At 20 minutes long, Monia Chokri's 2014 SXSW Grand Jury Prize-winning short film is not the typical candidate for festival success. But despite its runtime, An Extraordinary Person is sprightly; it has a distinct and punchy style, largely owing to editor Xavier Dolan's liberal jump cuts.
"Jump cuts gave me the opportunity to pick all the very best moments of each of the actresses," Chokri told No Film School. "Since my patience is very low when I'm watching a movie, I can't stand a second of lost energy in the tension. Jump cuts satisfy my cinema ADD."
The cuts also serve the story, about a 30-year-old woman, Sarah, whose life is pieced together precariously. One morning, she wakes up in a suburban neighborhood, having blacked out and slept with a 16-year-old. Out of apparent obligation, her friend comes to retrieve her; immediately, they drive to a bachelorette party. Having been estranged from the friend group for years, Sarah can barely put up with their pretenses. She wreaks havoc on the girls' fragile egos, exposing secrets and dropping truth bombs that threaten to destroy the carefully constructed social order.
An Extraordinary Person is beautifully shot on super 16 that bolsters both the naturalism of the outdoor scenes and, later, the dramatic lighting indoors at the bachelorette party.
"I love film," Chokri said. "I still have the feeling that digital doesn't offer an equivalent result in term of image quality. Film is also organic, chemical, and fragile. You can feel it with all the crew when you work with film. It's precious. It's a ceremony. Everyone is focused." Chokri also loves the film grain texture—it's a tribute to some of her favorite directors, such as Alan Clarke and Ken Loach, who shot films in the '80s for the BBC.
To this day, nearly three years later, Chokri can hardly believe that her film took home one of the greatest distinctions for American short films. "After that, I had a lot of offers from American producers to work on something there," she said. "But I wasn't ready to leave my French language."
Vimeo Staff Pick Premieres: February
A Grand Canal is a film that feels like a timepiece only recently remembered. Filled with grit and grain from its 16mm format, it recalls the life of a late father through the narration of his son. The film explores family, honor, and ultimately, the power we all hold over memories through the craft of filmmaking.
The Bigger Picture is an animated short about two brothers struggling to care for their elderly mother. Jovial, loving Richard flees as soon as anything practical needs to be done; dutiful Nick does everything he can for his mother while seething with resentment; and mother is not going to make it easy for either of them. With wit and warmth, we see the brothers endeavor to deal with a situation that one day faces all of us – what shall we do with our parents?
February 15: Say Something Intelligent - Documentary (Dir. Lewis Bennett)
Lewis Bennett decided to finally edit together the "documentary" that his dad started making in the early 90s.
February 22: Ruben Leaves - Animation (Dir. Frederic Siegel)
On his way to work, Ruben is haunted by obsessive-compulsive thoughts; is the front door locked? Is the stove really turned off? As Ruben’s creative mind is invaded by increasingly absurd scenarios, reality and imagination begin to merge.