Short films matter. Vimeo wants you to know it. So do we. That’s we’re taking a weekly look at some of some of the short film world’s best and brightest. This week, we bring you Joschka Laukeninks’ haunting, wildly inventive drama Backstory.
The Plot: Experience the circle of life in 360 seconds.
Many filmmakers believe that cinema only exists to document the menial highs and lows of life; and that their main job is to present those lives in an honest, thought-provoking way. Because it’s almost impossible to succintly examine the entirety of one’s existence within the framework of a single film- see pretty much any biopic ever made- most filmmakers keep their stories focused to brief but vital moments a characters life. Mind you, they still take anywhere from 90 to 120 minutes to do it. Joschka Laukeninks’ Backtory tells its life story in just six.
Like every life story Backstory’s isn’t always a happy one. It also ends the same way that all human life eventually does. But life, as they say, is about the journey, not the destination. Backstory‘s journey is an absolute thing of beauty, though it’s hardly the stuff of legend. That’s sort of the point. Laukeninks begins that journey with a baby boy taking his first steps. In the minutes that follow we watch that boy grow into an old man, checking off milestone after milestone on the way. In terms of narrative Backstory is the picture of simplicity, using its runtime to explore issues of life, love, sex, loneliness, the innocence of childhood, the banality of adulthood and the tragedy of growing old. Movies have been exploring those complex issues since pictures started movie. It’s how Laukeninks presents them that makes Backstory so unique.
We spend almost the entirety of Backstory watching boy grow to man only from behind (hence that clever title). The lack of eyes or facial expressions from the central character tempers the drama throughout, but it also encourages viewers to project themselves into every passing moment. That those moments are the sort most people will experience in their own lives only bolsters the effect. We never linger long in those moments, and as each one comes and goes, Backstory becomes less a life story than an anticlimactic life collage. One that propels itself forward with the visceral energy of an action film, taking on an epic tone behind the the stoic narration of Philipp Moog and the grandiose cinematography of Eike Rieche. That Laukeninks renders Backstory with such passion and refinement in a paltry six minutes makes the film a bit of a miracle.
Meet The Crew:
Written & Directed by: Joschka Laukeninks Starring: Jan Stapelfeltd, Jessica McIntyre, Xenia Assenza Narrated by: Philipp Moog Cinematography by: Eike Rieche Edited by: Vera Berg Music by: German Wahnsinn
We hope you enjoy Backstory! Joschka Laukeninks’ film made its debut on Vimeo this week, but it also made some serious waves on the 2016/2017 festival circuit. The film even scored top honors at the New York City Independent Film Festival and took home the prestigious Roger Deakins Award from the Plymouth Film Fest. Backstory is only Laukeninks fourth film as director, and while he’s yet to announce his next project, we’re certainly going to be keeping a sharp eye out for it. Of course, if you can’t wait til then, feel free to drop by the director’s Vimeo page and check out some of his previous work.
While you’re kicking around, be sure to check out some of the thousands of other short films – animated, live action and documentary – team Vimeo has curated for your viewing pleasure (via desktop or mobile device … SWEET!). You’re sure to find something interesting, and you may just stumble across your new favorite filmmaker.