Directed by Toby Fell-Holden
Starring Charlotte Beaumont & Genevieve Dunne
Short Film Review by Chris Olson
Cross-cultural urban drama Balcony has a huge amount of gritty prowess and fearless filmmaking. Seen as part of the Raindance Film Festival's UK Shorts Programme, it is was a standout film and something which leaves a startling aftertaste.
Told on a London council estate, teenager Tina (Charlotte Beaumont) seems fascinated with Dana (Genevieve Dunne), an Afghani girl who lives upon a higher flat and is normally only seen via her balcony. Tina manages to ingratiate herself into Dana's life, after standing up for her against some bullies. As the two become increasingly intimate friends, the violent and damaged background of one of the girls threatens to tear this blossoming friendship asunder.
Brutally gripping from start to finish, filmmaker Toby Fell-Holden proves himself to be daring and bold. This is uncompromising drama that not only represents some fantastic outsiders, but also in way that is fresh, current, and moving. The themes of this short are too many to list them all, and given the 17-minute running time, most would assume that Fell-Holden would barely scratch the surface. The reality is a coalescing short film that presents a believable and relatable story with so many elements that all compliment each other, rendering the audience inert against its powerful punch.
Look out for the very impressive performances, in particular the two leads; Beaumont and Dunne. The emotional complexity that both performers deliver is commendable. This is a tough piece to get right, especially given the harrowing subject matter, but both actors do it justice through grounded and subtle turns.
Audiences will be presented with an array of socio-economic viewpoints, and then challenged on their own morality and judgement system. It is kitchen sink at its most compelling.
Fell-Holden utilises some fantastic camerawork, in particular a sequence involving Dana's father and an angry crowd, where the camera settles on Tina's face. This was a glorious moment that revealed the often lost morality when mob mentality takes over, and the growing difficulty to make sense of an increasingly tense situation when the momentum is so violent and enraged.
Arguably my favourite short in the programme, I will certainly be looking out for more from Fell-Holden as well as the brilliant performers.