The first edition of Aperture: Asia & Pacific Film Festival also features a number of very interesting shorts. Here are three great samples.
Lo Sum Choe Sum (3 Year 3 Month Retreat, 2017) by Dechen Roder (20.51 minutes Bhutan)
Before “Honeygiver Among The Dogs”, Bhutanese Dechen Roder directed this short, which deals with the traditional “3 Year 3 Month Retreat” or “Lo-Sum-Choe-Sum” which is practiced by Buddhist monks, nuns and other devout practitioners. 3 years, 3 months, and 3 days is calculated as the time needed to achieve a higher state of clarity and motivation. By cutting oneself off from the world, and delving into the inner mind, the retreat is supposed to transform the practitioner.
In this case, the ritual takes a metaphoric form as Lhamo, a young woman abandons the place she used to live for three years, experiences a number of events, and then returns back to face her past.
As we watch her spending time in prison, working in a night club and returning to her hometown, Roder makes a harsh remark about the place women hold in Bhutanese society, which seems to be filled with hypocrisy and prejudice towards them, dictated by custom and ideas not belonging to the present time, at least not in non-fundamentalist societies. This trip, however, actually allows her to find the courage to face her awful past, while Roder makes another comment, this time regarding violence.
The cinematography by Jigme T Tenzing is impressive, with a number of images of extreme beauty, that also carry additional meaning, both regarding the main concepts and Lhamo’s psychological situation. The fact that Roder had her protagonist, Dechen Zangmo, silent for the most part, allow the viewer to focus on the image on the one hand, and makes her few words much more impactful on the other
“Lo Sum Choe Sum” is a very interesting short, that highlights a number of aesthetic choices and a general style that was to be fulfilled on “Honeygiver Among The Dogs”
Adults Don’t Say Sorry (2016) by Duong Dieu Linh (13.20, Vietnam)
This short revolves around Mdm Tam, a woman who seems to complain constantly about her husband to her two daughters, and in this case, regarding the fact that the two of them have not spoken for a whole month. When she finds out he is to return home though, quickly she adopts the role of the “wife” again.
Duong Dieu Linh presents a look at a relationship that is actually over, and is only sustained by custom and law, without any feeling existing between the two spouses anymore, as it is eloquently depicted by both Mdm Tam’s words and the finale of the film. The point he makes though, is about the difficulty of abandoning a marriage (or any relationship if you prefer) even in cases like this, where it is actually long since dead. At the same time, Linh makes a point of showing of how a woman wants to feel desired.
Duong Dieu Linh presents his comments with simplicity and minimalism, which allows for it to be quite well depicted, in a short, which, according to her words, “can find its way into the hearts of those who have a mother, those who are becoming a mother, and the mothers themselves”.
Vu Thi Chung portrays the Mdm Tam quite nicely.
The Other (2017) by Will Sankhla (10.49, India)
Every year in India half a million girls are never born. Every hour in India a woman is murdered by a member of her won family. India is one of the five most dangerous countries to be a woman. A voice from the grave.
Will Sankhla makes his point through the aforementioned fact from the beginning, only to present it through a minimalist, almost surreal and dreamy short, that follows the journey of a man through the Ganges and into a city, in search of a woman who no longer seems to exist. The short is split in two parts, with the first one featuring narrative by the aforementioned woman (?) and the second from the man, in an identical parallel that presents the aforementioned statements.
Arnab Gayan’s impressive cinematography, and particularly the way he uses doors to presents his frames, sets the minimalist, eerie tone of the film with the help of Nikhil Mulay’s music. The narrative is a bit vague, but this issue is addressed through the intro and the finale, with the phrase “I Lost you” and the last sequence making the point quite clear.