Shot entirely on an iPhone 6, Victoria Mapplebeck’s story began a decade ago when she relegated a Nokia 8310 to the back of her kitchen drawer, an elephant’s graveyard where old mobiles go to die.
As she was scrolling through the inbox before she laid it to rest, she realised she had unwittingly archived a three year text message dialogue with an ex partner.
Her texts began, ‘I had a great time last night’ and ended, ‘Have you got the results yet?’ When her ex partner requested a paternity test when their son was two. His texts began, ‘Loved meeting u’ and ended, ‘Yes, I got the results…I’m moving to Spain..’.
160 Characters begins with a personal story, but it also tells a universal story, one in which ‘we increasingly expect more from technology and less from each other’.
When 160 Characters launched on Short of the Week it received a Vimeo Staff Pick within twenty four hours. It has since received over 7000,000 online hits. In 2017, 160 Characters premiered at Picturehouse cinemas across London.
In 160 Characters the director relives the ups and downs of her relationship with an ex, retold through old messages stored within a dormant Nokia. There’s obvious interest from the concept itself, but it’s Mapplebeck’s touches that elevate this to a higher level. Light touches such as the changes in sign-offs in texts, which highlight how the relationship has changed. It’s clever, wise and raw.
It’s impossible to not be moved by the shifts in feeling, and the empty space that the director creates between the messages of the partners…As a factual retelling of old texts there’s a certain baseline of facts that cannot be shifted, so it’s the director’s work in constructing the narrative that makes it all gel beautifully…Mapplebeck has delivered a stunning piece of work, and her unending love for her son is self-evident throughout.
Technically simple, but conceptually brilliant, Victoria Mapplebeck’s 160 Characters is a stellar example of creative storytelling
160 Characters was officially selected for the 2015 BFI London Film Festival, The 2017 London Short Film Festival , Last of England in Rouen and The Copa Short Film Festival in Arizona and The Standing Rock International Shorts Festival.
Short listed for the Innovation category of the 2016 AHRC Research in Film Awards
Winner of the Juried Prize Award for Best Short Film – The Standing Rock International Shorts Festival – Ohio – 2016
Winner of the Best Documentary Award at the 2017 Short of the Week 2017 Film Awards.