SHAKESPEARIAN actor and director Kenneth Branagh has praised the winners of this year’s Shakespeare Shorts competition.
The annual competition, organised by Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, was held online this year.
The overall winner, selected from nearly 200 entries, was the short film Romeo and Juliet, directed by Shalimova Julia.
Sir Kenneth said the film, which won the category ‘Best Shakespeare themed animation’, ‘just about nabbed the glittering prize’ given the ‘impressive’ competition.
He commented: “It is witty, imaginative and subversive. It puts a smile on your face, encourages you to believe that you will know what happens next, and how this treatment will present it, and then it really surprises you by doing things differently.
“Perhaps its major achievement is to make Shakespeare seem such fun – it is of course – but we don’t always feel that. There is a permanent smile on the face through this retro festival that glories in the games from which it springs, the classic whose story it sweetly unfolds, and in – no other word for it – the ‘joy’ of the form.
“Brevity is the soul of its wit. A small, perfectly formed gem.”
The other winning entries included Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now, Horatio directed by Keeghan vanderWater, commended as the ‘best interpretation of a passage from Shakespeare’.
Sir Kenneth described the characters as ‘interwoven with a real sense of underlying melancholy’ despite its high energy club scenes.
And the ‘best film inspired by Shakespeare’ category was won by Steven Fox’s ‘Out Spot!’.
The actor praised the Macbeth themed short for its bold images and striking colour palette.
He added: “The relish for a gothic psychology underlying this murderous nightmare is wonderfully explored. It’s another visually striking, beautifully integrated account in miniature, of the play’s ferocious energy.
“Performances of urgent intensity light up the film like the garish grab of the spectacular exteriors. A Shakespeare short that catches you by the throat and does not let go.”
Visit www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespeare-shorts/winners to watch the films.