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IFL crowns the best experimental short films of 2023

  • Two-week online selection of avant-garde short films sees awards distributed for the third annual Indy Film Library Experimental Showcase
  • Catherine Forster takes Best Director for thought-provoking exploration of dementia Memory Care: The Long Goodbye
  • Iraq war short Hook picks up hat-trick of wins for Audience Choice, Best Cinematography and Best Film

Since Monday 28th August 2023, Indy Film Library (IFL) has been streaming some of the best experimental short films it has received for review over the last year. The films have been selected on the basis of both their storytelling and the technical skills exhibited by their cast and crew.

Now, as the showcase prepares to draw to a close on Monday 11th September, IFL has announced the winners from the Experimental Showcase shortlist.

The list of accolades distributed sees Best Film handed to Yasir Assim Al A’asam’s slow-burning Hook, which sees memories of a nightmarish past surface during an idyllic fishing trip in present-day Iraq. In the IFL review of the film, it was lauded for exploring the idea “however idyllic our lives may seem, just beneath the surface are the scars that we will carry with us for the rest of our days” despite being “a film of few words.”

Thanking IFL for the feedback, Yasir Assim Al A’asam said of his film, “We are full of worries here and bad memories, but we are still struggling for moments of joy.”

Hook also picked up the win for Best Cinematography, with Ali Adil receiving praise for giving “every aspect of the natural surroundings the chance to sing, from the misty shores of a cove inhabited by remote farmers, to the golden sunrise beckoning our fisher out into the river.”

This also seems to have helped the film narrowly prevail in the Audience Choice category. In the tightest vote IFL has hosted to date, Hook took first-place by a single vote.

Audience Choice runner-up Memory Care: The Long Goodbye will not end the showcase empty-handed, though. Catherine Forster was named Best Director for her work on the short, which was reviewed by IFL as “a haunting examination of a deteriorating mind and the void it leaves behind”. The feedback of her work concluded that “Forster deserves great credit for the restraint it will have taken not to offer up something more literal, while discussing such an important topic.”

Best Score was won by Isolation Terminal – an expressive dance film directed by Paula Romero. The film was soundtracked by a piece of music by DJ Yushh. The IFL review of the film noted that its production team had “used the music video category to craft something of beauty and insight”, concluding that Isolation Terminal had “even worked in terms of the ancient magic of music promotion. I am going to check out more of DJ Yushh’s work”.

Finally, Angelina Fernández‘s outlandish neo-noir Hard… BOILED!!! was awarded Best Editing. The film is shot entirely in front of a set of jarring green-screen vistas, which give the impression that “Fernández’s ‘grizzled’ private eye Gumshoe is shuffling through a living Terry Gilliam cartoon” – and the reality would usually have been a series of shots of just one person in an empty room, making the creation of any coherent plot especially tricky in editing.

IFL Chief Editor Jack Brindelli commented, “I would like to congratulate all the winners of this year’s Experimental Showcase on their victories – and to thank all the artists and viewers for their participation. It’s a privilege to present such imaginative and unapologetically strange films to our readers, helping to introduce so many people to a lot of incredible talent, which they might never otherwise have come across.”

All the films selected are still available to view for free until Monday September 11th 23:00 CET. The films can be accessed via the IFL website. Meanwhile, Indy Film Library is still open for its fifth year of submissions.


Indy Film Library

Based in Amsterdam, Indy Film Library is a film-criticism platform, which delivers insightful feedback to independent filmmakers. For regular updates for reviews, interviews, commentary and news from Indy Film Library, follow us on FacebookInstagram or Twitter.

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