New Shorts: The Empathic Gaze
Wednesday, 19 January 2022
Image: Junko, Minsho Limbu, 2021
‘Empath, noun - (chiefly in science fiction) a person with the paranormal ability to perceive the mental or emotional state of another individual.’
Through the watchful lens of their directors, these films invite us to look closer at the private, the profound and sometimes painful elements that make us. They are concerned with the act of looking, and the inherent power of being seen. The myriad ways women alter their appearance to appease the patriarchy, the unexpected agency of a jilted lover, the intricacies of depicting the autistic subject; these films enact a common desire to peer beyond the inscrutable and to see ourselves and others with compassion.
Curated by Varun Raman
Five From Thirty
Upon turning 25, Darnell can not shake the feeling of under accomplishing as he steadily approaches 30. It seems as though everyone is doing better than him, based on social media. Whilst working a shift at a boutique hotel, he meets a very successful actor who dispels the myth.
Drawing on Autism
Drawing on Autism is an investigation into the ethics of creating animated documentaries. As a non-autistic filmmaker, representing an autistic participant, the director needed to be mindful of the well-rehearsed and problematic tropes about autism. These tropes seem to say more about the desires and needs of neurotypical audiences than they do about their autistic subjects. Moreover, animation presents a distinct set of ethical dilemmas. Without the mechanical indifference of a camera, the act of observation is substituted for representation. A mode of representation where the artist is responsible for how the documentary participant looks, where they are, and what they do.
According to Thai superstition, a virgin can ward off rain by planting lemongrass upside-down underneath an open sky. This belief remains prevalent to this day.
As clouds begin to gather, a young production manager on a film set is tasked to carry out this tradition. As her fellow female co-workers shy away from the duty, she is left with no choice but to take on the burden of becoming the lemongrass girl.
A newlywed girl is left to live with her mother when her husband leaves to find work in India. He gives her a mobile phone as he departs, and this is to be the sole method of communication between the couple. She waits patiently for her husband to call, but it is in vain.
As days pass, longingness turns to loneliness, then resignation to resolve. The girl and her mother ultimately find solace in each other in this affecting film about solitude, abandonment, and self-actualization.
The Many Faces of Ava
Ava is a woman who changes her face according to whatever scenario she finds herself in. When a day at work doesn’t yield the results she expects, Ava’s many faces mesh together in a psychedelic cataclysm that threatens to derail her day-to-day life.