The war has never been an easy artistic theme, and the multitude of literary, cinematographic or plastic works that were generated from these traumas of humanity make the work of new artists approaching this perimeter increasingly difficult. Thus, at first glance, ‘Shelter‘ may not surprise by its originality, but the way this short film synthesizes the inner emptiness experienced by soldiers who face the absurdity of a war that doesn’t belong to them is certainly a powerful element of this dynamic and emotional experiment. Even though the affinities with the war films of Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood or Mel Gibson may be perceived by most viewers, directors Patrick Gather and Markus Meedt condense in an extremely suggestive way, in creating their own project, the existential crisis of a single individual, managing to harmoniously balance both the dynamics of battlefield confrontations and the moments of silence that favour a trenchant self-analysis of the individual touched by the scourge of (self)destruction. Obviously, in such a short film that objectively pursues the evolution of the characters without violating the intimate perimeter of their own perception, the talent of the actors is decisive, and the expressiveness of those who embody the soldiers is an irrefutable asset of this artistic production.
In the Netherlands, during the Second World War, three US soldiers surviving an unforeseen armed conflict flee to the house of two Dutch women, wishing to save the life of one of the soldiers seriously injured by the attack. But things do not go as they should, because soon, in the same house, two Germans appear with whom the two women seem to know each other very well. American soldiers hide and silently assist the interaction of the four people, but they must make a quick decision that could risk their own lives: attack or retreat.
Indirectly, this short film talks about the fragility of humanity possessed by the bloodshed demon, but perhaps the most interesting aspect that directors Patrick Gather and Markus Meedt just prefer to suggest in the subtext of this film is the individual’s weakness to be manipulated by the absurd conventions of a war that doesn’t embody their desires. The characters of this short film are thus captive puppets, in a macabre game, that no longer act consciously, rationally, but only through an inoculated hatred by those who lead the backstage of political conventions. By combining this ideational dimension with the technical structure of an action film that provides the epic alertness, plus a suggestive chromatic and an instrumental soundtrack enhancing the psychological tension of the characters, ‘Shelter’ is a complex cinematographic project about the human condition intended to a category of broad viewers.
For the dynamism with which it renders the emotional tension of a bloody confrontation in the history of humanity, for the sensitivity with which it depicts the drama of an individual who is aware of the absurdity of his actions, for its intelligent homogeneity between narration, chromatics, soundtrack and acting, ‘Shelter’ was awarded with the 2nd Film of the Month distinction in the May 2018 edition of TMFF.