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 Myrsini Aristidou’s tenderly observed drama Semele.
The Plot: A young girl uses a school note as an excuse to spend time with her absentee father.
When you factor in literature, theater and theology, family strife has been at the center of some of the greatest dramas throughout history. Yet when tales of troubled families make their way to the cinemas, they tend to trip over themselves and into the realm of melodrama. While it can be fun to watch those families bicker and squabble, the overblown dramatics that come with all that bickering usually ends up undercutting the subtleties of inter-familial strife. Myrsini Aristidou’s Semele avoids that dramatic pitfall by focusing her eye on one of the more complicated relationships within a family, the one between father and daughter.
To be completely honest, for most of Semele‘s 13 minute runtime, Aristidou avoids any real sense of drama at all. The film opens with a young girl (played with passionate restraint by newcomer Vasiliki Kokkoliadi) arriving at a lumber yard. After searching the grounds, she eventually finds the person she’s looking for, her father (Yiannis Stankoglou). It’s clear that he isn’t too happy to see her, and that he doesn’t see her much period. He tries telling her that she needs to leave as the work zone is no place for kids. She refuses, and the pair end up spending a not quite difficult day together.
That’s basically all there is in terms of plot-driven drama in Semele. But make no mistake, the film is rife with dramatic tension … it just happens to be the sort that stems from knowing stares and haunting silences. Much of the film unfolds with almost no dialogue. What is there is sparse and loaded with subtext. That means much of the film’s dramatic weight is held squarely on the shoulders of stars Kokkoliadi and Stankoglou.
The pair carries that weight with staggering grace, respectively bringing a childish but knowing innocence and stoic intensity to a relationship that’s fracturing further with each stayed silence. Aristidou captures that drama with a casual elegance that lends gravitas to the desires and regrets driving it. Even as an unexpected calamity unfolds late in Semele, Aristidou undercuts the actual drama, choosing rather to focus on what best serves her story, the quiet, unexpectedly stirring moment between father and daughter that follows it. What could be more dramatic – or more important – than that?
Meet The Crew:
Written, Directed & Edited by: Myrsini Aristidou Starring: Vasiliki Kokkoliadi and Yiannis Stankoglou Director of Photography: Pepe Avila del Pino Music by: Jacob Pavek
We hope you enjoy Semele! Though Myrsini Aristidou’s film is just making its premiere on Vimeo, it’s been racking up kudos on the festival circuit for a couple of years now. After well-received screenings at TIFF 2015, Berlinale 2016 and Tribeca Film Festival 2016 (not to mention a big push from Short Film Of The Week alums The Green Brothers), Semele has firmly established Myrsini Aristidou as a director to watch. You can do just that by visiting Aristidou’s Vimeo page and checking out some of her prior work. Just FYI – you can find the teaser for Aristidou’s new short Aria there as well. That film will make its debut Stateside at that the Sundance Film Fest in 2018. It looks like another stunning achievement for the young filmmaker, so be sure to keep an eye out for it.
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.