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Posts tagged ‘New Director’

Searching for Kahlil Joseph: How one learns about a {good} short film director on the Internet

As I watched the Academy Awards last month I began to wonder about what happens to all of those nameless people who’ve won big name film making awards for short films at big name events. I don’t just mean the Oscars, but also Cannes and Sundance. What does a short film award afford these filmmakers? Certainly it offers limelight, prestige, and a foot in the door to future funding. They have a title now, gosh darnit! They’ve won at Sundance! Cannes! They have an Oscar! For one, I don’t understand the impetus behind the category at the Oscars. Let’s be honest, aren’t these usually the categories in our Oscar party ballots that most of us vote for based on title alone? Some of us may see an Academy shorts presentation at the local art house, or are industrious enough to find these films online and have our own private screening. But for the most part, we’re doing this to have some extra edge on our voting competition. But after they win, or lose, where do these filmmakers go? I don’t mean this to be snarky. I do wonder about the future of these filmmakers after such momentous wins. Is this really the road to success? Or is this part of a PR move by these separate institutions to re-inscribe the myth of total Hollywood that making a solid, story-grounded film will open more doors and will guarantee continued rewards in the industry?[1] I became interested in one such director out of chance. After years in film school making and watching a number of good, mediocre, and out right bad student short films, I’m hard pressed to force myself to watch short films nowadays. I’ve done my time with this genre, and I’m not easily impressed by its niceties, its cute characters, or stylistic rip-offs. So, when my alma mater advertised that one of our own had just won a special jury award for short film at Sundance, I grudgingly felt obliged to watch. Kahlil Joseph’s 2012 short film “Until the Quiet Comes” is totally bizarre. Its lyricism, its poetic movement (bodily and via the camera), its heat and its cold, its tonal shifts and rhythmic shifts, and its description as a “music video”. This last claim is hardly fair, because ‘Quiet’ is not a music video but an interwoven meditative narrative or images from a day, a week, or summer in the Nickerson Gardens housing projects in Watts-Los Angeles set to three different selections from the Flying Lotus album “Until the Quiet Comes”. In a genre that so often has the tendency to be obvious in style, pandering in tone, and weighty with significance, Joseph’s film both avoids and embraces moments of realism with the mystical and moments of pain with joy. This film does not linger, but seems slow, it does not describe but is full of detail. This is where I get caught up in Joseph’s work (because like most of the aforementioned filmmakers, this ain’t his first rodeo). Read more


  1. OK, OK, I’m sure there a number of special cases to prove me wrong on this position, my curiosity in asking this question is how many of us take the time after these initial awards to do more digging into these filmmakers []