Arena (2009)

“Arena” (2009)

IMDb

big form in a small package

This film is special, in Portugal, for the Portuguese. Why? simply because it won an award, at Cannes. No one knew the director, a very young one. In other words, someone outside of Portugal considered a Portuguese to have done a good work, good enough to award with a golden palm for best short film. This goes straight to the heads and genitals of the Portuguese: the guy has to be good! Oddly enough, the hype the award created was not strong enough. A year past that, no one still talks about Salaviza in Portugal. Very few have seen this film. Yet those who remember the guy’s name “know” he is really good. That’s how it works around here. That’s why interesting creative work has great trouble in moving from obscurity into any kind of public visibility: there just aren’t enough golden palms to award anything that matters slightly in Portugal.

I wouldn’t have probably heard of this short if it hadn’t been for the award. And definitely it would not have been shown in theatres before a major feature film if it wasn’t for that. That’s sad. But anyway, i wanted to see it. I didn’t want to be a member of the hype effect without knowing what i was talking about.

The film IS interesting. I really find it very very hard to make an interesting structure to a short film. I think it’s harder to build a gripping short script than a large feature film. That’s because stories are usually what gets the audiences to follow the film. And short films simply have to take a great number of shortcuts, it’s inherent to their nature. So most of them simply give up on trying to “tell a story” and become “concept” films, abstract ideas exploited through some catchy visuals. So, this film has the value of having a true narrative to it. And its strenght is in how, in the short forms, it follows its story while falling in a meditative, contemplative mood, which seemed to be a main preoccupation here. The theme is heavy and the performances are surprisingly impressive!: controlled yet intense. That was the best part.

Visually i think the film worked as a laboratory to its director/crew. among some cleverly conceived shots, i highlight one, at the top of the building, when the camera moves down and slightly sideways; we start with a frame that is mainly construction and a bit of sky (and our character in the middle) and the subtle movement of the camera gets to move into a frame which only includes the blue sky and the torso/head of our character. Very good.

My opinion: 3/5 good within the limits short films have for storytellers.

This comment on IMDb

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