We Are One Film Festival: Day Ten
Online Screen Editor, Jim Norman, concludes his coverage of We Are One with a retrospective look at the festival
Day ten marks the final day of the We Are One Film Festival. The past week and a half has been full of great programming and a host of stellar filmmaking talent. I would like to use this final day of coverage as a retrospective of sorts, considering the festival as a whole and looking to the future of streamed programming.
Before I start blabbering on about the past 10 days however, I would first like to briefly discuss Forever’s Gonna Start Tonight, the 2011 short film from Eliza Hittman, which was shown on the final day of the festival. The director of the lockdown streaming hit, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Hittman’s short film provides an interesting case study for how her style has developed.
The plot, a young girl escapes the confines of her Brooklyn flat for a night out clubbing with her friend, is lacking and the characters are difficult to align with. However there remains much to be appreciated. The Safdie-esque shaky camera work provides a docu-realism to the entire piece, with a melancholy grey wash that melts even the brightest clothes into their dull background. There is never a specific date assigned to the film, but the costuming, which seems to have been stolen directly from an early Spice Girls’ wardrobe, drenches the film in a nostalgic familiarity which makes its strong-willed female lead all the more powerful a depiction.
I wanted to draw attention to Forever’s Gonna Start Tonight because I feel that it acts as a strong summary of my opinions on the festival as a whole. There is no doubt that the We Are One programme has been both engaging and educational, championing unheard voices from around the world in a manner that never seemed performative. It should also be noted that We Are One is the first of its kind. Film festivals are generally some of the largest events in the cinematic calendar so it should come as no surprise that this smaller scale festival was more of a candle than a firework.
Without an audience, it is difficult to feel that group bond which can only be experienced by sitting in a cinema
What I am building up to suggesting is that the festival has left me slightly underwhelmed. The films that I have tuned in for daily have each had their merits but the majority of them have only been able to peak my interest for a short period of time before they blurred into the rest of the programme. Beyond the Mountain and Wrath of Silence have each been respective high points, introducing me to the wider scope of world cinema and keeping me completely engaged throughout their running time.
But these do feel, nonetheless, like diamonds in the rough. For a trailblazing festival which has brought the programming of Cannes, Tribeca, Sundance and many more to a streaming platform is impressive and holds my absolute appreciation. But the absence of any standout pictures has left me reeling with the realisation of how much of a social activity moviegoing is. Without an audience, it is difficult to feel that group bond which can only be experienced by sitting in a cinema.
The past 10 days have certainly been informative; but, for me, cinemas cannot reopen soon enough.