The Corn Hall unlocks with an evening celebrating local talent

As the Corn Hall tentatively awakens from its lockdown slumber it is only fitting that it should make use of this opening night (albeit online) to showcase local talent. Mentored by the Corn Hall’s ActNow! programme, nine young people have produced twelve short films under the most challenging of lockdown conditions, and they are being shown publicly for the first time on Wednesday 31st March.

Inevitably, some of the filmmakers have chosen to confront the pandemic head on. Matt Kirkum’s elegiac circumspection contrasts starkly with Lucy Bernard’s spell-binding collage of found audio. Amy Adshead focuses on hope as much as frustration, highlighting the shared wonder of seeing a world quietened. Each of them have demonstrated accomplished editing skills, creating distinctive variations on a common theme.

Other filmmakers seem to have been informed by the pandemic, albeit obliquely. Eloise Whittaker’s Ivy examines a frail personality with startling candour, and while mental health is a perennial concern, the current pressures on the young make it particularly prescient. So too is Mea Eagle’s condemnation of the pressures of social media, the prism through which we see the world at the moment.

It’s not all gloom and introspection, however. Rebecca Mace’s audacious monologue wittily exposes teenage angst and will inevitably divide audience sympathies. There is outright comedy in a character study from Shannon Pilsworth that is reminiscent of Victoria Wood. And there is straightforward intrigue in Eloise Trett’s engaging Connection.

Top and tailing the evening is work from the prodigious Hugh Darrah, who provides a punchy start and rounds things off with a joyous celebration of puffins that is worth the price of admission alone. Darrah also takes us bike riding and for a walk along the coast, providing a welcome sorbet to the challenging material his films rub shoulders with.

After the screening, there will be a chance to chat to all the film makers, when their virtual audience will be able to ask technical questions about filming under lockdown, what plans they have for the future, or to simply congratulate them on a job well done in such trying circumstances.