Apparently, ‘Funeral‘ is not a short film that impresses with its thematic nonconformism or its narrative thread complexity. And yet, the project signed by Marie Vandelannoote succeeds in capturing that sensitive human core that makes the characters go beyond the limits of a fiction film, talking about our own condition and fragility in a world subject to error and selfishness. In other words, this short film is also a brief x-ray hypostasizing a wide range of emotional reactions endured by individuals while facing the death of a loved one, but also a kind of tender praise for our imperfections that highlight the unaltered essence of our own humanity. There are no protagonists or antagonists, while good and evil become relative notions, and guilt is always counterpointed by spots of light. Thus, the director, using the structural principles of a “huis clos” (and thus somewhat attacking a discursive structure inspired by the premises of theatricality), depicts an existential fragment relevant to the understanding of human nature, family relationships, while also surprising the difficulty and beauty of fraternal love, despite the personal choices of each.
After a young man commits suicide, his brothers and sisters gather at the funeral’s wake, to recall the most beautiful moments spent together, but also to try to find an explanation for their younger brother’s extreme gesture. Who is responsible for this tragic death? Can you be responsible for other people’s choices? Is it any use to find a guilty?
Beyond the thematic mainstay by which the director explores the anatomy of fraternal relationships, this short film enjoys an interesting cinematic concreteness that makes long shots, along with camera movements, suggest the very perspective of the dead brother’s spirit who quietly attends the meeting of others. The strategy chosen by Marie Vandelannoote who somewhat overlaps our perspective, the one of the viewers, with the “transhuman” perspective of the deceased character, enhances the surprise effect in the end, provoking us with its extreme emotional reaction while pushing us to believe that the imperceptible reality around us is far more complex than we want to believe. It is difficult to classify this short film using words such as “optimistic” or “pessimistic”, “tragic” or “comic”, “moral” or “immoral”. In fact, as aforementioned, the most appropriate term to capture the essence of this project is “human”. Thus, ‘Funeral’ is one of the most humane and authentic projects about our nature and about our emotional reactivity, that we had the opportunity to award in our festival.