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Do not adjust your set. The long pauses of black screen during this studiedly serious anthology of experimental shorts made by cinematographers during the pandemic lockdown are deliberate. It’s been put together by the American-Egyptian director Sam Abbas, who invited five cinematographers to take part in his lockdown challenge, shooting a film on their phones. The result feels a bit like being fed a plate of arthouse vegetables, a collection of not always easy-to-watch films, randomly connected and with a total running time of 58 minutes that, to be honest, is a bit of a slog.
The opening film is a purely experimental piece by Soledad Rodríguez, her camera prowling hungrily for images. She uses a filter or effect that makes even ordinary images look unsettlingly like a sci-fi or horror movie: in a wood, two dogs stand to attention and look like hounds of hell about to attack at any moment. Antoine Héberlé’s contribution, a self-conscious film with a new-wave feel about a woman sitting in her apartment listlessly staring out of her window, didn’t really work for me.
Abbas has described the collection as being “about everything and nothing”. The film most obviously about something is directed by Alexis Zabé, the cinematographer behind the stunning images in Carlos Reygadas’s Post Tenebras Lux. Here he shoots an arresting mini-doc about a tent community of homeless people living in Venice Beach, Los Angeles. At the end, the camera lingers on a message attached to wire fencing: “Love. Be kind”. At first the letters seemed to me to be written in gold helium balloons. Actually, it’s yellow cordon tape – a hopeful message stamped all over with the words “caution”. I would happily watch 58 minutes of Zabé’s film, but in the main, these films would possibly work better on the walls of a gallery.
Source: The Guardian
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