It’s gratifying to see a short by director Patricia Rozema at TIFF. Rozema is best known for her feature films I’ve Heard The Mermaids Singing (which won the Prix de Jeunesse at Cannes in 1987), When Night Is Falling (1995) and Mansfield Park (1999). All foreground women characters and their experiences. She won an Emmy for her work on the series Yo-Yo Ma Inspired By Bach and she directed a film version of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days in 2000.
Rozema’s new seven-minute piece, Suspect, comes from the 2005 Alphabet City Festival at the Drake last year. Based on a short essay “Who Is The Suspect?” by Mark Kingwell, the video follows a young female writer and a strange visitor. The writer, relaxed and brandishing her favourite pen, discovers a female intruder in the house. The two struggle and the resulting chase ends in a nearby alley. The writer (looking hot in her undies, I might add) eventually pins to the ground the other woman. In an intense moment, the writer decides to step aside and free her.
Interestingly, the video uses subtitles instead of dialogue or voiceover for a loosely based commentary by and about the main character. (This is not Rozema’s first time playing around with subtitles. In her contribution to the group of short films in Montreal Vu Par she has an adorable Sheila McCarthy physically interact with subtitles on the screen.)
Suspect exhibits Rozema’s spontaneous, quizzical nature along with her innate sense of drama. The short is a call for rationalism and compassion in a world dominated by fear-mongering and terror. The character’s decision to let the intruder go highlights the unimportance of blame and material goods.
Aleesa Cohene is a unique editor and storyteller. Her new short video Supposed To is a beautiful and lyrical concoction of found footage that documents the struggle of working life. Composed of images from movies from the 1970s and ’80s, the short puts together disparate shots of feet, cars, mirrors and phones to express the pressures of the nine-to-five grind.
Cohene’s ability to make loose and hard connections between images is intelligent and powerful. As the first voice in the video notes, “There’s a whole machine that works because everybody does what they’re supposed to.” The world that Cohene creates sympathizes with the weary workers and the energy that gets sucked out of them.