Just when you think you’ve heard of every power player on the digital field, Lexus ups the ante. The Weinstein Company and Lexus International show originality, voice, and beautiful cinematography during the Lexus Short Films Season 3.
With the digital screening market expanding rapidly, everyone is trying to throw their hat into the ring. Besides the power players Netflix and Hulu, there is now Youtube Red, talks of Facebook, Snapchat, and Lexus?
Although not widely known, Lexus, partnered with The Weinstein Company (TWC) is in its third year of producing Lexus Short Films Season. Every year the two companies choose four films to produce from thousands of applicants worldwide. This year the underlying theme was “anticipation”.
The victors were:
‘Game’ (United States) Directed by Jeannie Donohoe
‘Friday Night’ (France) Directed by Alexis Michalik
‘MESSiAH’ (Australia) Directed by Damian Walshe-Howling
‘The Nation Holds Its Breath’ (Ireland) Directed by Kev Cahill
Starting the evening out with Donohoe’s ‘Game’ is a strong choice. It stars Nicole Williams in her screen debut, Tye White, Dominique Columbus and even Canadian Actor and three-time NBA Champion Rick Fox. The short follows A.J. a teenager with high ambitions to play professional ball during two days of tryouts at a new high school. A wrench is thrown into the works, however, when the all-male basketball team and coach discover that the A in A.J. stands for Andrea.
With a likable cast and good dialogue, ‘Game’ is an easy film to watch. However, it fails to answer one of the biggest questions, is A.J. transgender or did they just want to be on the better basketball team? After the first day of tryout A.J.’s father asks, “How were the other girls?” This obviously serves as the somewhat surprising reveal of gender. But it also shows that he has no idea that his daughter is posing as a boy. This isn’t incredibly shocking. I’m sure many parents tend to block out signs. But when it’s finally revealed to the coach and rest of team A.J.’s response to him is, “I want to go all the way, how many professional women’s players can you name?”
For a short film, it can be argued that it doesn’t matter. It’s a heavy subject to try to introduce and attack within 15 minutes, and I applaud Donohoe for not stretching the film thin in an attempt to fit everything in. However, it’s equally fair to say one of the tryout scenes could have but cut or shortened to give the audience a deeper look into A.J. psyche. Despite this plot hole, it cannot be denied that Donohoe is an exceptional young filmmaker from whom big things can be expected.
Damian Walshe-Howling’s ‘MESSiAH’ follows a very different storyline. Set against the Australian outback, a dimwitted Irishman (Stephen Hunter) and his Parisian girlfriend (Chloé Boreham) quite literally run into a mysterious traveler (David Gulpilil), the likes of which they’re never seen. Taking this as a celestial sign Hunter makes it his mission to follow Gulpilil’s spreading the word of God’s return to Earth.
This is an intriguing and unique short. The cinematography is beyond gorgeous and watching it the audience can’t help but have fun. It works well in its given length as the characters are not given depth, but merely serve as vessels to move the story. Like in ‘Game’ a major question is left unanswered. Is Gulpilil the Messiah? But in this case, it doesn’t matter. He inspires Hunter to follow his true desires of freedom and adventure, so heavenly being or not, he is a type of Messiah. The downfall of this short circles back to the lack of character development. It oddly works for this because so many of the other details are bathed in mystery, but it’s also one of the reasons I have no desire to see it expanded into anything else. It was a fun, interesting short film.
Those who are interested can watch the films here. And aspiring filmmakers should keep their eyes on the Lexus website, as well as Withoutabox, for the next season.