and here’s three to get us started.

Welcome to  what’s going to be a weekly dive into the best of indie cinema on Youtube. This week features the grit and grime of London’s gang culture, a young Irish lad and his dad try to charm their way past a belligerent bouncer, and a grieving man turns to an experimental drug to overcome his pain. All short films, from independent filmmakers….

Getting In (Dir. Richard Keaney)

This feel-good short is based on a true story and was written by the real-life father Ken Armstrong. A young lad tries to get past a bouncer to see his favourite band, but the doorman’s having none of it. After several aborted attempts, the boy’s father delivers a heartfelt plea which leads to an unexpected conclusion. Nice performances all round, especially the stubborn bouncer, played by Brendan O’Flynn. Writer Ken’s real son actually provides the Birdman-esque drumming soundtrack.

Getting In has a charming script with plenty of wit and the dynamics between O’Flynn’s bouncer and Frank Pendergast as the optimistic father is entertaining. Director Keaney makes good use of the film’s Dublin locations; the lanes off Georges Street and Camden Street really deliver that ‘waiting backstage’ vibe.

Most of us remember that feeling of being young, when your favourite band meant more to us than life itself, and many also can relate to the disappointment of not getting to see them live (for me it was De La Soul at the UEA in Norwich, 22 October 1989). The film’s premise is one of those “what if” scenarios that is made all the more delightful because it actually happened for real.

Opp Block (Dir. Luke Biggins)

Next up is this gritty short about inner city violence between rival gangs who violate ‘opp blocks’ (a term meaning enemy territory). This hard-hitting morality tale, written by Shiloh McLean, features BBE (Black British English, which uses a combination of the Jamaican language Patois, West African Creole (Pidgin), the mainstream English language as well as Black-British words) heavily and can feel quite alienating, but I think that’s a good thing. It feels foreign to anyone outside of the community. It’s a world beyond my experience but it’s important that these voices get shared.

Main character Kai (Jordan Aloye) is a young rapper who gets entangled in local in-fighting when he releases a track that ‘disses’ a rival. At the same time, his estranged father returns from prison and tries to steer his son away from the mistakes he made. It’s a brutal, bleak portrait of young black lives in 21st century London.

The performances and direction have a loose, almost improvised feel. The cinematography is stripped down with a documentary style, emphasising the bare realities of life in ‘the ends’. The trap beats and grime soundtrack rattle through the story like bullets. Sadly, the director Luke Biggins passed away in 2021 and he is commemorated in the closing credits.

Sorrow (Dir. Kieran Hicks)

Okay, this one actually made me cry since it deals with grieving a loved one. The story opens on a man deep in the depths of depression, ignoring his answering machine, ignoring the housework, ignoring his personal hygiene etc. That is until an ad for an experimental drug comes on the TV, claiming to help reunite him with his partner. The drug works but with disturbing consequences.

The transitions between fantasy and reality are achieved by an excellent use of match cuts, thanks to Ben Hicks’ editing skills. I assume the two are brothers and wrote the film together as there’s no specific writer credit. It has a slightly Black Mirror premise but the tone is not as dark and nightmarish. The photography is very well shot and the performances from Harry Mark and Mae Sutton are low key and believable.

The music choices are a key to its success too, especially the ending which, as I stated, turned me into a blubbering mess. If you’re looking for a little bit of heartbreaking romance — with a tiny dash of horror — that ultimately delivers some much-needed catharsis then this little gem of a movie is for you.

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