We Are One Film Festival: Day Eight
Online Screen Editor, Jim Norman, shakes off the idea of ‘Mum’s the word’ in his coverage of We Are One day eight
The eighth day of the We Are One Film Festival showcased yet another anthology film from SFF. Yet unlike The Bridges of Sarajevo, a collection of films that I found to be disjointed and poorly balanced, SEE Factory is a far better composed piece. Focussing around maternal relationships, this is a collection of five short films, directed by ten filmmakers from an impressive 13 different countries. Each story is original and distanced from those that surround it, yet it is its running maternal theme that transforms this film into a mother loving depiction of life.
The collection – made up of ‘In Your Hands,’ ‘The Package,’ The Right One,’ Spit,’ and ‘The Sign’ – presents five differing views of motherhood, from those that we are familiar with seeing to those that are rarely shown in popular culture. This results in the collection never falling into cliché, as each display of familiarity is clashed against surprising narratives. Šarović and Engelhart’s ‘In Your Hands’, which appears as a European reimagining of Lady Bird, is coolly contrasted by the Grandma/Granddaughter relationship explored in Veninova and Rozenkier’s ‘The Sign’.
the mothers immediately appear suited to their world, undoubtedly a product of the differing visions achieved by the collection’s international filmmakers
As is so often the case, there is one standout feature in the collection and while the other films are certainly able to hold their own, the ambition and re-watchability of Djukić and Tzafka’s ‘The Right One’ places it head and shoulders above its peers. Structured around a simple narrative of a woman meeting her boyfriend’s mother for the first time, ‘The Right One’ immediately plays into a history of out-of-one’s-depth comedy that has long dominated the genre. With its single take and static camera, the film visually sets itself the challenge of maintaining its cinematic form through a structure that initially feels like that of a one act play. The witty dialogue, accurate mother-isms (‘Have you thought about children?’), and an impressively constrictive use of aspect ratio had me immediately going back to it again in an attempt to spot everything that I missed.
Young or old, rich or poor, present or absent, each short film is clearly influenced by its directors’ personal ideas of what it means to be a mother in the modern world. ‘The Sign’ holds a monochromatic colour palette in its exploration of the elderly mother figure desperate for a return to the past, while ‘The Package’ employs the use of bright neon lights and jazz music as it presents the contrasting young single mum. In each instance the mothers immediately appear suited to their world, undoubtedly a product of the differing visions achieved by the collection’s international filmmakers.
In all different walks of life, the collection promotes mum’s the word. This quiet depiction of motherhood is both a touching and accurate display of affection without ever grouping the lived experience into one cinematic ideal.