Between Past and Future

A Review of the Short Film Package ‘Nearest and Dearest’


Humans are social but also individualistic creatures floating in the present determined by both the past and the future. The former shapes the human soul, mind and body, and the latter vigilantly controls all the human actions done – probably in the hope of a brighter future. Time, more precisely the linear and non-linear sequences of events, and human connections influenced by the time spent together or apart play a central role in all of the documentary and fictional shorts presented in Nordisk Panorama’s Nearest and Dearest film package. Used it differently, music and sound smoothly, unnoticeably yet characteristically elevate them to another level, meanwhile, they convey an important social message paradoxically supported by the lack of dialogues and the chosen and/or inescapable silence prevailing.

Weight of Spring (2017) by Norwegian film-maker Erika Calmeyer explores the stages of relationships, relying only on non-verbal communication. The shots, edited together using the transition called fade-out (fade to black), slowly follow each other while the music by Ola Fløttum (The White Birch) develops into a sublime audio experience. Through smiles, tears, passion, respect and acceptance, the mesmerising tableau of twelve relationships, unfolding in front of us as voyeurs, ponders on (the importance of) intimacy. Within just seven minutes and by simply filmed every shot from one camera angle, a map of emotions is presented on the screen. The strength of Calmeyer’s short lies in her unpretentious and plain approach to visualise something so intrinsic as human connections.

Yngvild Sve Flikke’s Apple (2018) shouts out loud that love and sadness are always in the air. Playing with the tone and the narrative, the Norwegian director travels between reality and fantasy, as well as past, present and future. The thirty-minute short is a stylistic exercise moving on the scale of a comedy-drama continuum providing a route from literature to cinema and vice versa. Flikke’s virtuoso directing also manifests in the way she introduces her main characters. Whether or not reflecting on the Biblical story of Adam and Eve, Apple raises some philosophical questions about existence, origins and originality. Approaching the climax of the film, it might seem the clichés have won, but the director flips the coin again, which then falls on the land of surprises, depicting the relationship between a mum and her witty daughter.

Christian Einshøj’s Haunted (2018) was born out of the director’s desire to reconnect with his mum. With the extensive use of voice-over and archival footage, the short paints a portrait of a strong and naturally funny woman who doesn’t afraid of the spiritual. Disguised as a documentary film set to find the ghost haunting his childhood home, Einshøj carefully and patiently captures the essence of a person who has experienced great loss in her life. Nevertheless, the occasionally dosed humour lightens the tone of the film and dark clouds hardly cover the blue sky. The Danish piece demonstrates the director’s willingness to experiment with camera movements and angles as well as a hand-held camera, while he also seamlessly moves the focus from him to his loving and caring mother.

In his short 27 First Years (2018), Jussi Sandhu creatively incorporates archival footage projecting it onto the walls providing a broader context for a touching story of a family facing great challenges but also experiencing great joy. The title itself is slightly misleading. Although the Finnish director sets out to portray his severely disabled older brother Sami, in the end, he pays tribute to his exceptional, nearly superhuman yet reserved mum Anneli. The short concentrates on the event that Sami’s leaving the nest and moving to a home as part of a programme encouraging people with a disability to become more independent. While Sandhu doesn’t formulate a harsh criticism of this programme, it’s quite telling that he shows those moments when others answer the questions in the booklet sent to his brother. Giving insight into the hardships of nurturing a child with a disability, a highly underrepresented segment of society finally enters the spotlight. 27 First Years is truly the illustration of the power of love.

Featured Photo: Salla Lehtikangas

Barbara Majsa

Barbara is a journalist, editor and film critic. She usually does interviews with film-makers, artists, designers, and writes about cinema, design and books.