Nicholas Clifford and Daniel Maurer are just the few directors who submitted their work on the Orange block of this year’s Shorts Not Pants festival. And these shorts prove that anything can happen within 9 to 20 minutes. Things can turn on a dime.
Alexandre Oppecini’s short Arabacciu opens the block, and the Corsican short shows that the people in the bar before closing aren’t necessarily the worst people in the bar – it’s the people whom the bartender kicked out before last call. A local accuses an Arab migrant, Hakim of stealing his cellphone, a beautiful middle aged woman defends Hakim. Then the bartender sides with Hakim and the woman. The woman ends up propositioning him but Hakim’s face shows that he can detect her past trauma. Both actors are capable of subtle moments that Oppecini captures through loving close-ups.
The previous short film can find something unique in an otherwise typical experience and the same goes for Lydia Matata’s Sungura (Rabbit). Bachelorette parties can make people behave in two ways. Either they’re in the majority where they’re having fun while being insufferable, or they’re the minority giving people eyes in the background. It also seems like this isn’t a problem that confines itself in the global north neither. That’s because the short depicts what that experience is like in Nigeria. Straightforward camerawork elevates itself when it eventually looks away at most of the partygoers. And when it pans and tilts to the protagonist – a wheelchair using person who refuses to see herself as a total victim.
Now we get to Clifford’s short The Handyman, which is about the titular labourer who begs to work for Evelyn (Alison Whyte), a recluse in Australia. He finally fixes a door for her after talking her ear off. After all, he wants to know what gift to give to his daughter for her birthday. I like the subtle use of floral patters in almost every room of the house. It’s reminiscent of every other period drama from the early 2000s. It slightly overdoes the quirky comedy but it ends on a sweet note.
Hüseyin Aydin Gürsoy’s Turning To Dust is, appropriately, anything but sweet, depicting a Turkish woman, Elif (Emine Meyrem) who lives in France. She sews illegal products at home. She bags up her recent batch. And she tries to sell them to a man who can get her and her family out of debt. There’s some downtime here, which happens in some longer short films. But it still does a decent job of highlighting the struggles of working class immigrant and refugees. Especially, that of women in those demographics living in Europe.
It amazes me how I still get to learn new things despite the feeling of having seen everything. One such short film that makes me feel that way is David LeMeur’s The Last Showman, about the owner of the last adult theatre in Paris and TIL that adult movie reels are heavy, a contrast to nowadays when anyone can carry and access all then adult material in the world in a device that they can fit in their pockets. A conventional but nonetheless effectively sad doc short.
The sadness viewers can feel while watching Erin Semine Kokdil’s Since You Arrived, My Heart Stopped Belonging to Me. Although in fairness, she incorporates some levity into this documentary short. This is, after all, about mothers looking for their missing children. These adult children went missing along the unofficial migration routes from countries in Central America like Honduras to the United States. She puts scenes where these women pick out their outfits for the next day of bringing awareness to their children. This wonderfully breaks the rule of telling instead of showing to capture the emotional arcs of these women. This isn’t for everyone, especially those who don’t prefer difficult viewing. But it’s part of the job and I like these kinds of subjects anyway.
Lastly, the block takes us from the buses in North America to the sanitized white spaces of a hospital in Switzerland. Maurer’s The Beyond specifically looks at a hospital worker caring for the people who passed because of COVID’s second wave. I’m on the fence as to whether or not this should have a longer running time to let viewers get to know its subject, like who cares. But he doesn’t seem like a typical hospital worker. And it would be nice to acknowledge that respectability politics is a barrier that some can cross. And as I usually write, this is a decent film to close the block.
Order tickets to Shorts Not Pants here.
- Rated: NR
- Genre: documentary, Drama, Short
- Release Date: 11/23/2021
- Directed by: Daniel Maurer, Erin Semine Kökdil, Lydia Matata, Nicholas Clifford
- Starring: Alison Whyte, Emine Meyrem
- Produced by: Erin Semine Kökdil, Karine Blanc
- Written by: Hüseyin Aydin Gürsoy, Nicholas Clifford
- Studio: Frédéric Gonseth Productions, Takami Productions