As all adolescents begin to go through that awkward time when they discover the role of their own bodies, and those of the opposite sex, in their burgeoning development through life’s disorientating highways, stories of unexpected discoveries and enduring embarrassment are bound to be rife. Tapping into this universal experience and turning into an always captivating, often uncomfortable watch is British director Simon Ellis, returning to Short of the Week for a second time with Jam Today, a coming-of-age tale set on the rivers of leafy England.
Ellis’ previous short Soft won worldwide acclaim for its unforgettable and unsettling narrative (it’s a film I’ve never been able to get out of out my head) and whilst Jam Today doesn’t quite have the same impact (not many shorts do), it still feels like a film that will live with you for some time after watching. Initially, feeling like a coming-of-age tale focused on sexual awakening, by the time Jam Today concludes, with its penultimate “climatic” scene, swiftly followed by an awkward breakfast the morning after, you really start to notice the common themes between this and the aforementioned short. Where both initially seem to focus on a young boy struggling to find his own identity, they quickly morph into stories examining the role of the parent and how a child’s idealistic view of them can begin to alter as they mature. As we were all children once and may be parents someday (or already are), Ellis’ themes are universally relatable and because of this, the discomfort you will undoubtedly feel watching his work is one of the things that makes it so memorable.A director who loves the short format because of the freedom it allows, since completing Jam Today Ellis has continued to work in the realms of succinct storytelling with another narrative short, Stew & Punch, having toured festivals and a further three doc shorts added to his ever-expanding back catalogue (check Simon’s website below for more details).