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SXSW: Basic

A dumb lil’ ho doing lil’ ho things.

Kaylinn (Georgia Mischak) is basic. She’s pretentious as fuck, has no friends and documents her sad life with endless selfies. Gross. At least that’s what Gloria (Chelsea Devantez) wants to believe as she scrolls through Kaylinn’s Instagram. Gloria is dating Nick (Nelson Franklin) and is participating in the time-honored tradition of projecting one’s insecurities by cyber stalking her boyfriend’s ex. Maybe it’s time for Gloria to get over it? Or maybe she needs to scroll through a few more pictures first?

Basic packs a punch in a mere 3 minutes and 3 seconds. This short is written, produced and directed by Chelsea Devantez who also stars in the film. Basic is relatable in so many ways. For many women dating in the age of social media, there’s so much at stake with our already fragile egos and the pressure to present ourselves in the best possible light. And in the early days of a relationship, building confidence is difficult and takes time. It’s easy to slip and become infatuated with a perceived threat that doesn’t really exist. I’ve been in Gloria’s situation before. I have cyber-stalked a boyfriend’s ex. I have said some things that reveal some deep-seated insecurities and pettiness.

Basic is funny, engaging and endlessly watchable. It was shot over 2 days in LA with a small crew and tiny budget. The production quality is fantastic and I really loved the aesthetics and the film’s soundtrack. All three actors were great but I was especially entranced by Mischak and Devantez’ performances. If you’re on the lookout for a relatable comedy, look no further than Basic.

Basic was set to premiere at the 2020 SXSW Film Festival. It will be released online on 3/19 as part of the Shorts of the Week’s SXSW virtual fest

Update: You can watch Basic over on Vimeo!

Albatross Soup

Can you solve this riddle?

‘A man walks off a boat. He walks into a restaurant and orders the albatross soup. He takes one bite, pulls out a gun and kills himself. Why did he kill himself?’

This is not your average riddle. It’s a thought experiment that encourages participants to develop their own tale, build on the riddle’s bare bones, fill in the gaps, create a backstory for its main character and to use their creativity solve the mystery in their own way.

Director Winnie Cheung’s Albatross Soup is an animated short film that visualizes the process of solving the riddle. An omniscient voice, who holds all the answers, is grilled by participants with a variety of questions and gives yes or no answers. Their voices narrate the film and the animated scenes play out the different possible scenarios until they come to the final conclusion.

Albatross Soup is a documentary layered on top of a surreal animated fantasy. It’s filled with bright, bold colors and shape-shifting scenes. It doesn’t ask the viewer to participate. Instead we’re just along for the ride. If you’re burning to solve the riddle yourself, do so beforehand then enjoy the psychedelic journey.

Over 50 participants were recorded for the short film and the audio was edited by New York Times audio producer Alexandra Young. The visual elements consist of hand drawn illustrations by Fiona Smyth and animation by Masayoshi Nakamura. Albatross Soup was screened at various festivals including Sundance, Fantastic Fest and the Fantasia International Film Festival. 

Albatross Soup recently premiered on Vimeo as a Staff Pick. You can watch the film in its entirety here.

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