Last Look At Paradise via YouTube

Watch seven short films from bold, innovative new directors

Here’s a round-up of our favourite Random Acts films from Channel 4

In 2011, Channel 4 launched the Random Acts project as a platform for established and upcoming cinematic talent across the UK and beyond. Every year, experimental artists and filmmakers are commissioned to create three-minute short films. The STOP PLAY RECORD project, helmed by the ICA, partners with selected media and artistic outlets in the UK to hold open submissions for 16-24 year olds looking to start their journey into the visual arts world. A number of lucky applicants are then selected to work with a small budget to create their own film.

This year’s line-up of films is timely and diverse, as it mirrors social and political happenings around the globe. Breakthrough talents use the screen as a canvas to show thought-provoking stories that span from Venezuelan protests against national violence and narratives of West African traditions, to families torn apart by immigration policies, environmental issues caused by human hyper-development, London’s underground queer scene, and the effects social media has on our mental health and relationships. 

Random Acts in previous years has featured artists such as Riz Ahmed, Shia LaBeoufAi Weiwei and Marina Abramovic among others. 

Scroll down to watch some of our favourite entries.

CALLS TO CARACAS

Filmmaker Amy Douglas-Morris Benavides’ Calls To Caracas explores family relationships in a time of political turmoil, as demonstrations rage against the country's high level of inflation, violence and corruption, and Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro. Through the lens of a multi-generational family and its conversations, Calls To Caracas documents the feelings of fear, uncertainty and disorder that take over in such political and social climate. Exploring the importance of strength and family during a time of countrywide chaos, the multi-media film alternates videos and tapes of the family’s phone calls, newspaper cut-outs documenting the protests and videos of the civil insurrection.

CHECK YOUR CONNECTION

In her short film Check Your Connection, filmmaker Georgie Daley explores the extent to which social media apps affect our everyday lives, our mental health and our relationships with others.

The short film documents different people’s accounts of how social networks dilute their human experiences – with digital interactions replacing IRL interactions – or how, sometimes, social media provides the confidence to talk and open up more. Reflecting on passive networking and the importance we attribute to our online selves, the short film gives us a strong piece of advice: to take a break from technology and establish a dialogue with ourselves.

LAVENDER

Filmmaker Eva Bor’s short film Lavender delves into the effects that deportation has on the relationship between a Zimbabwean mother and son. Inspired by a real-life story, Lavender follows the upheavals of Lavender Chifamba, who, after having worked in the UK since 1989, has her ‘Indefinite Leave to Remain’ visa revoked and is sadly deported to her native Zimbabwe.

London-based filmmaker Bor – whose work focuses on diasporic concepts of identity and belonging – depicts Lavender’s relationship with her son Tendai (who still lives in London) through a phone call between the two, in which they discuss her possible return to the UK.

LAST LOOK AT PARADISE

For his Last Look At Paradise short film, director Wajahat Hussain imagines a disco daydream with the aim to depict London’s underground queer scene. Using sound, light and motion from different angles – and a funky sound at first – Hussain builds up on two characters with different backgrounds and identities. The film reaches its climax when the characters are then brought to the same dimension, in what looks like a cabaret theatre or dance hall. As the dub music picks up, the characters – who in most of Hussain’s films are his close friends – are seen effortlessly posing together on velvet sofas.

A SINGLE BRACELET DOES NOT JINGLE

A Single Bracelet Does Not Jingle, directed by filmmaker Anita Safowaa, is an intimate short film about the life of a Ghanaian-British family. Inspired by the West African Akan symbol Funtumfunafu – meaning unity – the film celebrates the sense of togetherness that characterises the family’s household.

Entirely shot in the family’s home, A Single Bracelet documents everyday objects that make up for the family’s daily routines and habits. From personal belongings, to traditional Ghanaian dishes like jollof rice, fufu, cassava and shito, Safowaa celebrates the beauty and vibrancy of her West African heritage.

SMALL AXES

Filmmaker Deborah Findlater brings traditional West African narratives and storytelling into modern-day south London with Small Axes. Through the perspective of two siblings (irl brother and sister), the film symbolises the unique power of sibling cooperation and joint action as they work together to fight against the closure of their local library-turned-playground. Sequences of two siblings playing are overlaid with voices from the siblings who narrate an Akan folktale, Anansi The Spider – written by Deborah – which is a metaphor for the plot.

HORROR VACUI

London-based multimedia artist Matteo Zamagni reflects on the overdevelopment of mankind, our effects on nature and our detachment from it in his experimental short film, Horror Vacui. The film juxtaposes the Earth’s untouched lands and human beings’ artificial settlements. Using a back-and-forth of computer-aided designs, real images of forests and mountains landscapes and overpopulated metropolitan areas, Horror Vacui culminates in an explosion, that sees nature prevailing over constructions before it all retracts to an abstract, primordial-looking shape – is this our world’s future?

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