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 time watching a few of the short films that’s available at the moment and put my reviews for them below.
DIRECTED BY: Britt Lower
STARRING: Britt Lower, Philip Smithey and Jess Marks
Inspired by the woman her fiancé fell in love with, a grieving painter joins a one-ring circus to reclaim her forgotten wildness.
Circus Person is directed by Britt Lower, which also marks her directorial debut. The film opens with Ava learning that her fiancé is leaving her to be with another woman. From there, the seventeen-minute short looks at the meaning of going through a break-up and how it appears that Ava becomes fascinated with the woman that her partner left her for, Luna. Circus Person is an interesting look from an individual perspective of a breakup and while it comes across as a spoken letter to Luna, it becomes more of a message of self-recognition and valuing what you are worth as in the end we witness how free Ava feels. There’s some pretty interesting creative choices showcased here, with some good direction by Lower in the opening scenes, the visualised stop-motion style storytelling at certain moments, the cinematography by Alexandre Naufel is really good and the score by Jason Lesser is really nice.
A nice note of overcoming a love that’s not reciprocated by installing it back into yourself.
NO ONE LEFT BEHIND
DIRECTED BY: Guillermo Arriaga
STARRING: Isabel Aerenlund, Danny Huston and Jorge A. Jimenez
A group of American soldiers travels to Mexico for an unknown mission. When they arrive, a surprising world drives them to rethink the ties that bind their nations.
No One Left Behind is written and directed by Guillermo Arriaga, known for writing the screenplays of such Alejandro González Iñárritu films Amores Perros, 21 Grams and Babel. We follow a group of American soldiers travelling to Mexico to collect the body of their fellow soldier that passed away. The thing is however, we learn that the Mexican-American solider was deported and committed suicide and while they hope to repatriate the body, his family want him to be buried near them. With its premise and setup, there’s a lot of interesting conversation pieces that No One Left Behind could tackle here, what are we fighting for? What about immigration? Relations between US-Mexican citizens? And while there’s a lot of questions, you will feel short-changed on the answers as the film gently raises awareness to them but not creating dialogue to discuss it, leaving the film feeling empty and hallow by focusing in the end of military brotherhood. The cinematography from Adrian Teijido is good throughout.
While it has a good setup, No One Left Behind just feels empty and pretty much reminds you of the ‘what are we fighting for?’ army films of the mid-to-late-2000’s.
LE COUP DES LARMES (THE TEARS THING)
DIRECTED BY: Clémence Poésy
STARRING: India Hair, Sabine Timoteo, Pierre Lopez, Eric Forestier and Ava Hervier
Well known for her role as Fleur Delacour in the Harry Potter films, as well as appearing in In Bruges and The Tunnel, Le Coup des larmes (aka The Tears Thing) marks the third directorial short of Clémence Poésy. The film focuses on actress Florence Parady, who is sent to a remote shooting range to learn how to hold and use a weapon in preparation for her role in an upcoming film as a assassin. To her surprise however, her instructor is old flame Sacha, who unexpectedly walked out on her a few years ago. As the training session begins, old feeling start to surface as well as reopening some wounds. I’ve never seen either of Poésy’s previous shorts, but from what I’ve seen from The Tears Thing, she definitely has an eye for direction and how she frames the characters on screen, with the film going for the less is more approach in focusing on what is slightly said and the manner in which it’s expressed (shooting session is not the best setting to air your grievances), rather than spending the entire duration having them talk it out verbally. India Hair and Sabine Timoteo are great in their roles as Florence and Sacha respectively, their chemistry together shines through the scene and the films final moments are very effective.
The Tears Thing builds up slowly and packs a punch with its final scenes that elevated by Poèsy’s direction and Hair and Timoteo’s performances.