The Journal of Short Film: Volume V
Every film in this volume is so impressive, so full of the detail and thought that makes a film not just good or even great, but f*cking phenomenal _that it’s difficult to say anything more than _just buy a subscription already. But because I have a word requirement to fulfill, I’ll expound a bit.
The growth of maturity in the quality and storytelling of the films featured shows that the trajectory of The Journal of Short Film is an upward path of a serious film journal with serious talent. From the funny tale of a shoplifting child to a Lynchian-style short about self-sustainability on an increasingly unsustainable planet to an adolescent girl secretly glimpsing her sister’s vulnerabilities, Volume V is a range of documentaries, personal narratives, and historical reflections that travel our memories and identities to ask us who we are and what shaped us into the creatures reflected back in the mirror.
In “Grand Luncheonette,” Peter Sillen reveals himself as the Studs Terkel of film in a moving documentary about the effects of gentrification in New York City’s Times Square. The cinematography and rhythmic narrative in “The Legend of Black Tom,” about a black champion boxer, purposefully masks the more chilling subtext that our construction of history from unreliable memories, especially with influences of nationalism and race can cause us to remember things that never even happened, as Phillip Hastings chronicles in “Reveries From Cistae Memoria.” When filmmaker Sara Zia Ebrahimi documents her travels to Iran to find herself, her origins, and a relationship with her father, she says “I found humans who were flawed like any others,” a reminder, especially with our current state of affairs, that the people we arm against us because of our foreign policy are really the people we become. Hope Tucker touches on this theme with her look into the historical context of a popular American holiday standard written as a “prayer for peace” during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Finally, Joel Fendelman’s “Band of Sisters” recounts the April 2004 pro-choice rally March for Women’s Lives in Washington, DC and captures the emotions of women and men on both sides with such immense poignancy and beauty that I have never been more proud to be a feminist.
While I found Jennifer Levonian’s “You, Starbucks” too short to adequately settle into before its abrupt end, the outstanding selection of Volume V, with a big turnout from Temple University folks, outshines any disappointment her oddly placed film carries and seems more like an unfortunate addendum than anything else. With beauty and poignancy, Volume V outdoes itself in a collection where every film is simply astounding.