Screened at the BFI London and Sundance Film Festivals and winner of the Best British Short prize at the British Independent Film Awards, Mahalia Belo’s National Film and Television School short Volume has made her a director with an eminent reputation on the festival circuit. At 27-minutes in length the filmmaking had to be exemplary for this to be a short that successfully made the transition from big-screen to internet browser and thankfully the hype surrounding the film was in no way overblown.
“When you don’t know, truth is just what you decide it is”
Transporting you into a picture-perfect world of tree-lined roads and backyard swimming pools, Belo’s narrative (written by Anna Ingeborg Topsøe) may be set in a polished universe, but the director quickly lets her audience know this isn’t going to be a film about the happiness this kind of life can bring. Opening with Chloë Thomson’s (whose cinematography is exquisite throughout) camera drifting through the streets of this quintessential neighbourhood, the trees plastered with missing posters, the residents stop to stare directly into the lens letting us know things aren’t exactly as they should be in this pristine setting. As Volume’s enigmatic storyline unravels, consuming us into its world of young love, hazy memories and parental indiscretions, the only thing that seems to be unmistakably clear at its finale is that this is filmmaking of the highest quality – from a director showcasing a confident and unique voice.
Here at Short of the Week we have high expectations from any films over the 20-minute mark and Volume is a stellar example of how these longer films should work. Character-driven, brimming with powerful performances and exhibiting some distinct, assured production it contains everything needed to keep you captivated for its 27-minute duration. Named one of Screen International’s Stars of Tomorrow in 2012, Belo is currently developing two features with Film4 and looks to have a new short set for release sometime in the not-too-distant future.