FOKUS Film Festival is an annual showcase of student-created short films hosted by TVMcGill. The films selected from this year’s submissions will be screened on Wednesday, March 23 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Cinéma du Parc (3575 Parc).
1. Those Creaking Chairs
Bringing to life the anger of two inanimate chairs separated by a candle, Paul Sara has directed a foreboding yet simple two minute experimental film. Without any clear story line, the short is left open to the viewer’s interpretation, and attempts to convey a feeling of eerie unrest rather than an actual plot. The voice of Marion Croze provides the only source of narrative, suggesting that perhaps the chairs are creaking out of anger for the sinful ways their owners treat each other. The candle between them, serving as the only source of illumination, seems to have been placed there by the absent humans in a failed attempt to calm their over excited furniture. The ambiguous story stands in stark contrast to the cinematographic effects, which are well executed and complement the sinister creaking in the background. Were this a preview of a full length film, one could imagine a horror where the neglected furniture revolts to attack their sinful owners…
A short experimental film that plays more like a cinematic essay, HeresNows captures stunning moments in time and space. Directed by Michael Marotti, and with assistance by Ming Lin, the camera catches completely random scenes that contrast sharply in lighting and effects, but that complement each other quite successfully. The cinematography turns dull scenes – an old shipyard, ordinary buildings, a tree – and renders them fascinating to the viewer. The enchanting background music, by Hilary Ison, simultaneously brings us to another place while tying us to the present moment. Like most of these shorts, the piece lacks any form of a story line, and serves perhaps only to remind us to live in the present, and to exist in the beauty that can be pulled from even the most deceivingly desolate of scenes.
From the sinister scene of a girl running in the winter snow, to the dark first-person view of someone waking up with blood on their hands, this hazy six minute film presents a story line that brings to mind the effects of a dream just out of reach or recall. The viewer is left to question what kinds of horrors are being remembered, and then to wonder whether we even want to know. Directed by Daniel Beresh and with footage by Daniel Shapiro, Whitney Mallett, and Stephanie Seretsky, the film jumps between dramatically differing scenes, creating the impression of jumbled memories, not quite forgotten. The chilling soundtrack and distinctive filming techniques contribute to the impression of someone trying to cling to a dream, especially when the voiceover asks of us “Do you remember?”
4. Fight of the Non- Perishables
Using stop animation to depict an epic battle between kitchen foods, Kyle Godden captivates us with his Fight of the Non-Perishables, a story fraught with violence, success, and defeat. Much to our entertainment (and perhaps his mother’s chagrin), the film details the non-perishables’ struggle as they work together to defeat the perishables of the fridge. Cans and jars raid the kitchen, stacking upon one another to reach the counter and encircle an apple until it splits into perfect slices. The perishables hardly put up a fight as their oranges are quickly turned into juice, and their eggs…fried to death. After their rampage, and what must have been hours of photographing for Godden, the perishables escape into the night in a getaway car.
Fight of the Non-Perishables goes beyond other stop animation films by offering more than something that simply looks cool. The cans and jars begin to take on their own identities for the viewers, who witnesses their struggle and will to survive. Your eyelids and potatoes will be peeled the entire time.
5. Into Another
Remember that feeling you had the first time you saw a Godard film? A sort of irreverent yet jolting daydream? Former Daily editor Whitney Mallett provides viewers with that exact kind of choppy, avant-garde grace in her film Into Another. The background music complements striking images of a beautiful woman who screeches the hangers in her closet or zips up her skirt. Alone in her bedroom, the young woman changes back and forth between dresses in fast-paced shots complemented by equally startling sounds. She finally decides on one outfit, yet the viewer is confused as it temporally appears she had been wearing that exact outfit when she first walked into her apartment. Then, the moment of truth: the woman glances at her own profile in a Polaroid snapshot. Who is she, or better yet, which version of herself is she? With its title a subtle hint, the film poses questions about the truth of one’s own identity, leaving it open for the viewer to reach their own conclusions.
6. Selfless Sympathy
Daniel Beresh’s Selfless Sympathy, one of two of his submissions to the Fokus Film Festival this year, is a perfect music video for McGill band Crystal Cadence. With the lyrics of the song repeating, “I don’t want your selfless sympathy, crying for me. Don’t cry for me,” the video conveys feelings of melancholy and heartbreak. However, Beresh creates his own interpretation of the song, touching on issues of self- mutilation, eating disorders, and school shootings through one protagonist’s eyes. Beresh exhibits a sophisticated understanding of editing, utilizing dissolves, slow-motion, and doubling to give the viewer an understanding of the main character’s pain at the loss of his girlfriend, being teased at school, and the ensuing loneliness.
Beresh’s protagonist evokes great sympathy in the viewer, until a quick shot reveals students lying on the ground in blood. The film ends with the main character slowly removing a gun from his coat, while staring at the front of his high school. The overall effect is one of extreme shock, particularly as much of the film was shot on McTavish, or in and around other campus landmarks. In Selfless Sympathy, Beresh creates an extremely stylistic music video while remaining faithful to the brevity of the song’s lyrics.
An earlier version of this article incorrectly titled HeresNows as Here’s Now. The Daily regrets the error. Correction updated March 20, 2011.