Hot Docs 2021: Our Review of the Markers Shorts Program

Posted in Festival Coverage, Hot Docs 2021, Movies by - April 29, 2021
Hot Docs 2021: Our Review of the Markers Shorts Program

Hot Docs fills their Markers Short Program with short movies that push the boundaries of filmmaking. But there’s more to these movies that plain experimentation. They use unconventional methods to tell stories, which is interesting enough of a contrast. But there’s so much emotion to the stories that these filmmakers chose to tell. It’s so on brand for me to like this program.

The short movie that this program starts out with is Letter to Eusapia. It gets its title from an underground bunker city that the Belgians built to prepare themselves in case the Cold War got hot. The director here, Andres Cornejo Pinto, is in the process of rediscovering that city. Meanwhile, his father is in their home city of Guayaquil, Ecuador, one of the early hotspots for COVID-19. This short movie beautifully depicts the fear that past generations have. And it connect that with the anxieties and the helplessness people personally feel when facing one of the biggest crises of the postmodern age.

A woman narrates her life and memories in Listen to the Beat of Our Images, a short movie that, ironically enough, feels like it’s reaching out for a heartbeat of a land and people that she seems to have lost. Her narration plays out in a dark screen, evoking the dark forests of her childhood. A time when nature was accessible and before a wave of European immigration to French Guiana. They came to what used to be a French colony to build a space station that will destroy her land. She talks about concepts of Western urbanization with a childlike sadness, making her viewers feel her emotion. She makes something elegiac here.

Viewers can feel the same elegiac feeling in Nicolas Gourault’s VO, a short movie that might be divisive. Its visuals address many storylines that don’t seem to connect at first. One of its many shots show white dots in darkness, which happens to be a capturing the streets within the perspective of a self driving car. As the short progresses those dots become more numerous, capturing sidewalks, sometimes with people on it. It’s reminiscent of Robocop but this machine doesn’t want to kill people. It also takes time to capture the VOs – voiceovers – of people driving those cars, their detached tone effectively contrasting a haunting ending.


  • Release Date: 4/29/2021
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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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