Unlimited: Oska Bright Film Festival on tour

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Oska Bright Film Festival – Kate Lovell caught the sublimely surreal shorts at this year’s Unlimited Festival at Southbank Centre

a cartoon character holds up a glass of wine in a restaurant

Whinstor Norville by Eric Bent nominated for the award of Best Animation was shown as part of the Oska Bright showcase

Food leaping off plates and eating the diners. A fish swimming its way to fame in Clam Vegas. A music video about the annoying and cloying smell of cocoa butter. These are a few morsels from the Oska Bright Film Festival on tour, eliciting a grin as toothy as the on-screen cartoon critters.

Run by Brighton-based arts organisation Carousel, the festival is curated and created by film-makers with a learning disability, and showcases shorts which have been submitted by artists from across the globe. This world-wide reach makes the festival fantastically diverse in content and of a high artistic standard.

The collections shown vary slightly from venue to venue, and at Unlimited we were treated to a smorgasbord of surreal animations and zany music videos. A stand-out animation is Whinstor Norville, the story of an uptight food critic visiting a restaurant alive with gourmet grub that noshes down on its less-than-happy eaters, rather than the more traditional other way around.

A straightforward idea, of our food getting its revenge on us greedy humans, which is executed with fabulous playfulness and wacky humour. Simplicity and boldness of concept are what make the cartoon shorts so satisfying to watch. The range of animation styles is also exciting, ranging from Manga-inspired animals coloured in garish pastels, to stop-motion horses on the run from the circus, along with Lego men living in disharmony as feuding neighbours.

Kairo by Barnet 16 and Aron Krause features a camel journey

Kairo by Barnet 16 and Aron Krause features a camel journey

The music videos are also a raucous romp. The Europop wonder Kairo is inspired by the filmmakers’ desire to travel to Cairo itself to film, but due to lack of funds, instead they “got a camel and drove to the Baltic sea.”

There’s a sharp poignancy to Soldiering On, a song which explores the story of a disabled man who wants to fight on the front with his friends, but is rejected from the army because of his impairment. It raises the question, who decides who is ‘fit’ to fight? And how would it feel to be told you cannot serve alongside your friends because you are a disabled person? Being moved to consider a human rights-based conundrum in the same sitting as enjoying a signed song about a sweet-smelling moisturiser speaks to the miscellany on offer, which is the festival’s huge strength.

The originality of the shorts is striking, and absolutely reinforces the importance to the arts world of diverse people making work that can be seen by a wide audience. If an artist sees the world differently, the work they make speaks with a delightfully shiny new voice. It is this freshness and lack of self-consciousness that means the hour of Oska Bright on tour is riotous and joyful to behold.

The full tour schedule for Oska Bright can be found on Carousel’s website. Between September and December, the festival will visit London, Bristol, Nottingham, Stockton, Manchester, Cardiff and Brighton.

The Oska Bright Film Festival is biannual, and submissions are open for 2017’s festival, find out more about how to enter a film on Carousel’s submissions page.