Parthenon (Frank Mosley, 2017)

By José Sarmiento Hinojosa

Among my first views of 2018, I was given the opportunity to take a glance into two relatively new filmmakers’ work: Frank Mosley’s Parthenon and Mehdi Jahan’s Jyoti and Joymoti. While basically two very different works from two filmmakers of different nationalities (Mosley is American, Jahan from India), there’s a sentiment that I assume is common for these two works, and also common of our times: this sense of tragedy, of impending doom, of isolation; working as a mechanism of memory or pure human alienation. The personal and the communal resound strongly in these two short films.

Parthenon is a minimal work of pure tension: it is felt in the first sequence as a rough sexual encounter between a woman and her partner. Their aggressive sexual game, as trying to test the limits of each other, speak of a relentless search for something  missing, something that goes beyond love and desire to be transformed in a gesture of emptiness, of mere perfomatic event, of a manifestation of longing. This is then translated into the realm of art, while the woman (Lily Baldwin) models for a drawing class in an art venue. There, the exchange of glances with one of the students (Tallie Medel) transforms the event in a desperate search for empathy, as if the transmission of sentimental baggage overturned itself into the mere manifestation of creation. This gesture of art, of mimesis, serves as a sort of translation of ennui, like the marble statues of past history. The best feature of Parthenon resides in the its delicate direction of its actors.

Jyoti and Joymoti is a different creature, a story or tale of doomed love that takes from history and tradition. Placed in the  times of Sino-Indian War, Jahan’s story deals with personal and collective memory, with the unhealed scars of a painful past. This meta-tale (a story inside a story with different voices) rescues the tradition of oral narration as a valuable resource of healing power where death gives place to life. The oeniric quality of its cinematography, and its slow-paced performances are particularly outstanding in this setting: Jahan knows how do frame a face, heavily influenced by the expressionist past of cinema, and also by contemporary masters as Raúl Perrone, which he has cited as an influence.

Depictions of sorrow and despair are particularly remarkable in both Jahan’s and Mosley’s work. In a  world where the scars of personal and communal trauma are transforming us, this two shorts serve as a reminder of the perpetual catharsis of mankind, of the innate need of connection and resolution.

Starring Lily Baldwin, Tallie Medel, and Thiago Martins
Written, directed, and edited by Frank Mosley
Produced by Lauren McCune
Executive produced by John W. Yost and Jim Powers
Cinematography by Cody Stokes
Production Design by John Stegemann
14 min./USA/2016

Jyoti and Joymoti
Story, Script & Direction : Mehdi Jahan
Produced By : Syed Manuwar Hussain, Syeda Jebin Begum Hussain, And Mehdi Jahan
Cinematography : Ranabir Das
Editing : Swapnil R.Sangle & Sanjay Sukul Tudu Sound Design : Rahul Rabha
Original Music : Niladri Shekhar Roy
Art Direction : Prashant Deshmane
Cast : Pratiksha Gogoi, Prashanta Bora, Aabha Bai, Rahul Rabha, K.D. Chandrakant, Dheeraj Chetia And Kriti Kamal Das.