Responsibility. Where does it begin and end? What are the penalties of not living up to it? Two short films have an odd connection based on this premise. While big budget features offer the massive box office payoff (or debt depending on success), short films are seeing a big upswing in notoriety. The talent found both in front of and behind the camera appreciates the freedom to create without the need to unify a large group of the viewing public. More freedom leads to more creativity and…well, you can see where this train of thought is headed. It all leads back to the idea of responsibility which is what the films Niko and The Promise have in common. Exploring this idea and presenting it in vastly different ways, these stories serve as an example in regards to the range which one idea can possess when done so with creative freedom.
Niko is a short thriller and dark comedy film written/directed by Turkish filmmaker Ilgar Ozturk screened at various festivals like the Manhattan Film Festival, IFS Film Festival (where it won Best International Short Film), Festival De Cannes Short Film Corner, and others. The story is every bit as violent and rough as a Tarantino film and yet offers up some gratifying twisted humor. The plot juxtaposes reality and imagination as a screenwriter (played by Charlie Woods) causes the main character of his writing, a thuggish middle aged man named Niko (played by Michael Merrins), to be separated from his girlfriend. His attempts to reunite are continuously and callously thwarted by the (somewhat inebriated) writer until Niko finds the means to break out of the script and enter into our reality, much to the surprise and detriment of said writer. There’s an underlying warning in regards to how we treat others that is comparable to the current Virtual Intelligence debate.
Thai Filmmaker Nongkhran Meecharoen wrote and directed the socially conscious film The Promise which depicts one family’s experience with Alzheimer’s. A husband’s search for his elderly wife who struggles from this disease is as painful as one might expect but also endearing in the portrayal of their commitment during a difficult season of their lives.
Louis Lee (Managing Director and Founder of Interasia and Associates, producers of these films) is a shared element of both productions. Both of these films also share an editor in Amir Heshmati. Due to the odd POV and timeline in both of these films, it was key for Lee to enlist the most talented of editors. Niko breaks down the wall between creator and creation, ultimately climaxing in a confrontation between them. Due to the nature of Cathy’s (played by Deborah Berman) disease, The Promise needed to empathize and relate some of her confusion and disorientation to the viewer. Heshmati’s contributions in these terms for both films is profoundly felt and a key factor in carrying the emotional tone of both storylines.
What the creative arts and film in particular is so adept at achieving is to help us examine our own actions and lives by experiencing the possibilities firsthand via a proxy…granted to us by the cast and crew of films such as these. Through witnessing what others deal with and the repercussions of their actions (or inactions) we can avoid a major misstep. Of course, the fact that we are entertained during this process is equally as important and appreciated.