Currently we’re in the final day of the We Are One Film Festival, a free ten-day online festival that’s running exclusively on YouTube. The festival 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, they’re more likely gone now (especially the majority I’ve reviewed so far) but plenty still remain on the page during the festival’s run as they continue 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.
UNTITLED (LETTER TO SERRA)
DIRECTED BY: Lisandro Alonso
STARRING: Misael Saavedra, Laureno Alonso, Estela Carra and Fabián Casas
Lisandro Alonso returned to the location of his feature debut La Libertad and reunited with its lead, Misael Saavedra, for this alluringly dreamy piece in which the camera itself seems entranced as it surveys the landscape and looks ahead to Alonso’s future work.
Untitled (Letter to Serra) initially focuses on a camouflaged-clothed hunter out in the woods, as the camera follows him around stalking his prey. We then get to see another character in the woods with his dogs and then you feel a sudden sense of tension as you believe he is the one being hunted. It’s shot well but the the short felt like I was missing something completely, especially in the last four-five minutes of this twenty-three minute runtime, and judging by the synopsis, it feels like I should see Alonso’s previous work because this came across as too experimental for my tastes.
Well shot short by Lisandro Alonso, nothing more, nothing less.
DIRECTED BY: Maxim Bessmertny
STARRING: Kelsey Wilhelm, Ricardo Brito, Mei leng Leong, João Guedes, Chan Hin lo, Tam Mei Heng, Andy Pang, Sam Mei Kun and Chu Hang
Mishaps abound when two millennials abroad in Macau try to get rid of an old washing machine.
This directorial short by Maxim Bessmertney focuses on Ethan and Richard, who share accommodation in Macau, with the pair trying to figure out how they can get rid of their old washing machine R3D2. The two leads, Kelsey Wilhelm and Ricardo Brito, have solid chemistry onscreen as we witness them struggling to make ends meet abroad but are still dreaming of making their mark in a foreign land. There’s some nice shots of their surrounds as they stroll through the city with the washing machine, with some solid direction by Maxim Bessmertny and some nice cinematography by Antonio Salas Sanmarful. While not hilariously entertaining (though from what I’ve seen in the comedic shorts at We Are One Film Festival, there just not hitting the spot for me), it passes the time and it’s a breeze with its ten minute runtime.
Decent comedy short with some nice visuals and good chemistry between the leads.
DIRECTED BY: Jenny Wan
STARRING: Tsang Man Wei and Lam Yau Hin
A taxi driver on the verge of losing his home shares a fleeting connection with an isolated foreign student.
Written and directed by Jenny Wan, Lonely Encounter tells the story of two men from different sides of life, taxi driver Keung and art student Hei, sharing a connection during a taxi journey during the night of Winter Solstice, a night traditionally meant to be celebrated with family, and the talk share their reasons for not being with family. The short takes its time to show us the characters we’ll be following before they appear onscreen together in the taxi during the twenty-three minute runtime. Hei is estranged from his family in Macau and we see him trying to get in contact with someone, anyone, to be with on this night and yet, no joy, leading him to having to hail a taxi down to go back to college. Whilst Hei is realising how alone he feels in the city, taxi driver Keung is coming to terms with how empty his life feels by working constantly, even on the night of Winter Solstice, and he’s trying to understand why Hei would move from Macau to Hong Kong in order to study. This short marks Jenny Wan’s directorial debut and definitely one to keep an eye on as there’s some lovely direction in how she frames the sequences before having the few one-take shots of Hei and Keung talking during the taxi journey and these scenes are further complimented by Michael Tang’s cinematography and the score (who it’s by I’m unaware). While the performances amongst the co-leads, Tsang Man Wei and Lam Yau Hin, are good, the story itself, particularly during the last seven minutes of the short, feel too manipulative and forced to make you feel emotional about it. Minor issue would be that some of the subtitles in the first half of the short are difficult to read due to the visual settings that they are placed in, such as the dining table that has a white tablecloth.
A nice little short that’s really good technically, but the story feels too manipulative and not organic enough to make me feel anything in the end. However, it’s an interesting directorial debut by Jenny Wan.