Lynn Cheikh Moussa
Lights out, audience ready. In order of appearance, here are the reviews of all the films presented at AUB’s second annual short film festival.
“Err” by Ayeesha Starkey
Starkey’s film is set from the perspective of a young man fantasizing about a young woman on the cover of a magazine. Whatever he cuts out and pastes on the TV the woman is on ultimately gets zapped into it. Ultimately, he pastes his own picture.
The judges praised Starkey for creating such a witty trick in the movie, but Abu Chakra indicated that she had missed the crucial difference between a trick and a short film.
The film holds the viewer’s interest but Starkey’s focus was too keen on keeping the audience confused, which blurred the lines between interesting and baffling. The events of the film felt very rushed, giving rise to a number of unanswered questions. Starkey’s movie, although witty, was lacking.
- “Elevator” by Marwa Traboulsi
Traboulsi’s film tells the story of a girl who becomes frustrated with a boy for spilling coffee on her. Eventually, both end up in the elevator, sharing silent jokes and smiles about the individuals who join them. The judges found the film cute and friendly.
The movie first appeared as a stereotypical love story. In this perspective, the ending was pleasantly surprising. The elevator scenes stretched on, but the movie was a clever play on the concept of “the one that got away,” pointed out judge Avant. Overall, it was a fun movie to watch, but it seemed to be very similar to “Err” as the ending was a witty trick rather than the ending of a story.
- “Twenty” by Nour Massalkhi
“Twenty” is a unique and exceptional film. It neither includes a protagonist nor a plot. Rather, Massalkhi illustrated the feelings and experiences of being a twenty-year-old individual. The judges praised Massalkhi’s film, finding it relatable and heartfelt. Daccache commented that adding a protagonist could have made this film better. Massalkhi’s film ultimately tied for second prize, earning a $300 cash prize.
“Twenty” touched a soft spot amongst those within the same age group, and even within those in older age groups. However, the shots used by Massalkhi could have been more illustrative with regards to her monologue, and the storyline could have been told differently through the use of one protagonist’s experiences. However, the film did succeed in its delivery and carried words that resonated.
- “Citizen and Human” by Noura Baghdadi
This movie plays upon the same concept as the one preceding it, with a different execution and narrative. It follows a masked girl, who is there to give life to the monologue read over. The film discusses what it is like to be a citizen in Lebanon, and how it conflicts with the people’s’ identity as humans, overshadowing it.
Baghdadi’s film contained a strong message to citizens in a country overcome with turmoil, one that often rids us of our human identities. She tackled an issue relevant to all individuals living in the current sociopolitical sphere of the region. Despite this, the movie would have been much simpler and direct had it not dragged on, as mentioned by the judges. Maybe Baghdadi’s technical complexities were made to emphasize her message, but the fine line between emphasis and repetition was sadly crossed.
- “Recovery” by Salwa Mansour
The opening scene of Mansour’s film is a video of herself talking to a voice through Skype and telling them all the ways in which she has gotten better ever since they parted. As narrated throughout the film, she had begun eating more, exercising more, and overall, becoming a happier person. Yet, towards the end, it is revealed that the voice is her eating disorder. The judges expressed their love for the idea, but Daccache communicated that she would have also liked to see more of the story. “Recovery” also tied for second place and won $300.
The last scene truly changed the course of the entire story. However, I would have liked to see more of the story as well, rather than have it end so surprisingly. Perhaps Mansour ended it so abruptly so as to maintain an air of shock. Nevertheless, she left us all in awe. It was a job well-done.
- “About Two People” by Sarah Inkidar
The title is rather self-explanatory; “About Two People” describes the story of two people who fall in and out of love. It starts with a girl facing the camera and acting out the story as the monologue plays over it. The second person never shows, but the events are easily understandable. Before the break-up, the girl loses herself, and begins to excessively drink. The judges found this film quite entertaining, commenting on the paradoxical sharp delivery of the message and fun vibe throughout. The film won first place, earning a cash reward of $700.
Inkidar’s production is simple, involving a camera, an actress, a monologue, and one scene that never changes. Yet, this film proved that you neither need an extensive production crew nor amazing equipment to create a remarkable film. It was humorous, fun, and enjoyable, but I hoped to see just a little more scenery in the background to reflect upon the nuances in the girl’s experience.
- “Crunch” by Serene Habbal
Set between the familiar shelves of Jafet, the story begins with a girl trying to study for her upcoming exam. She is asked to leave the library after fighting with a guy who constantly clicks his pen and crunches his chips. They meet again, setting out on a journey to find a new study spot.
The judges commented that the film was humorous, yet too long. Daccache distinctly commented that it was “overly stuffed,” and Avant remarked that the ending could have been much more eccentric rather than this simple.
“Crunch” is an insight into the everyday life of an average AUB student, which is why it is an enjoyable movie to watch. It gives us a different perspective of things, and how sometimes, we can take it easy and enjoy the little instances. I agree with the judges concerning the length; it was perhaps too long, which at some point leaves viewers on edge.
- “Right Behind Her Tape” by Tia Murr
A young woman dressed in a skirt and an off-the-shoulder top is walking down the streets of Mar Mikhael, and stops to take pictures. She is catcalled, and forced to leave. The next day, she returns in pants and a sweater. The same man catcalls her again, and begins touching her. She attempts to fight him until, suddenly, a second man appears and saves her. A scene portrays a stretch of tape masking her mouth. The judges appreciated Murr’s idea, which took them beyond the limits of the AUB campus. They commented on the excessive use of the expressions by the actress, but still emphasized on the importance of the topic Murr tackled.
Murr’s film is an eye-opener, depicting the harsh reality of street harassment. It ends powerfully, with an ode to all women who empower themselves and refuse to conform to these standards. However, the same idea could have been delivered with simpler expressions. Overall, Murr did a wonderful job with her film.