Three thought-provoking short films by SFU students

The Film Student Union’s new online collection features experimental shorts

PHOTO: Courtesy of Yousif Kairee

By: Hailey Miller, Staff Writer

Genesis is an archive collection of 11 short films from students in the Film Student Union at SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts (SCA). All films are available for screening online on the SCA’s website. Some students in other majors among the SCA were also involved in these short films for contributions in composing scores, acting, and assisting in production. Below is a review of three that stood out to me.

A grainy photo of a gray sky with a group of crows flying.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Colleen Bayati

Birds I View (2023)
Directed by Colleen Bayati

This short by Bayati, a third-year year film student, features a bird’s-eye view of settings and objects up close with a comedic background narrative about the narrator’s hatred of birds — voiced by six individuals and accompanied by differing camera angles. Everyday settings such as city streets, landscapes, skylines, and stairwells are filtered by a dreary atmosphere and a grainy, shaking camera effect. Bayati’s use of camera angles achieves what she describes as “an experimental hybrid film.” Although the perspective of the birds is mundane and comical throughout, the portrayal of these creatures reminded me of the wonder of birds in their natural habitat. The soundscape, which includes both audible dialogue and buzzing insect sounds, adds dynamic to the piece. The different camera angles and cuts between scenes lets the audience experience how a bird — or an insect — would typically observe their world. This approach creates a seamless effect of varying points of view from short clips compiled together. 

A record player displaying Bossa Nova and Iron Maiden album covers.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Mimi Huszti and Carlo Marchet

Breaking the Silence (2022)
Directed by Mimi Huszti and Carlo Marchet 

Both first-year film students, Huszti and Marchet’s work features the everyday sounds of a person’s morning routine. They become more disturbed by these mundane noises as the morning progresses. Huszti and Marchet’s audio techniques heighten the experience of discomfort — I felt as though I was living vicariously through the main character’s emotions. The directors focus on minute sounds: a boiling kettle, a ticking clock, and a train whistle in the distance. The sounds and instrumental components, like orchestral and synth music, become more chaotic and fast-paced as the character’s unsettled behaviour rises. Huszti and Marchet shed a new light of curiosity onto what would otherwise be a mundane morning.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Yousif Kairee

Marigold (2023)
Directed by Yousif Kairee 

This short by a first-year film student features the protagonist’s internal dialogue being narrated and spoken aloud as she combs through memories of past events. She begins with optimism about her dreams to attain fame, before spiralling toward self doubt as she questions her worth and success, recalling an argument with a friend. Sound and audio effects, like distorted background noise as the main character narrates her thoughts, heighten her internal contradictions. It felt as if I were experiencing them alongside her, and as though I was placed in the same atmosphere as her thoughts. Camera angles and settings vary as the person shifts from self-confidence to disappointment, and questions her worth. Kairee’s approach to filmmaking is realistic yet experimental at the same time. 

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