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Vimeo Short Film Of The Week: ‘The Past Inside The Present’

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 James Siewert’s animated marvel The Past Inside The Present.

The Plot: A couple takes a hallucinatory trip through their past by plugging directly into their own memories.

The Film:

With technology bleeding through the medium more than any ever before, animated cinema has never felt more pregnant with possibilities. Even as Pixar and the like are pumping out an endless stream of digital dioramas designed to draw in both parents and children, those possibilities still feel a bit limited. Every once in a while, an animated flick comes along and completely reimagines what animation can be. James Siewert’s The Past Inside The Present is one of those films.

Though it almost feels like a slight to call The Past Inside The Present an “animated film.” Composed of over 7,000 hand-drawn frames seamlessly blended with rotoscoped video footage, Siewert’s film toes a tactful line between techno-gothic daydream and cyberpunk nightmare. One that deftly explores the quandary of man’s inherent need to catalogue and cling to the past even though it can often become damaging to do so. Siewert explores that quandary by examining a young couple whose relationship is on the brink of collapse. They decide to renew their passion by revisiting happier times. In Siewert’s world, that means they connect their brains directly to an old Betamax machine and relive the moment, well, in the moment.

The lead up to that plug in is both bizarre and breathtaking. The moment itself is eerily transcendent. It took Siewert and his production team more than two years – via pen, ink and charcoal – to bring them to life. You’d better believe it was worth the wait. You really have never seen anything quite like this film. And yes, The Past Inside The Present is more than just an “animated film.” It’s a savage, seductive work of art that boldly ventures to places traditional animated films would never dare go. Of course, you may not always want to go where The Past Inside The Present takes you, but be assured, the journey will be unlike any you’ve taken before.

Meet The Crew:

Written, Directed & Edited by: James Siewert Animation by: James Siewert, Auden Lincoln Vogel, Annelyse Gelman Starring: Schuyler Helford and Miles Joris-Peyrafitte Director of Photography: Sam Cutler-Kreutz  Music by: Geoff Saba and Spencer Horstman Produced by: Larry Fessenden and Chris Skotchdopole

We hope you enjoy The Past Inside The Present! It’s certainly one of the trippiest films we’ve ever seen, but it’s also one of the most affecting. Trust us when we say that the images here will stick with you for a long time after the film is over. With any luck, James Siewert will get a chance to take his twisted vision to the next level with his next directorial effort. Until then, you can catch some of his work behind the camera in this year’s SXSW darling Like Me. And if you’re dying for more, head over to Siewert’s Vimeo page and check out some of his past projects.

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.

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Patrick Phillips is a Staff Writer for CutPrintFilm and geekinsider.com. He spends his time drinking coffee, buying records, writing stories and wondering why he never started a band. Follow him on Twitter at Patrick Phillips @savagedetectiv