MedFest: The National Medical Film Festival

Posted on May 12, 2011. Filed under: Movies to see before you die, Reviews | Tags: , , , , |

Before Christmas, I wrote a series of posts under the heading Medics in the Movies as I went through an elective module on the presentation of doctors in film.  A few days ago, I found out that my tutor from that course, along with a panel of those in the know would be leading a discussion on the public perception of medicine and the impact of the media, including the screening of three short films.

It was a fantastic evening (I’ve literally just got back) and I really enjoyed the discussion both during and afterwards, which included a brief chat with up and coming director and ex-UCL student Mat Whitecross.

What I really took away from the evening though, was one amazing short film, which I’m going to share with you.

Shadowscan was written and directed by Tinge Krishnan and stars Shobna Gulati and Paul Bazely, telling the story of two Junior Doctors on call.  What follows is ten harrowing minutes of two people struggling to cope, in the ultimate example of the doctor becoming the patient; the healer being sick.

It won the Best Short Film BAFTA in 2001 and it’s easy to see why. From the very outset it’s clear the meticulous detail that went into the making of this film. The use of sound at beginning and end is so perfect you barely even notice it, the colour is a sort of bilious greeny-yellow that makes everything on screen seem sickly and the jerky camera movements and extreme close-ups hammer home the feelings of claustrophobia and paranoia. The drowning metaphor is genius.

It’s a powerful piece of cinema, with great performances and a beautifully simple story that is all the more poignant because of its simplicity.  Although the presentation is very surrealist, the message is terrifyingly real.  Krishnan is an ex-doctor, and the dedication “to fallen comrades,” leaves a nasty aftertaste of truth in what could be dismissed as a nightmarish fantasy. (Note: there’s a bit of text and sound missing from the YouTube version.)

It might not be easy to watch, but Shadowscan is one of the best made films, (not just short films) I’ve seen in a long time. And I’m glad that someone drew my attention to it. I hope you appreciate me returning the favour.

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