The PBS Online Film Festival comes to a close today. As I was trying to decide my overall choice to encourage others to consider, I realized the overwhelming number of quality short films I watched over the past week. Calls From Home: Prison Radio in Appalachia andYou’re Dead to Me all spoke to me on a humanistic level. My Dear Americans touched my heart, as I said before. Westland and Lady Thunderhawks spotlighted big fish in little ponds. Yet, somehow I am drawn to the more experimental (and animated!) side of the festival. My top two picks are both animated and present thought-provoking questions through their animated style.
The Yellow Wallpaper
Based on a short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper focuses on a woman confined to her room as her insanity is increased by the patriarchal demands of society. Filmmaker Nidhi Reddy captures her emotional duress through various animated techniques — the chaotic, shaky lines caused my own skin to crawl. As the woman picks away at the wallpaper with the audio overlay of beauty tips, I felt her pain and wished she could expose the hypocrisy buried beneath the walls. Admittedly, I had to watch the film twice before I fully grasped the message, but I believe this increased my adoration for Reddy’s work. If a film goes beyond a surface level understanding, it’s good in my books.
In my previous blog, I mentioned Will as a patriotic short film. The director cleverly uses graphic matching between a yo-yo and a man falling out of a building to show the fundamental desire in most humans to turn back time after a tragic event occurs. Positioning a child at the helm of the story (and in the midst of the 9/11 terrorist attacks) also tugs at the heartstrings further. Though I’m usually not a fan of American hooplah in droves, I believe Will drives an important message home and reflects on the families affected, not the attackers.
In the end, my vote will go to The Yellow Wallpaper for the sheer discomfort Reddy’s animation produced. If you have not yet seen The Yellow Wallpaper (or any of the films listed above), I encourage you to do so and cast your vote on the PBS Online Film Festival webpage. Your vote could make a difference in the life of an up-and-coming filmmaker in need of a break (or, heck, a vote of confidence!) to continue what their life’s passion has led them to do. Film is an important medium, let’s keep it that way in the age of digital information and its super highway.