The Short List #4: "Breathless" (2018, dir. Olesksii Sobolev)

The Short List #4: “Breathless”

The Short List #1: "Sweet Things" (2018, dir. Henry K. Norvalls)The Short List is our running list of notable short features available online. Every week, we share one short film which we think deserves to be watched by many. The short films included in our list can come from any country but has to be publicly available online. Click here to see the full list of short films—you can also submit your own.

The title for Oleksii Sobolev’s gorgeous experimental piece, “Breathless”, is apt for two reasons: first, because the film in itself is as beholding a piece of filmmaking as its admittedly familiar story beats; and second, because its visual conceit literally restricts our point-of-view from under the water, trapped in the same pool its protagonist has caged herself in.

The metaphor isn’t lost in the specificity of a synchro-swimmer vying for her coach’s approval attention. As the film notes in its uplifting denouement, “Breathless” far exceeds the confines of a professional swimming pool. It’s about the tighter traps we click our feet into for the smaller escapes we indulge in. This is spectacularly depicted in Sobolev’s decidedly theatrical, almost operatic direction. Principal characters are clad in different colors, their gestures deliberately made large and unreserved. But lensed so intimately by Phil Lee, the film conjures some electrifying images, chief among them is an incredible mirroring of Michaelangelo’s “The Creation Of Adam,” adding a fine layer of text to what ostensibly feels like a sordid tale about a man in power and his doggedly follower.

“Breathless” is a part of a bigger film project called Piter By, a collection of Russian shorts set in Saint Petersburg. Click here to learn more.

Watch the short film, in full, by clicking the play button above.

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