An Analysis of the Cinema of Short Films
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"Film as dream, film as music. No form of art goes beyond ordinary consciousness as film does, straight to our emotions, deep into the twilight room of the soul."
- Ingmar Bergman
Cinema is one of the few mediums which have managed to successfully depict the true reality of society in general and our lives in particular. As like other art forms, it depicts the multiple realties that one is faced with. It explores one of the most discarded yet eternal truths which every individual experiences and that is isolation. Each individual longs for social ties despite belonging to organized societies; it is what each one of us is ultimately reduced to.
A Short film is a technical description originally coined in the Indian film industry and used in the North American film industry in the early period of cinema. The description is now used almost interchangeably with short subject.
Although the North American definition generally refers to films between 20 and 40 minutes, the definition refers to much shorter films in Europe,Latin America and Australasia. InNew Zealand, for instance, the description can be used to describe any film that has duration longer than one minute and shorter than 15 minutes. The North American definition also tends to focus much more on character whereas the European and Australasian forms tend to depend much more on visual drama and plot twists. In this way, the North American form can be understood to be a derivation of the feature film form, usually acting as a platform for aspirant Hollywood directors. Elsewhere, short films tend to work as showcases for cinematographers and commercial directors. (Short Film)
A short film manages to tell the same tale as a full length feature film, but in a shorter duration of time. It is characterized by the director's reflection of the existing social, political and economic conditions. A short film narrative is one which can easily be created by people from all walks of life, it has universal applicability. It enables directors functioning on a small budget to tell their stories to the world. The talent in creating a short film lies in communicating the message of the film to the audience in a very limited period of time. The transitions in a short film are of critical importance. What I find intriguing is how any person imbibes from their existing social conditions and produce work which is effectively communicable to most individuals.
Another reason to dwell into this topic of research is that many youngsters and amateurs start by making short films and use it as a path to grow. As Daniel Wiernicki states, 'Short films are often popular as first steps into the film industry among young filmmakers. This is because they are cheaper and easier to make, and also their length makes shorts more likely to be watched by financial backers and others who want some demonstration of a filmmaker's ability. Many things can be achieved by creating a short film so are an ideal opportunity to get recognized and get into the industry.' (Wiernicki)
Through this dissertation, I aim to explore the world of short films in the context of movies which have won the Cannes Short Film Palme d'Or(French:Palme d'Or du court mÃ©trage), which is the highest prize given to a short film at the Cannes Film Festival. These short films are a representation of different cultures, ideologies, people, religion, economic background, and political thoughts and history from across the world that come together on one platform and showcase their art.
"The cinema is not an art which films life: the cinema is something between art and life. Unlike painting and literature, the cinema both gives to life and takes from it, and I try to render this concept in my films. Literature and painting both exist as art from the very start; the cinema doesn't."
- Jean- Luc Godard
Throughout our history, humans have looked for different forms of expressing themselves. These expressions were in the form of poetry, literature, songs, plays, dancing, etc. films are one of the latest forms of expression that has been adopted by the people around the world to portray their views on their surroundings, any event, or moment that captivates them and they want to show it to the world. The beauty of the films nowadays is that you can detract from reality and present something beyond the human imagination at the same time one can present the harsh realities of life that some don't know about. Films as a medium of communications can be used to spread ones message or view across the world.
History of Cinema (History of Film)
The birth of the films happened in 1878, when Eadweard Muybridge recorded a horse running in fast motion using a series of 24 stereoscopic cameras. With the development of technology came of the 'Silent era'. Till the 1920s movies were silent, though at times they were accompanied by musicians, sound effects, or even commentary at times.
1940s to 60s- War and Post War Cinema
The wartime saw immense change in the cinema as more focus was given to propaganda and patriotic films. Films like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Citizen Cane were pieces of this period.
The cold war era brought movies filled with paranoia such as - Invading Armies of Evil Aliens and anti-communist movies such as the Manchurian Candidate. The onset of television in the post war era also threatened the cinematic industry as a medium of watching films.
During this Period, Asian Cinema specifically saw a golden age. Some of the greatest masterpieces of the Asian cinema were produced during this period. These include works like: Yasujiro Ozu'sTokyo Story(1953),Satyajit Ray'sThe Apu Trilogy(1955-1959) andThe Music Room(1958),Kenji Mizoguchi'sUgetsu(1954) andSansho the Bailiff(1954),Raj Kapoor'sAwaara(1951),Mikio Naruse'sFloating Clouds(1955),Guru Dutt'sPyaasa(1957) andKaagaz Ke Phool(1959), and theAkira Kurosawa films Rashomon (1950), Ikiru(1952),Seven Samurai(1954) andThrone of Blood(1957).
1970s: Post-classical cinema
This term is used to describe the period following the decline of the studio system during the 1950s and 1960s and the end of the production code. During the 1970s, filmmakers increasingly depicted explicit sexual content and showed gunfight and battle scenes that included graphic images of bloody deaths.
The 1980s were filled with movies releasing with sequels like Star Wars, Jaws, and Indiana Jones. The audience also started to watch movies on their VCR at home during this period.
1990s to present: Contemporary Cinema
The 1990s saw the development of the independent cinema with commercial success. Special effects also ruled during this period as it was being heavily used by the successful movies of the period like: Terminator 2: Judgment Day(1991) andTitanic(1997).
During the 2000s, documentary genre of film making also rose as can be seen with the success of movies such as March of the Penguins, and Fahrenheit 9/11. Increase in the problem of digital distribution due to infringement of copyrights, and piracy also has reached heights during this period.
Cinema as a whole during this decade has become more global with foreign-language films gaining popularity in English-speaking markets. Films such as City of Gods (Portugese), Lagaan (Hindi), and the Passion of the Christ (Aramaic).
'Some have described the prevailing style of the period as post modern because many contemporary films are apolitical, ahistorical, intertextual, and less tied to the conventions of a single genre or culture. The transnational circulation and genre hybridity of contemporary films is exemplified by the increasing global popularity of non- English speaking cinema.' (Film Studies, 2009)
Major Genres of Films:
They are broad enough to accommodate practically any film ever made, although film categories can never be precise. By isolating the various elements in a film and categorizing them in genres, it is possible to easily evaluate a film within its genre and allow for meaningful comparisons and some judgments on greatness. Films were not really subjected to genre analysis by film historians until the 1970s. All films have at least one major genre, although there are a number of films that are considered crossbreeds or hybrids with three or four overlapping genre (orsub-genre) types that identify them. (Dirks)
Genres in cinema can broadly be categorized under the following classifications:
Theme or topic
HISTORY OF SHORT FILMS
'Short subject' a name initially given to Short Films came into existence in the 1910s when the majority of the feature movies were being made into loner run-time editions. The name 'short subject' is an American film industry term, which was assigned to any film within 20 minutes long or running two reels. Short subject films could be comedy, animated, or live action. One of the best known users of short subject was Laurel and Hardy and Charlie Chaplin.
In 1930s came the slowdown of the short subjects, basically produced by Warner Bros and Famous studios that owned their own theatres to showcase the films. By 1995s, the rise of television led to the strangulation of the live action- short and at the same time the fall cartoon short. Since the 1960s, majority of the directors of short films have been special studio projects or independent film makers.
Since the 1980s, short film term was being used for short subject. Short film as a term describes the non- commercial film that is much shorter in time length than a feature film/ an analogy that can be drawn for short film to a feature film is that of a novella and a novel.
The short filmmakers heavily depend on the short film festivals and art exhibitions to showcase their short films. At the same time, these film makers have more freedom to take up more difficult topics than normal feature films as the risks are lower. Short film making is now a growing as more and more amateurs, students, common man, and enthusiasts are taking this up because of the affordability of the technology to make such films. At the same time one can showcase his work to the world by uploading it on web portals and sharing it with others. It is an area where people are turning to as a hobby, as an art, to achieve their form expressions. (Wiernicki)
THE SHORT FILM FESTIVALS
Festival de Cannes
"The Festival is an apolitical no-man's-land, a microcosm of what the world would be like if people could contact each other directly and speak the same language."
- Jean Cocteau
Being first large international cultural event after the World War II, the Festival de Cannes opened on 20th September, 1946. The Palme d'Or was created in 1955. Palme d'Or became the enduring symbol of the Cannes Film Festival, awarded each and every year since to the director of the Best Feature Film of the Official Competition.
At present, Festival de Cannes invites film makers from around the world to present their work in one place and exchange cultural experiences. The selections for the awards are done from a nomination of films from all over the world, from different socio-economic backgrounds, different cultures, and different historical backgrounds.
Cannes offers an opportunity to determine a particular country's image of its cinema. Festival de Cannes is a melting pot of global cinema and filmmakers. This is the reason why I have undertaken the study of the award winning short films at festival de Cannes.
Oscar Short Film Awards
TheAcademy Awards, also known as theOscars, are presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences(AMPAS). The AMPAS recognizes the excellence of professionals in the film industry, including directors, actors, and writers. The1st Academy Awards ceremony was held Thursday, May 16, 1929, at the Hotel RooseveltinHollywoodto honor outstanding film achievements of 1927 and 1928. Since 2002, the awards have been broadcast from the Kodak Theatre.
The formal ceremony at which the awards are presented is one of the most prominent award ceremonies in the world. It is also the oldest award ceremony in the media, and many other award ceremonies such as theGrammy Awards(for music), Golden Globe Awards(all forms of visual media), and Emmy Awards(for television) are often modeled from the Academy.
The Oscar Award is given to Short Films with entries from across the world due its prestige involved with the award. The Oscar Awards are given to Short Films in three categories within the Short Film category. These categories are:
Best Animated Short Film Award
Best Documentary Short Subject Award
Best Live Action Short Film
Sundance Film Festival
TheSundance Film Festival takes place annually in the state of Utah, in theUnited States. It is the largest independent cinema festival in the U.S.Held every year in January inPark City, Salt Lake City, and Ogden, as well as theSundance Resort, the festival is the premier showcase for the new work of arts from across the world of independent filmmakers. The festival comprises of competitive sections for world over dramatic and documentary films, both feature-length films and short films, and a group of non-competitive showcase sections.
Initially the Festival was a low- profile venue for small-budget, independent directors from outside the Hollywood. Now it has changed to a media extravaganza for Hollywood celebrity actors, directors, and luxury lounges set up by companies that are not affiliated with Sundance. The Sundance Festival has tried to change these activities in recent times, beginning from 2007 with their "Focus on Film" campaign.
From 2009 onwards some changes were made to the Sundance Film Festival. Some of the changes made include: a new programming category called "NEXT" for extremely low-budget films, and the Sundance Film Festival U.S.A. program, in which eight of the festivals films will be shown in eight theaters around the country, a very good initiative as more people will get access to the films that only few selected audience gets.
Sundance over time has shown is credibility as being the international festival for feature length and short- films. It is now recognized the world over as one of the important festivals to look for each year. It still has a long way to go till it reaches the level of Cannes Film Festival and Oscars.
Aspen Filmfest began in 1979 in Aspen, Colorado, USA. The Aspen Film organizes a major movie event every season, contributing to an extensive education program, and hosts of numerous special presentations. Each year, some 30,000 people participate in this festival.
Aspen Filmfest believes in the philosophy of striving to enlighten, enrich, educate, and entertain audience through the films. Aspen Filmfest is known for its commitment to original content. They screen more than 200 films each year, which are regional debuts and might not be available to the local audiences.
The Aspen short film festival receives entry not only from US but from world over. There is also a special award given in collaboration with BAFTA/ LA giving it affiliation with BAFTA awards and also credibility but with the American perspective added to it.
Looking at the current literature review, we see that there is a knowledge gap regarding the study of Short Films in the contemporary cinema as a communication medium. This subject requires an in-depth analysis and more research to come up with some perspectives in this area.
1. To analyze the 'Form' of award winning Short Films taken from a randomized selection, from contemporary cinema (last ten years), from Short Film Festivals held between 2000- 2009: Cannes Palme d'Or du court mÃ©trage, Oscar Short Film Award, Aspen Filmfest Award, and Sundance Short Film Awards, and analyse the form of Short films.
2. To analyse the 'Content' of the award winning Short Films in context of political, sociological, economical, and historical backgrounds.
The Qualitative research methodology is used in this study. The method would involve analyses of the 'form' and 'content' of the Short Films.
The award winning Short Films taken from a randomized selection, from reputed Short Film Festivals held across the world between 2000- 2009. These festivals are: Cannes Palme d'Or du court mÃ©trage, Oscar Short Film Award, Aspen Filmfest Award, and Sundance Short Film Awards.
The following Short Films have been selected for the study:
1. Movie: Gridlock
Director: Dirk BeliÃ«n
Award: Oscar best live action short film, 2003; Aspen Shorts fest, 2002
2. Movie: Strangers
Director: Guy Nattiv and Erez Tadmor
Award: Aspen Shorts fest, 2003; Sundance Film Festival, 2003
3. Movie: Ver Llover
Director: Elisa Miller
Award: Cannes Film Festival, 2007
4. Movie: Sniffer
Director: Bobbie Peers
Awards: Cannes Film Festival, 2009
5. Movie: Oktapodi
Director: Julien Bocabeille, FranÃ§ois-Xavier Chanioux, Olivier Delabarre, Thierry Marchand , Quentin Marmier and Emud Mokhberi
Awards: Oscar best animated shorts winner, 2007
6. Movie: Spider
Director: Nash Edgerton
Award: Aspen shorts fest, 2007; Sundance Film Festival, 2007
Why the above Sample?
The above following sample has been chosen for the reason being that the Festival de Cannes(le Festival de Cannes), Oscars, Aspen Filmfest, and Sundance Film Festival, are one of the world's oldest, finest and most prestigious film festivals which have a very good representation of directors from across the world from different cultural, political, historical, religious, economical, and sociological backgrounds. This provides us with a variety of content for our study. The above movies are selected also on the basis of them being a part of contemporary cinema.
How to Study Short Films
Some of the salient points/ questions that will be used to do this study of short films are as follows:
1. Who is telling the story? Why is it being told? Does it appear to have a purpose?
(media agencies, authorial voice, writers and 'auteurs', marketing, economics, ideology)
2. How is it experienced? Who 'consumes' it, where and in what way?
(readers and media audiences- private and public experience, narrative structures)
3. How is it made?
(film technology, publishing and episodic publishing-the differences they make to the production process as well as to the finished product)
4. How does it construct meaning?
(film language and written language-expectations of audiences and readers, codes and conventions, narrative structures)
5. How does it represent its subject- especially with reference to period?
(representation, use of stereotypes, representation of the past)
(FILM STUDY GUIDE FOR TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, 2003)
Three Ways of Thinking & Talking About Films (Wilder, 1997)
Who are the characters in the film?
Did the actors make you forget they were acting? How?
What vivid visual images did you note? What did they make you feel or think about?
What is the film's setting?
Were costumes, make-up, and set equally important to the success of the film?
What sounds or music do you remember? What did they make you feel or think about?
What are the main plot elements?
In what scene was an actor's voice (pitch, volume, expression) particularly effective?
What scenes can you understand even without dialogue? Why?
From whose point of view is the story told?
Select a scene that must have been difficult to act. How did the actor make his or her body movements appropriate and convincing?
What scene has very effective or unusual editing?
What is the theme of the film?
Describe a scene in which facial expression was important. What feelings were developed? Were words necessary?
If the film uses special effects, do they add to or detract from your enjoyment of the film?
What is the mood of the film?
Did the actors establish their characters more through dialogue or through movement and facial expressions?
What symbols did you notice?
How is this film like or unlike other films by the director? Does this director have a recognizable "style"?
Was there anything about the acting, set, or costumes that bothered you or interfered with your watching of the film?
LIMITATIONS OF RESEARCH
1. The selection of the short films could have been broader and incorporated from more film festivals from across the world.
2. More methods like semiotics could have been used for the analysis of the short films.
3. Difficulty in access to short film movies from across the world and across film festivals. This includes difficulty in procuring even the award winning short films.
Given that the art of making Short Films is on the upward trend it is necessary to analyze the current trends, narratives, and the context of the Short Films genre in our contemporary cinema. We have enough knowledge on feature length movies but we lack information on the Short Films of our age. The study of this medium is important as Short films are a highly effective medium of communication and will gain importance going forward. As more and more people are turning towards Short Film making due to accessibility to technology, it is one field that needs attention in our world of cinema. A study of its content will give us a better understanding of the Short Films and world around us through their camera scope is imperative.
EXPLORING THE SHORT FILMS
Director: Dirk BeliÃ«n
Award: Oscar best live action short film, 2003; Aspen Shorts fest, 2002
The short film starts off with light summery music with nothing clear on the camera but a blur. Slowly the camera gets into focus and we see that it is headlight of the car. The music playing in the background is singing about a sunny day but when the camera gets into focus we realize that it is snowing heavily. The camera then moves up the across the bonnet of the car to focus on the man sitting inside the car. The man looks like in his forties, bald (looks like his style not natural), sporting a little hair under the lower lip, wearing a suit, light blue shirt, with a blue tie, and spectacles. The radio becomes audible now and the music stops on the radio and the news start. The lady on the radio news tells about the traffic jam that there is on the road Antwerp- Ghent. The man listens to it and then switches it off by cursing at it and saying 'yes, I can see that. Stupid Bitch.' At this scene the camera is focusing on the scene that it visible from the front window of the car portraying lot of snow and jam. The man in the car seems very annoyed with the jam. He starts cursing the people who are working on clearing the road inside the car only. As the man is in the process of taking out his medicines an ambulance whizzes past his car with its loud siren at which the man freaks out and curses 'Jesus Christ! Assholes!' the man then takes his medicines and breathes heavily after that for first few breathes and then relaxes. He looks into his watch for time. The camera all this time is placed right behind the steering wheel dashboard. Now it moves to the side passenger seat in the front where a newly bought mobile phone lies inside its open box.
The man says to himself loudly, 'Let's see if this thing is as good as the guy said.' He dials a number. There is honking of a car from behind which annoys him again and he shouts inside the car only at the person in the car behind and starts driving with the phone between his shoulder blade and right ear. The car stops. The phone rings in some home where the camera is focusing on the table with the phone and a Japanese sword also there on the stand. The table is placed right on the side of the wooden staircase leading to the higher floors. A chair in the background with a lamp to its side comes in the blur of the camera. The phone rings. We hear a television noise in the background and at the same time a girl suddenly gets up from behind the table. The girl seems about 5 years in age with golden hair knotted into two little buns on the head holding a doll with long hair which is tied into two pony tails and wearing a red frock. The girl picks up the phone and the following conversation happens with the camera shifting to the scene of the person talking from the same angle as it was before.
Man: hey, honey, its daddy.
Man: yes honey, its daddy.
Girl: Hi daddy.
Man: sweetie, is mommy there?
Girl: no, daddy, mommy's upstairsâ€¦
(As the girl is talking on the phone she starts moving towards the pram to keep her doll in it. In the process the phone falls from the table and the man couldn't hear the 'upstairs')
Man: honey? Hello, what did you say?
Man: say, sweetie, is mommy there?
Girl: mommy's upstairs in the bedroom with uncle Wim.
(The girl is playing with the wire of the phone as she says this. On hearing this the man starts stuttering a bit and is totally flabbergasted)
Man: uncle Wim? But we don't have an uncle Wim, sweetie.
Girl: yes we do. Mommy's upstairs with uncle Wim.
(On hearing this, the man gets restless and doesn't know what to say. The girl keeps calling him daddy on the phone. The camera focuses on his lips.)
Man: honey, I want you to do something for meâ€¦
The camera then focuses on the girl as the man explains the girl what to do. She stands in one place listening intently and not moving a bit. The television noise is still there in the background. The camera moves around the girl slowly, withdrawing back from the girl. The girl leaves the phone receiver on the table and walks up the stair. The camera shifts to the man in the car who is very restless and takes one more round of his pills. The man still holding the phone to his ear is waiting for the girl to get back on the phone. The restlessness is still there as he keeps moving his hand over his head and breathing heavily. The girl comes down from the stairs. The girl picks up the phone.
Girl: hello daddy?
Man: what happened?
The camera shifts to a room upstairs with the door bolted. The girl walks in the frame from behind and goes by the door. She hears moans and groans of her mother inside the room when she puts her ear against the door.
Girl: I went upstairs and knocked on the door, like you asked me to.
The girl knocks on the door and then calls mommy, mommy, but she only hears the moans getting louder. Then she says, 'I heard daddy's car. He's home.' The door opens and a nude woman screams at the girl and then runs away into the corridor into the bathroom. Then the camera pans towards the bedroom. An obese man there was wearing his pants in a hurry and looking at the girl in her eyes. He had spiked hair and a French beard. Fear was there in his eyes. Now we hear background sound of the girl talking on the phone explaining what she saw and happened as the camera moves with the girl in what she had just done while she was gone and phone receiver was on the table. At the same time there is light music that comes in as the girl runs towards the noise she heard and the music becomes much louder as the girl sees her mother lying on the bathroom floor dead. The girl starts rolling her finger in her hair.
Girl: and she ran into the bathroom and fell on the floorâ€¦ and I think she is dead.
The camera shifts to the man in the car.
Man: dead?! No, no, noâ€¦.
The man seems to get scared and starts moving his hand over his bald head in tension.
Man: and uncle Wim?
The camera shifts to the girl sitting by her mother and uncle Wim in the background. When the girl looks at him, he shuffles his steps a bit and runs. Then we hear a noise of a glass breaking. The girl moves to the other room
Girl: he's hurt too.
Then the camera follows her to another room. She walks past some broken pieces of glass with blood around them.
Girl: there was blood on the floor.
Girl: uncle Wim wasn't there anymore.
The camera gives a shot of an open window with white curtains fluttering with the snowfall outside. The view is that of a night and barren trees silhouette in the background. The camera then moves to the window and shifts slowly towards the area below the window where a figure of a man is there flat on the ground and no movement. The music is getting grimmer but still lighter in the intensity of its sound.
Girl: and I looked down and I think he's dead. In the swimming pool.
Man: Swimming pool? Swimming pool? What swimming pool?
The man looks stunned and moves his mobile phone from his ear. He looks at the number on the mobile phone after hearing the swimming pool. And then he realizes the number he has dialed. A car honks at the back.
Man: holy shit!
The movie has a very serious and frustrated mood in the beginning which is betrayed by the opening song which makes it sound nice and jolly. The movie focuses a lot on the close shots when the characters are talking. The movement of the camera is usually when there is no speech taking place. For example, when the man talks its focused on his face or his lips. When the phone was ringing the camera stayed on the phone till the little girl came into the scene. During the flashback the speed of the scenes goes in slow-motion and all the shots are from a stationary place. The camera just follows from where it is rather than moving with the characters.
Throughout the movie the sounds of the natural surroundings are used. The music is only used once the little girl starts explaining what all happened after she did what he had told her to do. The music comes in for the back flash part of the short film. The music used is also very grim and gothic type. The music gets louder when the death of the mother is shown and church bells for both the mother and uncle Wim. Once the man realizes that it is a wrong number that he has dialed, the music stops playing in the background.
Music and the slowing of the scenes happen only in the flashback. While in the present scenario natural surrounding sounds are used with more focus on close shots.
The short film was made in 2001 when the mobile phones were just growing in the world. So we see an upper class man, as he is driving a Mercedes car and his looks are that of a business man or such other job. What we see in the film is how a wrong connection can lead to damage in someone else's life that is repairable. He took the phone to call on wife but dials a wrong number. Without even realizing whom he has dialed, the man starts suspecting his wife, a basic human nature of mistrust dwells in him that he ignores points like upstairs when used in a sentence of with uncle Wim.
We also see that the movie address the normal traffic problems that there are during the winters and the high stress levels of the modern day jobs as the man in the car keeps cursing the people around him but never saying it to them as if he is afraid to. He feels comfortable within his own car. The amount of medicines he keeps taking also suggests the stress and health level of the current life.
The movie also suggests how the life in a way is getting complicated by the technology and the value of human beings decreasing over time. As the moving ends the man realizes that he had called the wrong number due which two deaths have happened. And his reaction was only, 'Holy shit'.
Director: Guy Nattiv and Erez Tadmor
Award: Aspen Shorts fest, 2003; Sundance Film Festival, 2003
The short film starts off with a shot of a subway corridor with light only on the exit/entrance area. There is no one at the station. A metro passes by. The title 'Strangers' comes. And then the camera moves to a back of a man waiting for the metro. There is some music when the face of the man is shown. The man enters the metro smiling and then starts walking down the aisle looking for a place to sit. He is carrying a bag hung onto his right shoulder, a zipper sweatshirt open from the front showing his black t-shirt with a face of sun imprinted on it and a chain of his hanging outside his shirt.
He finds a place and settles himself comfortably but when notices a guy sitting across him on the other row facing somewhat towards him reading an Arabic newspaper, he makes a face and seems uncomfortable. The metro starts moving with the speaker making the announcement. The white man who had just entered the metro keeps staring at the man reading the newspaper while playing with his chain. The camera then focuses on the hands and slowly moves across the newspaper showing the Arabic font and a picture of some person screaming with police in the background. The man with the newspaper then folds the paper to turn to the next page when he has an eye contact with the white man. The white man then let goes of his chain which has the Star of David on it. Both of them then keep looking at each other. The man with the newspaper keeps looking at him once in a while. There is no music as of now but only that of the metro moving.
After a while, the white man startles a bit and gets a little fidgety. The camera pans to the whole view of the aisle in the metro. Single beats of drum start as the people in the aisle approach these two man. The group of people is the Nazi street gang people. As they are approaching, the Jewish man hides his chain inside his t shirt. Four of them all wearing white t-shirts, bald head, piercings, tattoos across the body approach them. The Nazi gang comes and occupies seats next to the Muslim and the Jewish man. While one stands to on the aisle. The music becomes grim and some forms of chants are being said in the music.
One of the gang members spray paints the Nazi symbol on the Arabic newspaper that the person is reading in black. The Muslim man moves his newspaper and has a look at the newspaper and then all the Nazi gang members and then the Jewish man who is trying to look away and ignore everything. The camera keeps shifting from one face to other to cover everyone and the look on the faces of the characters. The Muslim man tries to shift a bit but the one Nazi member puts his put by his crotch.
The metro arrives at the station. Music is no longer being played in the background. The Jewish man starts to get up to get off at the station. But as soon as he picks his bag up, his mobile phone starts ringing. The ring tone is that of a Jewish prayer. The Jewish man starts shuffling within his bag to find the phone while all the Nazi gang members start staring at him. Once he finds the phone he just cuts the call rather than picks it up and then puts the phone in his bag. Rather than getting up and leaving he sits back again with everyone of the characters looking at him. The last announcement of the metro is being made. The camera then shows the Muslim man's face looking at the Jewish man. They both have an eye contact. Music starts again sounding that of a table. The Jewish man nods and so does the Muslim man and suddenly they throw each other's bag across and push the Nazi people aside and start running up the aisle of the metro. They reach the open door and both the Jewish and Muslim man take exit from opposite sides. The Nazi gang reaches by the door but it is already closed. The Muslim man looks at them while the Nazi man punches the window out of anger and keeps looking at him.
Once the metro stats moving, the Muslim guy breathes a sigh, and the Jewish man is shown on the other side also breathing heavily. Once the metro passes into the tunnel, they both scream random hoots at it. Both of them look at each other and then throw respective bags across the track. They both nod to each other in appreciation and then move out of the station through different exits.
The film starts with music basically consisting of beats of drum and a dark alley with entrance to the subway. It sets grim tone to the movie. The music stops once the Jewish man's face is shown entering the subway. After that there are only natural sounds of the metro that are used. Once the Jewish man seats himself nearby the Muslim man, the camera shots are of both the man observing each other one by one. The camera shifts from one person to the other and moves around observing each other as if seen through their eyes.
The music starts again slowly when the Jewish man notices the Nazi gang members coming towards them. After that the music is played till the two get out of their clutches in the metro. The music is very intense and the camera focus shifts from one person to the other focusing on each and their expressions showing all what they are thinking. The music during the Nazi intrusion stops only when the metro reaches the station and the sound of the mobile phone starts ringing the Jewish music. After that the music starts again till they get out of the train.
The movie shows how the different religions and races interact with each other. The Muslim already seated is reading an Arabic-language newspaper, with a photo of some demonstration or riot. The Jewish man who just got on the subway has a Star-of-David necklace, and makes a point of jostling it so that the Muslim man notices. This might be taken a number of different ways (including cursing) the intent is that these two guys are not happy to be on the same train, probably because one is an Arab or Muslim and the other is Jewish, each holding some prejudices about the other, but they tolerate each other's presence. But with the entrance of the Nazi gang members, they both tend to collaborate.
We also see that on their approach the Jewish man doesn't warn the Muslim man about it but hides his Star of David. He seems to be more afraid than the Muslim counterpart. It is most likely the Holocaust memories that the Jewish person is reminded of. No hatred is there on his face but fear that these people are coming again. Both the Jewish man and the Muslim man realize that they are both at the same end and need something to do together to get out of this situation. They both just nod to each other and make the move. It is simple human instinct of fight or flight situation and they make the decision that will help them survive. And collaboration is one of the unexpected but we realize that at times of adversity the opposites can come together to fight a larger force.
Another aspect to look at is that this short film was made by Israel directors. What we can see here is that Israel as a country stands alone in the surroundings of all the Islamic countries around them. And sometimes a larger force, generally unwanted by both the parties comes once in a while and that is when you have to push the hatred aside and work together. If the countries near the Israel country and the neighbors' come together they can achieve peace. The movie shows how both have suffered over the time and how they can actually be one.
Movie: Ver Llover
Director: Elisa Miller
Award: Cannes Film Festival, 2007
The first scene opens with a boy and a guy holding hands with just the hands being shown. Then the scene shifts to the front view of the boy and girl. Both are of the same height, teenagers, and the boy looks confused while the girl seems happy and excited in life. They are both standing at the highway to cross the road. The girl says to the boy, 'are you scared?' she then runs across the road and laves his hand behind. The boy crosses the road after bit hesitance. Then they walk away into the corner. The next scene is of the boy and girl walking into the hotel which is owned by the mother of the boy. The mother asks them if they crossed over the bridge and the boy says yes while the girl just smiles. The girl is offered to have lunch by the boy's mother and she accepts it. The boy then asked for sometime and says he'll be back with the girl going with him.
The boy takes her down the corridor around the corner near a window of the hotel room and stands against the wall and says I want to tell you something when the girl interrupts and tells him to look through the window of the room where a couple were having sex which the couple notice and stare at the window on which the boy and the girl run away from the wall near the window of the hotel room around the corner along the corridor.
The boy and the girl stop around the corner of the corridor. The girl named Sofia asks the boy what he wanted to say. The boy named Jones, says, 'Nothing'. Sofia insists. Jones asks her, 'do you want to be my girlfriend?' the camera focuses on Sofia's face and she moves towards him. The camera focus on just the side frames of Jones and Sofia. They both look at each other into their eyes and then each other's lips. Sofia moves in closer to his face. The boy hesitates first but then moves close to her. They both looking at each other's lips move in closer. They both bring their lips together with somewhat open mouth and then close in the lips after touching each others. They both let the kiss sink in and kept slow and felt each moment of it. 'Jones' you suddenly hear in the background, the voice of the mother, 'Lunch is ready'.
Sofia says, 'Let's go' to Jones and walks on and Jones just watches her leave. The next scene is by a small stream with lots of trees and grasslands around it. The boy is sitting on a pipe fiddling with a broken tree branch when the girl strolls along on the pipe towards boy while listening to her Discman. She sits by Jones. She shows him a paper boat and says, 'Don't you feel that we live in an island?' and lets go of the boat into the stream. Jones replies t her while camera still on stream, 'Sometimes'. The girl then looks at the chain he is wearing and asks him why he wears it.
Jones tells her, 'My father gave it to me, so it would take care of me.
Sofia: where is he?
Jones: he left.
Jones gets up and starts walking away from her on the pipe when he turns around and asks Sofia about her father. The camera shifts to Sofia's face with sun shining on her face and she looks down at the stream where four paper boats are flowing by and shrugs her shoulders. While the camera still focuses on the stream and the boats, there is a song being sung by the girl. The camera shifts to front view and both are still on the pipe by a wooden bridge. Sofia tells Jones that she knows how to read hands and tells him that he will lots of girlfriends a long life but little money. Then she compares his hand with hers.
Sofia: they're alike
Jones: that's because we are soul mates
Sofia: don't be a fool
After sometime while sitting by a railing, looks at Jones.
Sofia: we cannot be soul mates anyway, because I'm going to leave this town and you won't. You are a coward.
Jones looking confused, asks'why are you leaving?'
Sofia: so I don't become like my mother.
The scene shifts to night time focusing on the feet of Sofia. The camera pans up towards her face with movements in within the sheets. The camera shows her face which is being covered in the darkness by her own shadow. In the other room you hear a woman moaning and then a breaking of glass. The lady asks, 'What did you break?' Sofia gets annoyed and starts staring into the darkness with a sense of annoyance.
The next scene is that of the mother and his son sitting in the kitchen. The mother is cooking food and Jones is sitting on the table. Jones asks mother, 'have you ever thought of leaving this town?' the mother gives a glance to Jones and then turns back to cooking at the same time saying, 'Yes'.
Jones: why didn't you?
Mother walks up towards Jones with the plate in her hand and camera focusing from on the table shot of Jones and mother.
Mother: how is it going with Sofia?
Mother: fine? Have you had sexual relations already?
Jones while shrugging: no mom
Mother: well, I just thought, as you are always togetherâ€¦ surely Sofia knows more than you but I have to say it anywayâ€¦ you have to use aâ€¦
Jones cutting her in: yes, Teresa I already know.
The mother goes back to cooking. The scene shifts to broken pieces of glasses on floor and Sofia trying to clean them up with her hands when she cuts herself. She sits and looks at her and then leaves the place. She goes to her mother's room to find her sleeping on the bed in her dress in a very awkward drunken state. The room just has a bed with forest green sheets on it and sun shining through the window in a very dull way. The view is that of from the girl's eyes.
The scene shifts to a compound surrounded with net railings and dry leaves all around. Jones and Sofia are playing a game there by throwing the ball against the wall and catching it when Sofia says,'I'm leaving on Friday'. On hearing this we see Jones throw the ball angrily at the wall as he moves out of camera. The camera follows the graffiti in the background which says SOFIA and stops on Jones who is standing against the wall contemplating.
The scene shifts to the shot of the reception of the hotel where Jones and Sofia are sitting at the reception watching the downpour of rain outside. They were both getting bored when Sofia gets up and puts her hand out in the rain. The cut of glass on her hand is evident. Sofia says I like to get wet, while the camera still focuses on her hand feeling the rain drops. She comes in throws water at Jones in playful manner and then takes one key of a vacant room from the locker and asks Jones to choose a hand. Jones chooses the right hand which has a cut and Sofia shifts the key to the right hand from left which she was originally holding the keys in. she sways the keys in front of his eyes and says to him that she knows what they can do and taps his shoulder to that he follows her. The frame is that of an empty reception desk now.
The next scene is of Jones moving the white sheets a bit up with his faces and the area illuminated by the light outside. Both Jones and Sofia smile at each other with camera shifting to each face by turn. The camera focuses on Jones taking Sofia's hand in his hand and looking at them both. Jones says, 'They do not look much alike anymore'. He holds her hand, and camera shifts to Sofia who is smiling. Sofia then moves the sheets and gets out. Jones stays inside and starts looking at his while smiling dreamily. He moves the sheets to look out and camera shifts to a view from corner side of the bed. Sofia is sitting on the bed and putting on her t-shirt. Jones is watching her do that and then says to her not to leave. Sofia gets on to the bed and holds Jones hands and tells him to come with her. Sofia kisses Jones and moves out of the bed and out of the frame of the camera.
Jones is packing his clothes in his room with music playing in the background of his radio. He is packing his clothes and items into a backpack when his mother calls him. Jones goes to the kitchen and asks his mother what happened. She asks him what he upto to which Jones replies nothing is. Jones starts helping his mother put the grocery in place. The mother kisses Jones on the forehead and is glad to see him after having an awful day. Jones tells his mother that he is not very hungry and he is going to bed. Teresa then places two bowls on the table. But then moves one away to the counter and tells Jones to have a goodnight. Jones is still standing at the kitchen door and watching when his mother takes the pink panther and places him on Jones chair. Jones gets back into the kitchen and picks his bowl and puts it on the table to eat. He throws away the pink panther from the chair at which the mother starts smiling and adoring him.
The scene shifts to a busy road. Across the road is the bus stand at which Sofia is waiting for Jones. Jones comes into the frame and walks across the road. The bus arrives. Sofia asks Jones where is your backpack. The camera focuses on Jones face and then back to Sofia. 'You are a coward', she says. At this Jones takes off his father's chain and hands it to Sofia and tells her that this will take care of you. Sofia takes the chain casually and walks into the bus. Jones is watching her get on to the bus from the backside of the bus. The camera focuses on Jones face and then inside the bus on Sofia. She is looking at the cut on her hand over her lifeline. She then wears the chain and looks back out of the tinted windows which Jones outside cannot see. Then she turns around and starts looking at the chain. The bus starts moving. Through the tinted windows, we see Jones running after the bus but Sofia keeps looking ahead. Then Jones stops running after the bus after a short distance.
The short film contains close up shots of Jones and Sofia when they talk to each other about something serious while that with mother are from medium shots. The movie does not contain many long shots other than that of the traffic scene in the end and Jones being left behind after the bus moves on. We see lots of shots of Sofia when she is alone in the darkness while Jones face is always shown in light.
There is no use of music throughout the film. Only the humming of Sofia is there when they are sitting by the stream and when Jones is packing and listening to music on radio. The movie has natural noise of the surroundings like traffic, rain, stream, etc. most of the movie has quietness present with the characters interacting once in a while.
The mood set by this film is that of exploration of oneself and the need for belonging and suffering loss. Jones as a character is full of innocence and afraid to take big steps while Sofia is ready to leave the city to lead a better life which even she is not sure of but ready to try. While both the mothers of Sofia and Jones are shown as suffering from loss of their husbands and trying to survive on their own.
The movie is based in Mexico. We see the normal life of a family that is present, where husbands have left their wives, mothers trying to bring up the children on their own and at the same time the children trying to discover who they are and where they belong. It probably portrays the life that is very prominent in that region. Some children are attached to mothers that they stay behind to take care of them while others leave to runaway from the current life to explore their own one.
We see that Sofia looks at Jones hands and tells him that the hands are alike and he'll have many girlfriends and long life but no money hinting towards the lack of chance to earn money in Mexico that one has to leave to become rich. After they have a sexual intercourse Jones is looking at Sofia's hand and says that they no longer look the same. Here there is a change from beginning where Jones said that they are soul mates because of similar hands but now they probably aren't as Sofia is planning to leave the town.
Jones hands over his father's chain which he had given him so that it looks after him to Sofia. Here Jones shows his love for her so that she stays safe. When Sofia looks at her hands in the bus we see that the cut of the glass piece cuts through her lifeline. And then she wears the chain. Sofia's life is going to be short and dirty probably but there is hope that the prayers and the chain will protect her.
The movie addresses many issues of the society. The movie talks about husbands leaving their wives behind, children growing up without father, a sense of alienation among everyone, mother's turning to prostitution to earn money for a living, people migrating out of the town/ city/ country to look for a better life, and children at young age having sex, and mother preaching her son about use of protection during sex. It is a larger movie as a whole then what is visually shown.
Director: Bobbie Peers
Awards: Cannes Film Festival, 2009
The movie starts off with a man slowly falling on the floor and then the camera pans behind his head. The man breaks a lamp and throws it down. His wife wakes up and looks up. Next shot is that of iron boots and the woman wears them and walks across the room with only the noise of the boots clinking on the floor. She gets a pole with a hook and pulls the husband sown from the roof and ties him to his bed. The beds are also separate. The next scene shows the man applying deo- stick under his arm pits with some noise of machine in the background. The next shot shows a gallery of washing machines and the man dressed in suits walks into the room. His wife just hands him his briefcase without saying anything and he leaves without saying anything.
The man is standing at the bus in an all stiff position as if in attention in an army. The man looks at his watch and precisely at 8 30 the bus arrives. He enters the crowded bus and closes the door. We see sets of gravitational moves moving on the street. In the background the bus stops and the man gets out with rest of the crown following him out of the bus but pushing and shoving him as he stands outside on the pavement. He walks into a building
At his workplace, there is a tall slightly fat man only in shorts walking on a treadmill. Similarly there are 5 more such men standing on the treadmill and walking on it in their gravitational boots. Opposite them are six sniffers who are sitting and watching them. On the camera frame, on the right side are the men on treadmills, on the left are the sniffers, and in the center of the frame at the back is the supervisor. The supervisor whistles and the sniffers get up and the men stop on the treadmill. On the second whistle everyone moves out of their desks and treadmills. On the third whistle they take two steps toward each other. On the third whistle they move right in front of each other. And on the fourth whistle they spray under the arms of the men on treadmill and sniff it by sticking their nose up their armpits. After sniffing the sniffers make some note in their notepads and the men go back on the treadmills and start walking again. Then the camera focuses on the protagonist of the film. His mouth is open is awe and as if he has had some kind of enlightenment. He looks at the men on treadmill in front of him.
There is some music that starts playing at the back here, very lightly. The man hears and sees a pigeon in the room. The whistle is blown again by the supervisor. At this moment the pigeon flies across the room and then falls down on the floor. The supervisor moves out to pick the pigeon and throw him in the shredder dustbin. The protagonist then runs out to see the pigeon. He pushes the supervisor aside to the floor and takes the pigeon and leaves the room. He turns back once to see the supervisor on the floor but doesn't go to help her and neither does anyone else in the room. After he leaves the room, everyone rushes to the window to see where he is going, what is he going to do and other questions that runs through a mind that is made into a machine.Â
The man runs out of the building onto the empty streets while the co-workers look down from top pushing each other aside. The man walks with the pigeon in his hand when he suddenly sees more pigeons flying by. When he looks down the pigeon is gone. Music starts again. The man has expression of amusement and remorse at the same time. He walks all the way on the empty streets to the laundry place where his wife works. He stands outside the window only in his undergarments. He is looking inside. His wife notices him and comes by the window. He looks at him from top to bottom and makes a painful expression and her eyes become moist. They both look at each other's eyes and then he takes off his vest. A man passes by in the frame stops to look at him. The protagonist looks at him and the by stander walks on.
The protagonist then unclips his gravitational boots and let's himself fly out of it. The wife watches him go up and so do some bystanders with one looking at his partners boot. The wife comes out on the street. The camera pans up as view of the man watching his wife as he goes up.
The short film Sniffer doesn't use music till the main character in the film has some kind of revelation from inside and he wants to break away. The music then is very light and enlightening type. Before the use of the music, all the scenes used the raw sound of the surroundings around them. At night that usually meant quietness and no sound. During the day, most of the sounds that are there are that of machines like treadmill, washing machine, spray, etc. and the iron boots that keep clinking when the characters in the movie walk. There are no dialogues in this movie. Everything is portrayed in the movie through the shots of camera, noise, and facial expressions.
The movie starts off with camera seemed to be on the floor. As the camera pans around the head of the middle aged man and after his wife gets up we realize that he is against the roof because of the lack of gravity. Also, the camera shots are very stationary. They never follow any character but rather people come and walk out of the frame. Only in the last shot does the camera start moving upwards as if it is the eyes of the man going up in the air.
The mood of the film is very serious but no emotions are there. Everything and everyone is a machine and they work like ones. No change in facial expressions are there in the people except for the part when the lead character sees a pigeon come in and goes to save it and when the rest of the staff and trainers look down from the building in disbelief to understand what's happening.
The short film portrays a society where everyone has the ability to fly, but the citizens anchor themselves to the ground via 'gravitation boots'. Devoid of sunlight and the open sky, the members of society go about their routine without any hope of personal gratification.There are no emotions on the faces of the people except for the part when the man sees a pigeon come inside his workplace and collapses. The bird here represents the freedom that there is. But the supervisor decides to kill it through the shredder. This man runs across the room and pushes the supervisor aside and saves the pigeon and runs away with it. The supervisor shows that she will allow no freedom through her action and everything has to work on her whistles only, while the man chooses to save the pigeon at the same moment realizes the freedom he has but how he bounded himself. We also see that when the man runs out with the pigeon, he is all alone on the street, and his co- workers are watching from the window above, as if they are contained in some box and can't break free and are keen to see what freedom is, while the man alone has taken the step towards freedom.
We see that the buses are crowded and jam packed with people like him and everyone goes around with their mundane work. When the man gets out of the bus, we see that he is pushed and shoved by the people getting out of the bus without apologizing. It makes the world seem full of machines, the sounds of machines, and the people walking like robots with the clinking noise of their gravitational boots, the work ethics, and the buildings. The whole world is nothing but machines, no hope, no emotions, no love, no laughter, or joy. One day, however, the man decides he has had enough and wants to break free from this world. He challenges the status quo, quits his job, loosens his bindings, and literally takes off. The world around watches by as he breaks frees from them and strives up towards freedom.
The film portrays to an extent towards where we are heading and what might be there for us in the future. We see that the beds of the husband and wife are separate showing the lack of connect and bonding with each other even at such a personal level. Given the advancements in the technology, the amount of time required to do work and lack of it for personal activities, and the happening of global warming and changes in the cosmic structures we might be heading there only and not be far too behind.
Director: Julien Bocabeille, FranÃ§ois-Xavier Chanioux, Olivier Delabarre, Thierry Marchand , Quentin Marmier and Emud Mokhberi
Awards: Oscar best animated shorts winner, 2007
This animated short film starts off with light cello and violin playing in the background with visual of two octopuses, one orange and one pink, are admiring and hugging each other in the water tank. Suddenly a hand appears and grabs the pink octopus out and dragging the orange one out also. The music stops at this moment and noise of hand going into water comes. The orange octopus drops back into the tank. The orange octopus moves to the window of the water and sees the pink octopus being weighed and then given off to a butcher who puts it in the box and walks to his auto. All this view is through orange octopuses eyes through the water.
The orange octopus imagines the slaughter that will happen when the butcher chops the pink octopus and trembles with fear. But then he determines to save the pink octopus. The butcher sits in the auto and is turning on the ignition key. The view is now on the water tank which is empty. The path of the orange octopus is traced on the floor with water puddles left behind. He is running towards the auto and as soon as the auto starts it whizzes past with the orange octopus hanging at the back.
The auto moves downhill in the small medittearean city of Greece across the narrow streets paved all with stone bricks all the way. The view from the side of the auto moving down the street is shown. The orange octopus is moving towards the front of the vehicle. He hangs on to the window and is opening the box where the pink octopus is when the butcher notices them in the act. He screams and punches the orange octopus. The orange octopus keeps dodging his other punches while the pink octopus pulls the hand breaks. The music is getting louder and faster pace of its rhythm.
The auto comes to a crash halt due to the handbrakes which sends the octopuses flying out of the car on the street and the butcher unconscious in the auto. The music stops at this moment. Then the view shifts to the pink octopus who looks around dazed but then the eyes of the pink octopus flashes on the view of the sea. The music also starts again with a tempo building up. The butcher wakes up and see the pink octopus pulling the ora
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