Wives of the Skies (2020)
Wives of the Skies is a short film that I was sent by a PR team to review, and it has now had its upcoming screening at the Picture’s Up Film Festival postponed due to the current pandemic that is going on. Written and directed by Honey Lauren, this short film (set in 1965) tells the story of two stewardesses (played by Rachel Alig and Maddison Bullock) who befriend Derrick (played by Drew Brandon Jones), a British photojournalist who wants to interview them as “subjects” for his “documentary film”.
Between the use of the 1960s production, including the sets and the costumes, as well as the stylised choice of a smaller camera ratio for the documentary sequences, this is a technically superb film that sucks you into the world and what it has to offer. Visually, the entire film is gorgeous and I also adored the promotional material for it, with even the film poster designed as if it came straight from the 1960s.
I found the writing of the story to be incredibly witty and smart, never fully knowing where the plot was going to go or what was going to happen next. Whilst it was clear what the motives of Derrick were, it was great to see the female perspective on that as they played tricks on him throughout. It was really well done and the jokes throughout were really smart. Even when the drama hits near the end, it comes as a surprise but works really well for the subject matter.
It is a shame that this film will take longer for the general public to see because this is a strong short film done on an independent budget. It knows exactly what it wants to do and doesn’t drag on longer than it needs to. Whilst I would have liked to have seen the characters fleshed out more, particularly with the cinematographer, this is a thoroughly entertaining film that I would recommend checking out.
Whilst I try to catch up with all of the nominated short films from this year’s Academy Awards, one that was easy for me to access was the short documentary Life Overtakes Me. Directed by Kristine Samuelson and John Haptas, this short film deals with the subject matter of Resignation Syndrome and how traumatic events can lead to children shutting down their body for a long period of time.
This is a syndrome that I had personally never heard of, so the idea seemed terrifying to me to start with. As a short documentary, I love how the subject matter was handled overall. Not only was I informed about Resignation Syndrome and the effects it has on the child and their whole family, but we also got to experience it through the camera capturing the situation over a long period of time.
What helps make this short film compelling is not only the single storyline of the families and the syndrome, but also the situations surrounding the family that lead to the syndrome developing in the children. This is not simply a case that came about from nowhere, it was one that was brought by the refugee system and the family struggling to come to terms that they do not have a permanent home. This documentary brought about the case that not only is this syndrome awful to witness and to have happen to people so young, but that perhaps the government and legal changes could help prevent this by giving families stability as they rightfully deserve.
This is a powerful short film that lasts approximately 40 minutes, but it is worth the entire runtime. Whilst it is a tough watch for sure, it is one that is very educational in several aspects and something that people should be made aware of. I am glad that the Academy gave this a nomination, and I hope many other people give this a chance too.
Life Overtakes Me is available to watch now on Netflix.
Home Stories (1990)
As part of my university course, the list of films for viewing included one short film: Home Stories. Directed by Matthias Müller and Dirk Schaefer, this short film is composed of numerous film clips from the 1950s, focusing on women in their home. The purpose of the short film is to showcase the similarities between women and the writing of their characters on the big screen in that era, including actresses like Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn.
In a year of films that felt very heavily leaned towards the male gaze and heavy male writing, it was refreshing to see a short film recognise the issues of the past and point them out in such a fun way. The editing style of this, choppy and quick-paced, goes through so many different films and yet manages to connect them so effortlessly. It is shocking to see how many of the actions and performances that these ladies give feel repetitive, even down to the facial expressions and small movements.
This is not a film that tells a story or has a beginning, middle or end. That is not the purpose of this short film. It is not designed to fully entertain the audience or to make them connect to a particular character or emotion. This is a short film that was made to inform the audience, as well as the film industry, of the blunders it has made in the past. It is a short film demanding writers and directors to create more fleshed out roles for their female characters and not to resort to the ways of the past.
For a film this short, this packs a lot of punch. Whilst I cannot say that for entertainment value it is rivetting or engaging, this is one that is worthy of notice and one that can lead to so many conversations even in today’s environment. It is films like these why we need to keep pushing for women’s voices in the film industry, even if we don’t fully know it.
Based on a popular community group on the internet known as the fictional SCP Foundation, 096 tells the tale of the most well-known “special containment procedure” SCP-096, “a humanoid creature that when its face is seen becomes so violent and will stop at nothing until its viewer is decimated”. This film, directed by Klay Abele, covers the aftermath of the event, with an interrogation between Inspector Arlia (played by Stephanie Haff) and Doctor Daniels (played by James Fitzgerald), the person responsible for containing SCP-096.
This film was successfully crowdfunded through Kickstarter, which showed that the team earned a $20k budget for the 23-minute short film. For the amount of visual effect work and big-budget locations that this short film needed to be successful, it is impressive how fantastic it looks for a budget that small. Aside from one or two scenes, which certainly needed a bigger budget to fully work, the use of cinematography and visual effects really help bring this creature to life.
It is in these scenes that the film works the most. The most fascinating part is that of SCP-096 and his powers, therefore letting the film have more creativity and mystery behind it. I have seen many people, including those around me, say that the SCP Foundation could be a good source for a Netflix TV series and given what this film presents, I can see that being a possibility.
However, it is when it comes to the interrogation scenes that this film falls apart. The writing here just does not feel as strong, lending itself to a more cheesy and stereotypical format that is done in a lot of shows and films of this nature. I also sadly found the acting to be lacking, the characters also heavily leaning towards stereotypes and giving over-exaggerated performances. Despite that though, there is plenty to enjoy in this short film and I would overall recommend it for an enjoyable quick watch.
You are able to watch 096 on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEOZkf4imaM
Which of these short films are you most excited to check out? Have you seen any of these films before this review? Let me know all of your thoughts in the comments section and let’s have a discussion.