Fall is here, and with its chilly arrival we get sweaters, hot drinks, and the Vancouver International Film Festival! Now in its 35th year, VIFF is showing a series of short films to go with the usual array of international features. The shorts are sorted into four overarching themes, and I got the chance to watch a few from each before they premier this October. Today I spill my feelings for the “Ain’t Love a Many-Splendoured Thing” category, which is showing down at the SFU Goldcorp Center for the Arts on October 7th and 9th.
Don’t Leave Me (No Me Quites) from director Laura Jou, Spain.
The film tells a time old story. One we keep coming back to on screen, in pages, and through life. Just a girl, standing in front of a guy, asking him to love her. The film is equal parts evocative, frustrating, and heartstring-tugging. All in all, a pretty realistic portrayal of the desperation love leaves in its wake.
It’s a familiar tune they’re singing, so the director drops us straight into the end of the relationship’s downward spiral. The first few shots have some heavy shaky-cam action going on, but as the story progresses the cinematography shifts to a lot of over the shoulder and close up shots, which puts more focus on the dialogue and characters.
There are only two, a girl named Laura and a guy named Luis, but really that’s all the film needs. The actors are amazing, and their expressive delivery left me feeling conflicted about who to root for in the fight.
The entire film begins, ends, and sort of settles in Laura’s homey apartment, lit in the soft fluorescent way directors like to intensify situations in, and boy did it work. There’s nothing as vulnerable and human as a person barefoot in their own home. Little household sounds make it all the more intimate, a creaky door, some muted neighbours, or a lock clicking into place.
Don’t Leave Me is for the people who read Ain’t Love a Many-Splendoured Thing with a tinge of sarcasm in their voice. It’s not a happy story, or a particularly original one, but it’s told well and hits you where it counts.
Sparrow’s Flight from director Tom Schroeder, USA
Sparrow’s Flight tells the story of two introverts who found each other and decided to create art through stop motion animation. It’s a friendship story, which is refreshing when most of the love you see on screen is the romantic kind. After that, any kind of summary is subject to interpretation because of how abstract the entire thing is.
Most of the film is a self-aware documentary of how it came to be, told through layers and layers of different media held together by Schroeder’s narration. It’s impressive, when you think about how much work goes into stop motion anything. And kind of bittersweet when he dedicates the film to Dave Herr, his friend and art director who passed away before the film could be finished.
The final film is beautifully absurd. A lot of images and sounds are flying around, and the only thing grounding you really is Schroeder’s voice throughout it all. He’s calm and patient when animated bunnies and pencilled eyeballs are filling the screen. And eventually you do get to see the film the two introverts, Schroeder and his late friend, worked on. It’s three minutes long, and about the closest you’ll get to a plot in the film, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
This film makes me feel the same way any piece of abstract art does. I’m not quite sure what to make of it, but I’m sure I don’t dislike it. If you want to watch something different, non-linear, and unique beyond belief, give Sparrow’s Flight a go. It definitely gives you a lot to think about.
You can find out more about VIFF and all that they have coming up at https://www.viff.org/Online/default.asp