Round-Up of CUFF 15: The Canterbury University Film Festival


Photo from CUFF

Cerys Thomas and Manon Charles look back on the Canterbury University Film Festival, which took place at the Gulbenkian over the weekend.


To start the festival off, Harry Taylor discussed Transgender representations in film as part of Off the CUFF, a series of talks hosted by industry professionals.

In an abandoned lecture theatre, Harry Taylor opens his discussion about Transgender representation with a screening of his film, Silent T, which recently featured at the Cannes Film Festival. Throughout, Taylor poetically imparts his experience of battling with his own gender identity. “Gender, for many, is not what it seems” Taylor clarifies at one point. The film, with the help of shocking statistics that display the rise in transphobia hate crime over the past few years, bleeds emotion as he eloquently emphasises the struggles every trans individual faces when attempting to transition into their true self in the glare of society’s inherent ignorance and transphobia.

In the Q&A that followed, Taylor interacted with the audience’s queries about his opinion of trans portrayal in film and trans representation in politics. “Representation is only going to help a movement, education is the way forward”, Taylor states. Fundamentally, the underlying note Taylor emphasised in his film and in the discussion was a call for a genuine representation and voice for the transgender community. A need for a safe space, where LGBT issues can be discussed openly, in order to stem the increased suicide rate of trans people who are oppressed by the willing mutism of a conservative society.

Following on from Taylor’s inspiring talk, a screening of the first selection of short films competing for prizes took place. The screening saw Kent, Christ Church and UCA’s finest filmmakers go head to head to win Best Short Film as well as other categories including Best Director, Best Editor and Best Animation etc. One film that stood out was It’s a Seussical Life, which reinvented Dr Seuss as a university student, burdened with the monotony of life at university, paralleled with some original Seussical images seen in his books: “Just because you’re different, doesn’t mean you’ve got to change.” Also at the screening was The Last Knife Sharpener, a documentary-style drama designed to highlight the troubles faced by hands-on, ‘traditional’ workers in trying to adapt to the constant globalisation taking place across the world: “He walks like another wandering soul.”

Text: Cerys Thomas

The Role of Women in Superhero Films: Sunday at Off the Cuff. Photo by CUFF.


After a brilliant line-up of events on Saturday, CUFF rolled out the red carpet for Sunday’s talks and awards ceremony.

After an interesting Off the CUFF talk on Slow Cinema by Emre Caglayan, the next talk shifted its focus onto the role of women in superhero films.

It was an interesting and lively talk that was constructed more as a round table discussion as opposed to a formal lecture, which meant that people were able to give their opinions and exchange ideas. The speakers, Kent’s Caleb Turner, Keeley Saunders and Alaina Schempp were very engaging and they put across their opinions in an educated manner. They used a slideshow with pictures, short clips and trailers in order to illustrate their ideas and points, drawing the audience’s attention to the unfair portrayal of women in superhero films. I came away from the session feeling inspired to change the unfair system.

After another brilliant talk on Independent Film Making with Isabella Dowden and Joshua Thorton-Allan, it was time for the second screening of short films, which included  titles such as Her Mind Cries by Max Hilton and Girl Wanderer by Dillon Beagley. Just from the talks and screenings the festival was certainly a success, but before the credits could roll on the weekend, the festival finished with the illustrious awards ceremony.

The award for Best Cinematography went to Ayo Joseph Sanusi’s Girl Wanderer and Best Editor was awarded to Broadcast, by Harrison Sommerville, but The Last Knife Sharpener was the big winner of the event, with director Ricardo Guerriro taking home the awards for Best Director and Best Short Film.

The great thing about the festival was that it gave students the accolade they deserve for all their hard work whilst also offering the opportunities to attend interesting talks and lectures on various topics within film. I thoroughly enjoyed the events offered and certainly look forward to seeing where they take it next year!

Text: Manon Charles


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