I told myself that I was going to make a more conscious effort to see the Documentary and Short Film Oscar submissions this year, and with 'RECORD/PLAY' actually being available online (you can watch it here) I was able to watch this this morning. I've actually seen this ten times already and I want to watch it again, it's that good. The great thing about this little film (it's only ten minutes long) is that it feels so polished, so tight that I'm sad that it's only a short film and not a feature length one. Happily for me (and the rest of the world), this is actually being adapted into a feature film, so it won't be long before we get the full story (or a fuller one).
I do have slight reservations about this, despite being excited. I mean, I wrote a short story once and loved it so much I fleshed it out into a complete novel, but I had to alter things, especially the ending, in order to make it feel fresh again. Is that going to happen here? Is the integrity of this brilliant conceptual piece going to get lost in the expansion? Or, worse yet, is it going to remain true to itself and wind up feeling anticlimactic in the process?
I fear for option 3, where the film becomes a Michael Bay variant as they try and tack onto that open/ended ending.
But let's forget about all that for a minute and talk about Jesse Atlas's marvelous short film, which made Oscar's semi-finalists this year and could very well make it all the way to the podium. I haven't seen any of the other contenders at this point, but 'RECORD/PLAY' has a huge fan-base, and the fact that it has already been green-lit for a feature film says a lot for the industry support.
This is the type of 'message film' that feels important enough to win, and actually backs it up (so, it would deserve it).
The film stars Mustafa Shakir as a man torn from his true love by war. The film takes place in the 90's, and this man is listening to a cassette recording of his girlfriend's last words to him. She was in Bosnia and apparently never made it home. As he listens to her voice he is transported to her side, but he encounters a series of obstacles (one right after the other), standing the way of his reunion with her. I'll say no more, but the short is increasingly more and more clever with each transportation, and the ending actually brought a tear to my eye. In ten minutes, Atlas and company delivered a serious emotional jolt that took me by surprise and made me a believer.
The technical aspects are so great here too, with a haunting score by Greg Townley that I almost wish was eligible for Oscar consideration (is it?).
All I have left to say is WATCH THIS! One of the highlights of the year for me.