Currently playing at Music Box Theatre, Cinema/Chicago’s CineYouth Festival showcases short films from young filmmakers ages seven to twenty-two. The festival features work from a total of eight different countries. Festival selections were curated from a total of over four- hundred submissions. Pieces vary in genre, form, and focus, with works ranging from documentary and narrative films to music videos and horror movies. Each piece is under fifteen minutes, and films are programmed in groupings of 5-7 thematically-linked shorts.
Two films in this year’s lineup challenge audiences’ expectations, even in their short running times. Pangaea, directed by Olivia Peace, and NIGHT, directed by Joosje Duk, both subvert the viewer’s assumptions to make broader statements about people in different circumstances than those we find ourselves in. While Duk’s film uses a more linear approach to achieve these goals, Peace’s film takes a more stylized approach, creating a patchwork of visuals and scenes which are brought into focus in a short, final scene.
Olivia Peace’s Pangaea
Pangaea tells the story of a lonely girl stranded on a rooftop desperately trying to return her life to a state of equilibrium after she is separated from her family. Peace’s use of sound and image are particularly evocative in the telling of this story; the lonely girl’s shrill screams amidst the bubbling current of rising water form an effective soundscape of desperation. A montage of rooftops and rain puddles that frames the piece takes on new meaning as the film reaches its close, juxtaposing the safe domesticity of a suburban neighborhood with the loss of homes and life in the wake of a hurricane. Featuring an impressive animation of the formation and separation of the continent Pangaea, Peace’s short film weaves seemingly disparate elements together to leave viewers with a strong message.
Joosje Duk’s NIGHT
Night tells the story of Sue, who hopes that a visit from her cousin Genelva will connect two different parts of her life. At the top of the film, audiences witness Sue, Genelva, and her friends’ preparations for a night on the town, complete with fake IDs to gain admittance into an exclusive club. The cinematography in NIGHT is striking in its use of color palettes, distinguishing between the warmth and frivolity of a night out and the harsh, fluorescent reality of the friends’ experiences immediately after the club. Writer/Director Joosje Duk smartly drops hints throughout the piece that something is amiss, but the subtlety of her actors’ natural performances keeps the audience misdirected until a crucial event. Ultimately, Duk’s deft visual distinction between fantasy and reality helps deliver a simple, yet powerful message about prejudices in daily life.
Editor’s Note: If you missed this year’s CineYouth Festival, know that this is an ongoing initiative of the Chicago Film Festival that recurs each year.
Thursday, May 4 through Saturday, May 6
Music Box Theatre
3733 N. Southport Avenue
Tickets to all events are free and can be obtained by visiting www.chicagofilmfestival.com/cineyouth