Currently we’re in the middle of the We Are One Film Festival, a free ten-day online festival that’s running exclusively on YouTube. The festival is running till the 7th June (started on the 29th May) and currently has a load of features, shorts and Q&A’s for people to watch that is co-curated by over twenty film festivals (including BFI London Film Festival and Tribeca Film Festival as examples) and even if you miss the premiere screenings, the films will remain on the page duration the festival’s run for free in order to raise funds that will benefit COVID-19 relief funds. So I’ve spent the last hour watching a few of the short films that’s available at the moment and put my reviews for them below.
DIRECTED BY: Jon Kasbe
Blood Rider is a documentary set in Lagos, Nigeria and, as it’s explained to the viewer in the opening text, the city is going through a major blood shortage crisis and with traffic being gridlocked most of the time, medical supply deliveries to transport blood could take over twenty-four hours. So the documentary focuses on one pregnant woman in particular, Deborah, and one delivery driver, Joseph, and how they will be connected in a crucial moment in Deborah’s life. At over seventeen minutes long, the documentary takes its time to follow Joseph and Deborah, as we hear Joseph telling another man that he was too late for one of his deliveries and we also see Deborah in her day to day life until she’s ready to give birth, leading to the last six minutes becoming an nail-biting race against the clock as we follow Joseph manoeuvring through the gridlocked traffic. The documentary is so well executed in its narrative, as well as the terrific editing by Jon Kasbe, Jim Hession and Federico Conforti, making everything so precisely connected, that I had to double check that this was a factual documentary and not a dramatic thriller. But factual documentary it is as Kasbe explains in a Q&A session (Which can be viewed here).
Blood Rider has an important story to tell about blood delivery drivers working against the clock in rough traffic and it’s perfectly captured by Jon Kasbe.
DIRECTED BY: Yona Rozenkier
STARRING: Varda Ben Hur, Abraham Celektar and Yoel Rozenkier
One sunny Sunday, a family from a kibbutz in north Israel takes a leisurely drive through the countryside, aware that it could be their last one together.
With a runtime of eight minutes (including credits), Parparim (or Butterflies as it’s translated as) focuses on the subject matter of old age and ones declining health and wellbeing and how it effects those around him and the way this is captured in the final moments of the film is very well executed. The butterflies in the field visual is very well done. The film is well directed by Yona Rozenkier, with some nice cinematography work by Oded Ashkenazi and the performances from the trio (Ben Hur, Celektar and Rozenkier) are well done. Personally would’ve liked a bit more, as I’m sure everyone can relate to the subject matter it’s portraying but it just lacks that emotional weight for me.
A short with some solid performances and a solid ending, just lacked the emotional weight for me in how it portrays deterioration and loss.
LOS GATOS (THE CATS)
DIRECTED BY: Alejandro Ríos
A street cat meets an old man that will change his life forever. Between bowls of milk and warm cuddles, he feels welcomed by his new owner, but the elderly gentleman has secrets of his own.
If you go in expecting a cutesy animated short to watch with your kids, I’d advise against it as this ain’t cutesy as this short is a nine minute slow-burn of something sinister going on behind the intentions of this old man taking in a street cat. After all, why has he got so many other cats in his garden? As we start to get a visual of the old man being widowed and alone, that moment hits you and from there it’s a cold, dark look into codependency and I can honestly see it dividing a lot of people in terms of how the story is told. It doesn’t help that a disclaimer is placed right at the very end of the short, whether they believed if they placed it at the start would’ve lessened the impact of that moment, it at least would’ve prepared parents and animal lovers. The animation style is interesting to look at as it has a different visual style to the big studio mode we’ve become accustomed to and it is well directed by Alejandro Ríos.
Visually appealing animation and solid directing by Alejandro Ríos, but I can see why Los Gatos will be divisive to those watching it, particularly animal lovers.