Where to even begin with David Uloth’s La Voce? One of the most cinematically ambitious shorts I’ve ever seen, this is a film of rare intensity, where every single detail is carefully considered and integral to the overall impact. It all starts with Edgar, an employee of a pig slaughterhouse (already an unusual opening), but from there the film goes from one twist to the next. Switching between beauty and ugliness, love and hate, harmony and chaos, all the time keeping complete control over the viewer’s attention, prepare to be mesmerized and emotionally shook by this unforgettable short.
Written by Chloé Cinq-Mars and with a structure comparable to that of a fable, La Voce is filled with surrealist concepts that not only delight with their originality, but also with their deeper emotional meanings. The story of a man who loses his voice and starts making pig noises, the message here is about finding your voice and using it. There is also another layer to the script though, one that coats the narrative with beauty. Through Edgar’s story, La Voce is also a love letter to finding joyful moments in life and the arts.
Inspired by Donizetti’s opera Lucia di Lammermoor, Cinq-Mars penned the script with sound designer Olivier Calvert in mind. “She wanted to craft a story where sound (and not necessarily dialogue) was crucial to conveying the main character’s emotions”, Uloth explains as we discus the aims of his film.
The opera has a very strong presence in La Voce, as Edgar is an aficionado, and it allows the film to reach the emotions that spoken words might deliver with less sensibility, while also creating a lyrical sound atmosphere. Even in the more violent scenes, Calvert manages to convey the hostility with a more dramatic or tragic edge, that still remain within the sound atmosphere he created.
With this strong aural foundation to the story (unconventional for the medium), Uloth faced a challenge to create a visual universe that would match the tone and hopefully elevate the film as a whole. The importance of sound led him to a visual mood board of the silent film era on the cusp of sound.
Using every tool in his arsenal – including puppets, ballet dancers, opera singers, special camera lenses, steadi-cams, lazy-susans, camera cranes, green screen (most of the blood in the slaughterhouse was actually green paint), VFX, rotoscoping and special color correction – Uloth brings Edgar’s whimsical world to the screen with true movie magic. Watching all the details is fascinating and through Edgar’s presence in them, we understand his world, and feel immersed in it, experiencing it like he does. The contrast between the visuals and the sound, the outer chaos and inner peace that keeps on being attacked, perfectly emphasizing Edgar’s turmoil.
Part of the Travelling Distribution catalogue, La Voce had an incredible festival run on the 2016/2017 festival circuit, with selections at ShortFest and Regard, where it won three awards. Uloth, who is already quite prolific in the short form, had his feature debut Dérive released in 2019, and is currently working on a new short film – a family drama based on the true story of a near-kidnapping – and three tonally different features.