Short of the Week

North Atlantic

An air-traffic controller receives a transatlantic emergency signal from a lost plane.

Nature isn’t cruel, just indifferent. So, goes the old adage.  Unable to be swayed from its rigid rules and cold equations, it takes a bit of humanity–a connection–to break through the apathy. That is, if only for a little while.

In Bernardo Nascimento’s superlative short film, North Atlantic, we spend a perfect 15 minutes with two characters who do their best to add human compassion to grim circumstances. Hugo, an aircraft controller on a small island situated in the Azores Archipelago, receives an emergency signal from James, a pilot helming a lost plane. James is far away from land and running out of fuel.  Despite the lingering shadow of disaster, a bond slowly grows between the two men–a conversation separated by static and hundreds of miles.  Both men know that the situation is no one’s fault, and really, that’s what makes their interaction so moving. They accept the inevitable, but are not willing to lose one’s self in the process.

Inspired by true events, North Atlantic is a flawless example of the short form. Its location is confined, its cast small. The script is simple and the climax is incredibly affecting. If only Hollywood could get it this right; I was moved more by this film than I have been by a theatrical release in the past year.  That may seem like high praise, but really, it’s a testament to the craftsmanship of the movie. Nascimento doesn’t do anything fancy–nothing that screams “Hey…look at me!  I’m a  director!” No, this is about character moments, deftly told with warmth and an elegant kindness. Beautiful cinematography accents both lead actors, allowing them to perform, to connect without film-school contrivances. Quite simply, Nascimento tells a story.  One shot in particular stands out–an overhead view of James’s small plane flying amongst a sea of dark clouds, a tiny dot, lost and alone as it challenges an endless atmosphere.  A human connection doomed.

Although North Atlantic is his directorial debut, Nascimento isn’t a stranger to the film world. Born in Portugal, he eventually moved to London where he has worked on several films, including a position as assistant director on Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass. Still, considering North Atlantic’s polish, it’s amazing that this is his inaugural work.  The film is currently entered in YouTube’s “Your Film Festival,” a contest where the winner, chosen by the public, is entered in the Venice Film Festival, and ultimately, given a chance to direct a feature film. I certainly hope he gets that chance. Please vote for the film so we can see more work from this talented director.

Ivan is a filmmaker, video editor, and motion graphic artist from the Washington, DC area. He is an avid movie watcher and podcaster. He’s also quite handsome and charming (at least that's what his Mom says). For more information about Ivan, visit Lucky 9 Studios.
  • Andrew S Allen

    Saw Bernardo’s short at the Savannah Film Festival and it was clearly the best. Great to see it online. We’ll see how well a festival darling translates to online film festival. I know it’s got my vote.

  • Robert

    Fantastic i really love it

  • Sebastian

    Awesome film, great work.

  • Sebastian

    Awesome film, great work.

  • John Keyes

    Best film I’ve watched on here. Scene perfect IMO.

  • ivan kander

     Agreed. This film is just so emotional moving. Such a great story and so well made.

  • Fashion Pas

    This has been one of the best films I have ever watched. It immediately captured my attention and I was into the story from then until the end. And that for me can only be a good sign!

  • Bernardo Nascimento

    Thank you all for your kind words, you’ve been making my day(s)!  If you can, please do share it with your friends. If we get enough people watching, enjoying and voting for it, we’ll be closer to make another film, this time a feature length, produced by Ridley Scott. More here:
    Again, thank you!

  • 13dream

    Wonderful!!! I work as an air traffic controller in Spain and that history touched me… A lot of emotions in so little time… Thank you, Obrigada

  • Shelagh

    This short film speaks volumes in its silence.

  • julia

    I loved this. Great little story line and very believable characters.

  • Sam Pauo

    I remember first seeing this a couple years ago. It was part of the Your Film Festival submission. I was very angry that it didn’t win first place because this maybe one of the most perfect short film i’ve ever seen. Performance was impeccable. Setting was awesome. Cinematography was appropriately claustrophobic which really enhance the tone of the story. As someone mentioned earlier, this short really speaks volume in its silence. love it. 10/10

  • Yosef Rodrigues

    Amazing short film with a great message! It will be “object of study” in one of my classes. Parabéns ao realizador!

  • Yosef Rodrigues

    Amazing short film with a great message! It will be “object of study” in one of my classes. Parabéns ao realizador!

  • Yosef Rodrigues

    Amazing short film with a great message! It will be “object of study” in one of my classes. Parabéns ao realizador!