We Are One Film Festival Short Reviews: L’Heure de L’Ours, The Distance Between Us And The Sky And White Echo


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.

 

L’HEURE DE L’OURS (AND THEN THE BEAR)

DIRECTED BY: Agnès Patron

 

SYNOPSIS

When a boy’s close bond with his mother is imperiled one night by the arrival of a mysterious stranger, matters of nature and nurture collide.

 

L’Heure de L’Ours (also known as And Then The Bear) is a visually striking animated short by Agnès Patron, with the chalk drawing style animation being appealing in how it projects the movement of the characters, a particular piece of animation to be is when the child is stroking at the mother’s hair. Being dialogue-free, the animation relies heavily on the music to set the tone and I thought Pierre Oberkampf’s score captured that well. As the film is dialogue-free, there’s alot of imagery here that leaves the short open to various interpretations and I took it how even a small moment of neglect (failing to even look down at the boy tugging at her dress once the strange man arrives) builds up to a moment of rebellion and the bear becomes a manifestation of that, but then again I could be reading into that completely wrong.

 

VERDICT

I can see why there will be many people that will love this short, as the chalk animation style is visually appealing to watch but for me, I’m still pondering whether I got it or not. 

 

THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US AND THE SKY

DIRECTED BY: Vasillis Kekatos

STARRING: Ioko Ioannis Kotidis and Nikos Zeginoglou

 

SYNOPSIS

Two strangers meet for the first time at an old gas station. One has stopped to gas up his bike, while the other is just stranded. Lacking money to get home, he will try to sell him the distance that separates them from the sky.

 

The first minute or two of this nine minute short gives us the setup of one man stranded at a gas station, looking to get to Athens to meet his hookup in the city but needs to money to get a bus back. Enter another man refuelling his bike, leading to the two strangers interacting and from the moment one asks to borrow €20, we witness a verbal dance of interrogation and intimacy that is beautifully captured by Vasillis and cinematographer Giorgos Valsamis, especially in the way they use the close shots to really intensify the intimacy between the two of them and that cigarette scene will be discussed quite a lot by those that see this short. The performances from Ioko Ioannis Kotidis and Nikos Zeginoglou are great (Kotidis in particular for me), their chemistry and the way they deliver the dialogue feels so organic. After doing some digging I see that this short won the Queer Palm and Palme d’Or in the short film categories at the Cannes Film Festival last year and I can definitely see why.

 

VERDICT

At nine minutes long, The Distance Between Us And The Sky makes a memorable impression with its terrific direction and stunning performances from Ioko Ioannis Kotidis and Nikos Zeginoglou.

★★½

 

WHITE ECHO

DIRECTED BY: Chloë Sevigny

STARRING: Hailey Gates, Kate Lyn Sheil, Sheila Vand, Alison Sudol and Eleonore Hendricks

 

SYNOPSIS

Five women in their thirties examine their own power in life.

 

White Echo is the third directorial short by Chloë Sevigny, focusing on five women that are on vacation in a remote country house, with Carla being fascinated by the history of the house, particularly a presence that she feels exists there, leading her looking to communicate with it and the group take part in a séance using an Ouija board to bring the spirit forward. It’s an interesting contemporary short that has a gothic feel, with some solid direction from Sevigny and cinematography by Max Goldman. While I found the performances amongst the cast to be find, it’s the overall execution of the story that I couldn’t really latch on to, as Sevigny makes some creative choices that don’t particularly work for me, from the the dance scene outside to the short’s final moment.

 

VERDICT

White Echo had potential and while some might enjoy it’s slow-burning unease and symbolism, but for me I couldn’t get gripped by it. 

★★

 

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