Honorable Mention – “Massif” (UK)

Title: Massif
Runtime: 5 min
Country: UK 
Director: Natalia Jezova
Placement: Honorable Mention
Competition: June, 2021

Synopsis: The short film “Massif” (2021) was created as a reaction to my earlier film “1159” (2020), https://vimeo.com/564037639, in which I explored traumatic memories of my family experience during WWII and the Holocaust in Lithuania through concepts of “post memory” and “silenced history”. In “1159”, landscape images, devoid of people, conveyed the violent and traumatic consequences through the use of sound – the sound filled with the presence of people is clearly in contradiction to the peaceful landscape.

For “Massif”, the pianist and composer Louis Durra was inspired to create a new soundtrack to accompany the visual footage from “1159”, which brought a new “reading” and a hope for “deep wounds healing”.

The film consists of long takes, where we see only the landscape devoid of the presence of human life. Applying the use of long takes makes it possible to feel the real flow of time within the film and gives viewers the opportunity to experience a more detailed visual exploration, one that increases their emotional involvement in the story. During long takes, viewers who are unfamiliar with the scene represented in the film can have enough time to “feel inside” the scene.

Between the long takes, Louis Durra decided to use a “shuttering effect”, perceiving this as “a resetting of the senses” – like pauses between sentences, a silence between phrases in music or the closing of one’s eyes. The effect awakes expectation, or even impatience – which is a very different effect to what is experienced from continuing to show footage or an image, or cutting to something else. Whether the transitions in and out of blackness are sudden or gradual, the timing seems to matter a lot here, as indeed it does everywhere – in art, in dialogue, in life.