Once again we invite Carlo Perassi to weigh in on the five films from the competition that he sees having the most development potential. Carlo’s annual picks are always interesting and insightful and an important resource for helping us determine the annual CineCoup Award which, together with the Coup Company, we award each year in mid-November as part of the Filminute Development Prize.
So, as we await the news of the Filminute 2019 jury and public awards, we encourage you to dive into Carlo’s words below and learn more about the films and filmmakers he’s chosen this year.
by Seyhmus Altun
FRAGMENTS is a masterfully directed heist short film that displays a direct line to human emotion. The style and pacing of the film lends itself brilliantly to the one-minute format.
First, let’s consider the acting. The director has managed to use — in a rather innovative and updated way — a very abused narrative tool: dialogues within a phone call. In this director’s hands, life and emotion are injected into these snippets of phone conversation, giving the effect of suspending the words into something between a voice over and a reverse shot. The space this creates, matched with the authenticity of the performances, gives the whole film an elegant touch.
The cinematography in FRAGMENTS is arguably some of the best in this year’s festival. This is not a big surprise considering the professional crew, starting from the director, who collaborates with a globally-known branded content agency. Still, the film manages to have more than 26 shots in 60 seconds! At least half of these shots help in developing the story while the rest leave time for the audience to stare into people’s eyes and breathe with them: an impressive result!
The work on sound and music is of an extremely high level in this film. Three main moods cross the short and we have to pay attention when one ends and the next begins. They are so masterfully molded together that, even when we try to stop and analyze the short, we are captured by gazes and sounds or, in other words, by the short itself.
Feature or Series?
FRAGMENTS should be a feature for sure, one that would play very well at festivals. Because people love stories, especially when they are cracked and honest enough to show how hard it is to really break up.
I AM NOT AFRAID
by Merick & Gohu
Some people find this short a bit cryptic but for me it’s perfectly clear — from the first viewing — that it was all about the Mediterranean. Kubrick once said that meaning comes later than the progression of moods and feelings. With this short, we are inundated with waves of water and music, making it tricky to quickly ascertain the meaning. The directors told us that they totally relate with Kubrick’s sentence: they don’t like to show everything, preferring to create a subtext with editing and sounds (aren’t these, after all, the core of cinema itself?) to make — in this case — Western people think harder about the migrant reality through the image of an average French kid drowning in a bathtub.
From a technical perspective, it’s interesting to note that the entire principal photography lasted just two hours (the amount of time before the young actor started to feel uncomfortable in water). Such a short time span is a clear sign of a well-designed film. And still, they managed to find time for a fine and subtle final touch: the adult face you can just barely make out underwater in the last cut (which is, in fact, the face of one of the directors).
Music is clearly very important in this work and the increasing ”hum“ you hear as the movie progresses gets its roots from Ibeyi’s musical clip “River” and, not surprisingly, “No Country for Old Men” by the Coen brothers (Carter Burwell, composer).
Finally, we are reminded by the directors that working with a child is never easy and often full of surprises. Thankfully, the final result is very good.
Feature or Series?
A series, possibly experimental and far from the mainstream, one that would appeal to the growing niche of migrant and emigration films, would certainly be worth watching. Without a doubt, the directors are well-equipped to mix drama and honest social issues.
by Diana Dumitrescu
In the UK/Romanian drama, BABY, when the music stops suddenly, the drama starts and slowly develops through ever-increasing sounds within the pharmacy environment. Prior to this sudden change, in just a few seconds, we are subjected to 5 or 6 cuts — with even a jump cut thrown in. Many directors in this situation would have stayed with a longer close-up, proof of the attention paid here to both narrative fluency and the build of dramatic tension. Then, as the sound reaches its peak, there is a twist leading us to the very end of the short; four brief lines, a couple of well-timed glimpses, and we’re done.
Is it simple to get such a result? Definitely not. The director likes to follow Joachim Trier’s style and the atmosphere he creates, although the powerful short film ‘Vatten’ by Niclas Larsson most likely had an influence on her in the brilliant way it builds suspense. Regardless, there is a confidence here in the direction that is impressive, especially for someone in their early 20’s.
While the pre-production of this one-minute short film took more than a month, the director shot the entire film in just a couple of hours: another remarkable result derived from a very short shooting timeline. As a side note on time, the limited shooting phase was due to the pharmacy manager’s agenda. At the same time, he was enthusiastic and trusting and was very proud of the fact that BABY was filmed in the same pharmacy that appeared in ‘Trainspotting!’
Lastly, a note on the music we hear the main character listening to on her headphones at the beginning. In this case it is taken from a free music archive. Finding a good composer is always something to think about from the early stage of a project and can add so much to a film. Yet, sometimes (and even more for indie films), such online resources like the one used for BABY clearly can be very helpful!
Feature or Series?
A short series. It could be a fresh format for young characters, ideally employing a typical British style.
by Pablo Girola, Bruno Scopazzo and Paula Otero
This comedy has plenty of examples of pitch-perfect comic timing while also offering another shining example of a well-structured one-minute short film.
Regarding comic timing, EL HAMPON features at least three very strong examples. The first one concerns the ”list“ that the main character has in his pocket. From this cliché setup, the audience quickly deduces that he is a bad guy, and with this we get a clear signal that something unexpected is going to happen.
The second example goes with the first and has to do with the sound: there is a rhythm of ”beeps,” music through which it is revealed that the character actually is evil. Then, the music abruptly changes and we return back to the original sound design format, mixed with the original ”beeps“ and mobile notifications.
The third example of strong comic timing comes at the end during the closing credits, when we witness the store employee sweeping the floors while singing the melody he is listening to in his earphones. This mix between extradiegetic and diegetic soundtrack adds yet another layer and crowns the film brilliantly.
As a final note, we also want to point out to the reader that this short film was part of a 24-hour project, where the filmmakers were required to go from conception to completion in one day, including without the use of real actors. Such information helps us to further appreciate the craftsmanship and experience of the directors as well as the whole crew.
Feature or Series?
Of course we would like to know more about the three characters because we are pretty sure their subplots could be related in many ways. Even the music could have its own part in this story. So a feature would be a nice choice to expand the great work of these three directors.
by Melisa Sahin
NORMA is a film that proves that we can have a grown up love conflict simply by mixing a plant, frugal dialogue, and a nice dose of silence.
Shot in a day without a formal script, the team decided to concentrate much of its efforts on sound design: hearing the street and the birds, and feeling the presence of the outer world inside the house adds a mundane touch to a minimalist yet very dramatic scene.
Regarding the montage, the director placed most lines in reverse shots and this choice serves to powerfully enhance the separations between the two characters. It’s a simple but effective device, and a clear sign of an experienced and sensitive director.
From a more technical point of view, ADR (Automated Dialog Replacement) has been used in every part of the film with a degree of nostalgia and ambiguity that gives the impression of an expanded timeline. In this way, it feels like an indirect reference to ”The Royal Tenenbaums,” with its fragile characters, tending-to-bizarre dialogue, and use of natural light. All of this, amazingly, done with only a very lean three person crew.
Feature or Series?
The sparse atmosphere is ideal for a very elegant feature (not so long but still a feature), one that would allow the director to partially explore the past of the three main characters while leaving large areas to the audience to figure out or to the beauty of subtext.
Carlo Perassi: his previous shorts have been shortlisted in more than 73 festivals with 6 awards, 2 nominations and 1 mention and were shown on TV and in theatres. He has been a juror in an indie festival in London and he regularly writes critique for Filminute.