Whether it be about social issues, global issues, environmental issues, politics, music, fashion, art or fascinating people, documentaries have an unprecedented power to move and inspire.
Perhaps what makes documentaries more inspiring than narrative films, is the fact that it is indeed real life and that inspirational power is meant to cause action or raise awareness of such issues.
With this edition of Film Obsessions, we have two short documentaries that capture the true essence of an effective, inspiring documentary. While one raises awareness of a grave social injustice within the British prison system, the other serves as a reminder of the tenacity and wholesome and pleasantly unique integrity of the human spirit.
Winner of the Ctrl.Alt.Shift Film Competition, a competition aimed at raising awareness about social and global injustice, 1,000 Voices features real recordings of detainees at ‘Removal Centres’—prisons for those who illegally fled to the U.K. to escape the horrors of their war-torn homelands. ‘Removal Centres’ detainees are often held indefinitely as it is illegal to send them back to their home country if it is deemed too dangerous. Often times, these prisoners are tortured and fall victim to intense depression, trauma, mental illness and even suicide as a result of their hopeless situation.
Through the use of surreal animation tinkering on the edge of the avant-garde, 1,000 Voices uniquely and boldly captures the bleak essence of the phone recordings of these broken prisoners. The effect of such a dark use of animation procures intense emotions for the reality of the real-life voiceovers.
Much in the same style as the revolutionary animated documentary Waltz With Bashir, 1,000 Voices effectively tells these shockingly lugubrious stories in a creative manner that intends to not shock, but bring attention to such issues so as to evoke a strong will of action.
Written & Directed by: Tim Travers Hawkins
Runtime: 8 minutes & 40 seconds
Bela: L’Homme Chat
Some of the best documentaries are the ones that profile eccentric, unique people. Moreover, the most effective documentaries profile inspiring, eccentric, unique people. Paul Trillo’s short documentary, Bela: L’Homme Chat, profiles such a character.
Trillo’s film follows a day in the life of a Cannes, France street performer named Bela Erdei, or better known as “the cat man”. Throughout his day, we are thrown into his world of street performing, both the good and the bad. Dressed in full renaissance regalia, and armed with his three trusty felines, Bela travels the streets of Cannes everyday putting on his cat show.
He sees what he does as art, and that the act of street performance is indeed part of the art, which is why he has devoted his life to such a role. He has a wife and family he explains, and he (somehow) provides for them with the money he makes from his street performances. The film also captures some of the negative aspects of Bela’s unique lifestyle, the people who heckle his cats, or worse, heckle him and accuse him of animal abuse.
But Bela maintains that all he does is out of love for his cats and his art. If anything, this short and sweet little doc should serve as a reminder to the passionate and devoted people in this world that make things just a little bit sweeter.
Directed by: Paul Trillo
Runtime: 6 minutes & 4 seconds