This year, the twelve selected American short films question the role of memory as the keeper of an inner space where images of a past existence attempt to encounter a quickly fading present. In this world where everything moves too fast, the existence of our protagonists is hanging on by a thread, an object, place or being that might allow them to become the subject of their own stories again.
The first programme delves into a young woman’s gaze, who reminisces on a wet hot summer, and the body of a neighbor as a dark object of desire: in Tij D’oyen’s Lollygag, every move is scrutinized with infinite sensuality. The body is also observed from up close in Emory Chao Johnson’s film, To Write From Memory, where skin embraces the protagonist’s new identity and confronts his mother’s harshness – she denies the transition, desperately hanging on to an image of the past. Idealized eras that Zach Weintraub attempts to question in Rad Dad, staging himself and his baby in an attempt to find the old him for an afternoon. Sara Gunnarsdóttir similarly invites us to explore Pamela Ribon’s memories in My Year of Dicks, in which the young woman looks back at her unsucessful dating years. Gradually, she’ll get away from her preconceived ideas to build a healthier relationship with herself. In Catalog ‘93, Grau Del Grau invites us to wander across the pages of an old fashion catalogue where a perfectly labeled world is given to us. But what if we didn’t want any of it? What if we simply wished to exist outside of the established framework? Cricket Arrison may have found the solution to fend off this fate. In Some Day All This Will Be Yours, Cricket leaves a message for the child she will never have, in the house where she did not live happily. There, she drops off a legacy of dust and allows herself to live more freely.
The second programme opens on a dehumanized Manhattan where Carol’s heart problem confronts her to the American healthcare system’s failures, in Sam Shainberg’s film, Endless Sea. On the other side of the United-States, in a small city in Oregon, we meet action-hungry Cam, the protagonist of The Dalles by Angalis Field. The object of his desire is a cyclist who came looking for a secret poetic place, that summons more than carnal pleasure. Going off-road is something Anna cannot do. Although she is an adult, she needs her mother to take care of her. What to do then, when she finds her mother lifeless? In Take Me Home, Liz Sargent puts her sister in a delicate situation where the question of caring for a person with cognitive disorders requires more than just some time to think. Precious time that Meredith Moore attempts to preserve thanks to the power of special effects in Margie Soudek’s Salt and Pepper Shakers. She attempts to immortalize her grandmother’s eponymous collection, gathered through the ages, in an explosive animation. Everything becomes possible with a bit of imagination, like the existence of a mountain lion near Ramona and Lenny’s in Goldilocks by Meryl Jones. In this ecological tale, Meryl challenges us on the importance of communication within a family, and the necessity of empathy to become one with the world in which we live. Nobody knows this better than Walker, in Breaking Silence by Amy Bench and Annie Silverstein, who fights everyday through force of fate and his daughter’s help, for the rights of deaf and hard-of-hearing inmates in American prisons, and to make their voices heard.
Chantal Lian, Head of American Selections