The Philadelphia Film Society hosted its monthly showcase on Feb. 3, in an exhibition that highlighted new projects from Philly’s up–and–coming filmmakers. It was only fitting that the selected films for the February showcase be a tribute to Valentine’s Day. Each film centered on different realms of love—falling into them and falling out. I sat in a theater bathed in red and blue light, happily sipping on my complementary pilsner, and watched three short films, ranging from ten to thirty–five minutes each.
Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina principle describes: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” I'd venture to say that this theory applies to relationships, too. Each film presented romantic relationships that had fallen from happiness and were now stumbling through the aftermath. Michael Long’s No One Else features two people seeing each other for the first time since their breakup, struggling to find friendship. Chike Nwabukwu’s Baby Steps depicts two separated parents attempting to get along for the sake of their child. Finally, Steven Gandolfo’s Like depicts a neurotic twenty–something stuck in a miserable relationship, fantasizing about a girl he met via Facebook. Each film contained unhappy people, all subtly discontent in their different ways.
The cinematography and production value certainly elevated with each film. Understandably so, these projects were low–budget, which often resulted in muffled audio or editing glitches. This being said, the weaker points of the films seem to have just been a result of carelessness and inattention. Michael Long revealed in a Q&A session post–viewing that he completed his project in under a day. At times, it seemed as though a bit more attention would have seasoned the film. Long was dependent on his theory that intimacy is most effectively conveyed through close shots. And this showed, as film only had about three or four wide shots throughout the entire ten–minute movie. The combination of low–budget production and unvarying filming techniques ultimately resulted in his film packing a less powerful punch than it had the potential to land.
Every one of the films seemed to prioritize visual allure over realistic dialogue or acting. This was true for the writing in Steven Gandolfo’s film "Like." in its careless insensitivity. There were multiple times when his characters comedically referred to online dating as a gateway for girls getting raped. If more time had been dedicated to developing the characters, such instances of poor taste could have been avoided. That being said, some of the most striking moments of these films were when there was no dialogue—just visuals. Where the acting or the dialogue tripped, the film's cinematography glittered through.
This showcase would be a wonderful evening activity to do with friends or family. The entire event only lasted about an hour and twenty minutes, and like I said—free beer! Catch next month’s viewing at the Prince Theater.