The Long Distance Film Festival, after a successful year, returns again and opens with the “Past” collection for its 2021 show. “Past”, being the first collection out of three along with “Present” and “Future”, begins with ‘Sky Above the Port’ by Gloria Chung with its intriguing visuals that serve the purpose of the opening short film quite well. Such unusual and refreshing styles of directing repeats itself throughout the ninety minute collection of shorts, with pieces like ‘Time’ by Ben Creech being equally creative as a result of its hard to follow compilation of the word “time” which is definitely out of place, but in a catchy sense.
‘To the Girl That Looks Like Me’ by Ewurakua Dawson-Amoah is one of the highlights of the collection. Defined as an experimental poetry piece, the short film deals with spirituality and folklore with an emphasis on celebrating Black women. The beginning of the short film immediately captures the audience with perfect sequence arrangement, great lighting and an amazing color palette. The atmosphere then remains unique throughout the short film. Its creativity is definitely worthy of praise as everything is told through its poetic approach, ending on the perfect note.
Dawson-Amoah’s ‘To the Girl That Looks Like Me’ is then followed by ‘Bambirak’ directed by Zamarin Wahdat, which is centered around a child spending her day with her father on the road in his delivery van as he keeps working. It is a light-hearted perspective on the immigrant experience in Germany, and even though the story takes place in one particular country, its message is universal. ‘Bambirak’ makes a very nice showcase of the interactions of immigrants and locals, all while remaining as realistic as possible. Furthermore, the short film not only sticks to its message, but also creates a bittersweet portrayal of father and daughter relations.
Another piece that catches the eye is ‘Recreation’, which is directed by Duane Peterson III, and it is perhaps one of the most experimental pieces found in “Past”. The director greets the audience with mostly blank landscapes at first, followed by the caption “To photograph is to appropriate the thing being photographed. It means putting oneself into a certain relation to the world that feels like knowledge – and, therefore, like power (Sontag).” Its emphasis on people capturing moments therefore gains meaning through that quote, with the tense sound mixing expressive in its message.
‘You Don’t Have to Thank Me’ by Ella May Sahlman is another instance of captivating moments. With the sentence “the Queer handbook says that the haircut is the next logical step,” the short film points to some cliches while exploring relationships through the lens of two exes as the audience witnesses their conversation. With a simplified camera arrangement that fits the calmness and the direct approach of the short film, the director piques our interest with truthful dialogue that remains realistic until the end. The fact that this short film manages to be relatable to anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, is just another one of its plus-points.
All the other short films are also quite interesting from ‘The Lights Are On, No One’s Home’ by Faye Ruiz with its wonderful color pattern, interesting scene arrangements and hard-hitting dialogue to ‘Instants of Cindy Sherman’ by Federica Faccin with its great visuals, perfectly-fitting music and overall amazing presentation. All in all, the “Past” collection at the Long Distance Film Festival is an enjoyable curation of films that commentates thoughtfully on the concept of the past.