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White GirlPhoto Nadia Latif

What to watch at London Short Film Festival 2020

LSFF hits the capital with a programme of queer cinema, ASMR, and some questionable Public Service Broadcasts

London Short Film Festival is back, offering up a sparkling, exciting line-up of short films from both established and emerging names in cinema. The event features queer shorts, a candid, expansive documentary on grime, and a spotlight on questionable public service broadcasts across the years.

The UK and International film awards, delivered in partnership with i and Frieze, will see almost 300 short films screened in London. “The grassroots of the industry are stronger than ever and the form itself an integral vehicle for articulating identity and expressing opinion”, Philip Ilson, LSFF Artistic Director, said.

Kicking the festival off, This is a Public Service Announcement is a weekend of ‘ephemeral film’. It’s a term coined by film archivist Rick Prelinger to describe informational films that haven’t aged very well – think public service broadcasts on ‘reds-under-the-bed’, predatory homosexuals, and alarmist warnings about sex that we wish were satirical.

From Early: The Foundations of the Grime Aesthetic, will explore the genesis of London’s most popular and prolific genre, with contributions from Kano, Wiley, Ghetts, Skepta and Wretch 32.

Next, providing clippings straight from the dressing room floor of 80s and 90s drag clubs, LSFF partners with East London’s Fringe! Queer Film & Arts Fest to explore the rich and radical history of drag culture beyond what you see on mainstream TV and Instagram. It’s one night of film plucked from the archive of club kid Jeffrey Hinton, and performances from the likes of host and mutant Barbie drag queen Baby Lame, That Ray, and Drag Syndrome.

New for 2020, we’re also getting to experience Platform, a week-long strand of the fest dedicated to showcasing rising contemporary artists working across different mediums. Diana Vidrascu presents an ‘unclassifiable’ experimentation on 16mm film, while Rainer Kohlberger blurs the boundaries between AI, neuroscience, and film, followed by a Q&A. Hong Kong artist-animator Wong Ping showcases a kafkaesque dystopia straddling “the chasm between high and low-culture”.

ASMR finally makes the big screen with Peter Strickland and Figs in Wigs live collaborative piece, ASMR: Senses Working Overtime. Elsewhere in London, No Fact of Blackness is a series of films at the Regent Street Cinema that explores the black experience and the white gaze. 

If that’s not your bag, perhaps a retrospective of Blondie’s three-decade VHS mega-collection might warm your Heart-of-Glass at the ICA.

Whatever takes your fancy, this January is a good time to be a film fan.

London Short Film Festival runs January 10-19