Welcome to Cult Critic’s new monthly column, the Winner’s Circle.
Each month we’ll bring you short reviews from our writers’ top five favorites, picked from the winning entries in our film festivals.
May Winner’s Circle reviews by Triptiyan Chatterjee
“Eve” — a Winner’s Circle favorite, directed by Lorenzo Maria Chierici
GENRE: Short film, Students’ film
LENGTH: 16 min. 4 sec
Loosely based on James Joyce’s “Eveline” — the film “Eve” emphasizes the conflict between responsibility, promises, and self-satisfaction. Love is the theme of this film, while responsibility and promise have their own place.
In particular, the film weaves Arabic and Italian languages throughout, shedding light on the difference in the character’s cultures. As a result, we know that the two characters, Eve and Frank are the classic star-crossed lovers.
Eve’s promise to her mother on the woman’s deathbed, to take care of the family for the rest of her life, conflicts with Frank’s desire to take her away to Buenos Aires and make a new home.
No wonder the choice Eve must make between her love for Frank and her commitment to her family tears her apart.
In the end, a story of the struggle between romantic love and the love and obligation one feels for their family is a timeless tale that no doubt, belongs in the Winner’s Circle.
“East Angel” — directed by Rafael Maiolino
GENRE: Short film
LENGTH: 27 min 19 sec
A mysterious secret culture and high school life weave together in “East Angel.” In this world, witchcraft and lost souls combine to highlight a destabilized urban lifestyle and deep-rooted elitist psychology in which outsiders are considered lesser life forms.
What’s more —
“East Angel” sends a message regarding the limits of independence and society’s poor choices in the name of freedom.
From the first shot, and throughout the film, we see a hand of a mysterious woman touching the leaves of the foliage that our protagonist passes each day on her way to school. It’s as if this unknown entity is somehow controlling the girl’s life.
Maiolino brings us a film with a uniquely different dimension and engaging dialogue. Between the excellent script and production by Pedro Minas — Plus the moody cinematography, and lighting — Maiolino’s “East Angel” is an excellent pick to highlight in the Winner’s Circle.
“Good Morning America” — directed by Krishna Thirupathy
GENRE: Short film
LENGTH: 7 minutes 5 seconds
Within a short span, Krishna Thirupathy sets up a few shots to uniquely narrate the short film, “Good Morning America.” Our protagonist, Akhtar, turns on the television to a scene that makes him understand for the first time, the implications of racial profiling in America.
Though the specific event is left untold, we can guess that the wave of ethnic violence which spreads across America in the film is alluding to the war in Syria.
Every posture and gesture of the lone character, Akhtar, creates a language that needs no dialogue. The sound of the television and glimpses of a newspaper in the film tell the story of racism in America.
At its core, “Good Morning America” is a glimpse of significant social issues across the globe.
“The Idealist” — directed by Amir Rezazadeh
GENRE: Short film
LENGTH: 11 min. 13 Sec
The Winner’s Circle short film “The Idealist” is a story of two identities that live inside of one person. Above all, the film is an in-depth study filled with psychoanalysis regarding the idle imagination.
At first, the central character of the film is in her backyard, overlooking the ocean. She’s having wine, reading a book, and appearing to doze off when suddenly she hears someone calling for help. Of course, she rushes to the water, jumps in, and swims out to rescue the apparently drowning man.
In this context, we can imagine that swimming is symbolizing the journey in life. Conversely, the act could represent being swept away by imagination.
Although the film contains no dialogue, other than the murmur of the river and the shout for help, they are a narration of sorts, to some deep meaning in life.
Above all, gorgeous cinematography and natural acting make the film intriguing and keep us engaged.
“The Idealist” lives far from the madding crowd. Here Editing and other technical aspects of the film are less important than the theme, or the message that the human mind is capable of expansive imagination.
A Winner’s Circle favorite — “Johnny Colorado”
Directed by Alejandro Espinoza and Michael Benton
COUNTRY: United States
GENRE: Short film
LENGTH: 18 min 34 sec
“Johnny Colorado” may come off as a pop-culture comedy, but at its roots, the short film deals with a universal crisis in human life. Alejandro Espinoza and Michael Benton reflect a deep-rooted psychological analysis with respect to one’s social background.
There are many “Johnnys” among us, but we can’t always identify them. The film explores the subconscious attitude of humanity that entices us to wear a facade for others.
Johnny has this inner struggle, suffering from the fear of losing. Outwardly, he’s a showman with a big attitude. When in reality he wants to cover up his weaknesses by being bigger than life. The story starts with Johnny in a job interview and we understand who he is, immediately.
The use of editing highlights “Johhny Colorado’s” theme, which is ultimately a lesson in identity that teaches us if we spend all of our time trying to make ourselves into someone based on other people’s opinions, we will most-likely forget who we are inside.
“Johnny Colorado” examines this ever-increasing problem in our society and individually in a comedic masterpiece.
Read more from Triptayan Chatterjee.
Triptayan is a filmmaker looking for a different horizon. Earlier a journalist Triptayan has done intensive research on film language and made different documentaries so far. He is now concentrating upon feature film in a vast landscape. Professionally a teacher, Triptayan has also passion for making films threaded with international and universal thoughts.