Currently we’re in the middle of the final day of We Are One Film Festival, a free ten-day online festival that’s running exclusively on YouTube. The festival 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: Dustin Guy Defa
STARRING: Bingham Bryant, Lindsay Burdge, Hannah Gross, Stephen Gurewitz, Agostina Gálvez, Jennifer Kim, Elisa Lasowski and Keith Poulson
Written and directed by Dustin Guy Defa, this nine minute short looking a few actresses being given micro-adjustments by their male director between takes. It’s a very meta-short by Defa, which creates some interesting discussions from the environment that actresses have to work in, particularly in how some of then just make you feel uncomfortable watching, such as the first actresses not sounding American enough in how she delivers a line and another being slapped by a fellow actor, believing ‘that’s what my character would do’.
It’s a well directed short by Dustin Guy Defa that I could easily have gone another ten-twenty minutes watching.
PELOURINHO, THEY DON’T REALLY CARE ABOUT US
DIRECTED BY: Akosua Adoma Owusu
Directed by Akosua Adoma Oswusu, Pelourinho, They Don’t Really Care About Us is a nine minute documentary short that has a voiceover read out the letter from human rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois sent to the U.S embassy in Brazil back in 1927, where it was impossible for African Americans to travel to Brazil, even asking them to define the word ‘Negro’, and also reading out the response that he received to this letter. Whilst showing the neighbourhood, in the last few minutes of Spike Lee’s music video for Michael Jackson’s ‘They Don’t Care About Us’ and having that line repeated by a few civilians in the city as, after all, even with Jackson turning up in the city and a making a music video to a ‘protest’ song, what was it really worth in the end? There’s a lot of layers to the documentary, especially in the history it’s trying to cover and while it’s important informative, I could’ve done with more. The use of the super-eight footage is well done, some of the colour-grading not so much.
Pelourinho, They Don’t Really Care About Us has an important message to tell, I just wish there was more of it to digest.
FOREVER’S GONNA START TONIGHT
DIRECTED BY: Eliza Hittman
STARRING: Viktoria Vinyarska, Nina Medvinskaya, Andrey Drozdov and Fedor Filonov
The short follows a 17-year-old Russian teenager as she escapes the close-quarters tension of her home into a Brooklyn night charged with freedom and desire.
Forever’s Gonna Start Tonight is the coming-of-age style short by Eliza Hittman, whose in the spotlight recently for the critical praise of her feature film Never Rarely Sometimes Always, that focuses on a Russian teenager named Sonya, who lives in a cramped apartment with her father in Brooklyn. With their Landlady threatening to evict them due to her father bringing more and more cats into their apartment, Sonya is forced to make an unimaginable decision in order to protect her and her ageing father. There’s some interesting moments in how Hittman works the camera, particularly when we see Sonya meet up with her friend Sveta to go clubbing , the intimacy of the close-ups as they meet two men at they spend the night with that get creepier every second they appear onscreen and it’s the fact that it feels as familiar as you’d expect it to go makes it all the more comfortable. Not a big fan of the ending however.
Some good direction by Hittman and good cinematography by Smokey Nelson, ending kind of lets it all down for me.