It’s been a big year so far for the team over at ELO films. They’ve already been S/W Selections twice (check out Mouse and Fever ). And, here they are for the hat trick with the compelling short drama, Valencia Road. A deceptively simple tale, the film, directed by Logan George and co-written by Celine Held, is packed with subtle layers of meaning.
Based on a true story, it’s a film about the human desire to form a connection with someone in the wake of a tragic event. On the surface, this may seem obvious—our protagonist discovers a car wreck with another woman literally trapped inside. But, the film is probing something deeper. It’s the protagonist, not the trapped woman, who is seeking that emotional connection as she struggles to deal with her father’s death. And, so, when she attempts to reach out to the car crash victim at the end to forge a connection and is ultimately denied, it’s a cinematic gut punch. What happens when you reach out in your time of need, but the other person doesn’t reach back?
I’ll be the first to admit that Valencia is perhaps too subtle in its messaging (I’d argue a similar sentiment about Held and George’s Fever, which I found stylistically strong, but lacking payoff). But, it’s hard to deny the craftsmanship on display here. Considering ELO Films’s output over the past year, it’s clear they’re a filmmaking collective that, to use a cliché phrase, is going places. Here, George’s camerawork is naturalistic and centers the viewer into the action. He composes big visual moments in a way that feels effortless. In terms of story, I wish Valencia felt a bit more satisfying, but, as Celine Held reveals to Short of the Week, the lack of conclusion is essentially the point.
As she explains:
“We were hoping to explore the sensation of unfulfillment. There’s the unrequited friendship Catherine struggles with narratively, but also the unfulfillment of the audience watching a story that does not resolve itself even remotely. It’s a little disconcerting- but we think our lives are filled of dozens of mini-traumas like what takes place in Valencia Road. We search for a greater purpose to these events, expecting and hoping for meaning from every situation, but sometimes there’s no resolution or greater connection- you’re just left with the memory.”
ELO Films shows no signs of slowing down. They’ve already shot two films this year, Caroline and Babs, and are prepping to shoot their third short, Lockdown, this October. After that, they are moving into pre-production for their feature film, Little.