A beautiful, tense short film, Anders Walter’s 9 Meter tells a familiar story of imminent family loss, but fabricates a brilliant way of dramatizing it, through a youth’s misguided belief that his achievements can save his mother.
In a coma at the hospital, Daniel’s mother does not respond to the outside world. However Daniel, deeply in denial over her fate, and his own powerlessness, persists in a dangerous delusion. Thinking that adrenaline is the secret to unlocking unrealized potential, and thus his mother’s recovery, he sets himself towards increasingly dangerous jumps over gaps, and eventually between rooftops.
The film has a somewhat maudlin premise, but is grounded by its “realistic” European style of intimate handheld close-ups alternated with gorgeously composed long shots. DP Rasums Heise, whose credits include a viral NSFW music video and work with recent Saatchi and Saatchi New Director Showcase director Caspar Balslev, creates magic in his partnership with Walter, as the short contains numerous indelible images.
More in the short’s favor is Walter’s pacing of the film, which, though at 16min is on the longer side, has a steady sense of progression and escalation of stakes. Walter, who also wrote the script, saves a twist or two to surprise you with after you think you’ve already figured out the ending, and wisely keeps a lid on the potential magicality of the short, failing to indulge Daniel’s beliefs, instead presenting an interesting psychodrama that complements the edge-of-your seat staging of Daniel’s jumps.
This polished effort received great attention of the festival circuit, culminating in a spot on last year’s 10 film Oscar Shortlist. While it failed to make the final cut, Walter is back on track this year with Helium, which has, like 9 Meter, made it to the 10 film Shortlist. Check out the Helium trailer here. While we await the final nominees, which should be announced in early January, watch 9 Meter and see if, like me, you end up rooting for this talented Dane to breakthrough in the Academy race.