In Patrick Vollrath’s Alles Wird Gut, a divorcee picks his daughter Lea (Julia Pointner) up for a day at the fair. Only, something is tonally disjointed from this, what should be a lighthearted affair.
We begin by seeing the father Michael (Simon Schwarz) waiting anxiously at the gate of his ex-wife’s house. The father and daughter pair go to a toy store, where he let’s Lea get any two toys that she wants, but he paces and looks around as if in a hurry. Afterward, he stops them at a photo booth and has her get an ID photo, which he uses to register an emergency passport.
As this happens, the camera seems to mimic Michael’s nervous quirks. It will pan quick and move back to its original position like darting eyes. It will pace alongside Michael, lilting between shots of him and his daughter, as if impatiently tapping its feet.
As the day goes on, Michael gets more anxious and more aggressive. But this is not Michael’s story, it is Lea’s. Her confusion leads to fear leads to childlike anger.
The experience is a formative moment of the most conflicting kind, and we as a viewer are experiencing it from the same point of view as Lea. We too have no understanding of Michael’s motives. And the final minutes show this formative moment come to a head as a role-reversal comes to the surface.
This climax is characterized by tight framing that isolates the moment, cramps the viewer into the same space as Lea. Then, an extended take, with continued use of this tight framing, is a jarring upheaval that ends unceremoniously.
Everything Will Be Okay is a simple narrative. It is the point of view that puts it a cut above, as it shows the torturous situation from the eyes of Lea (young Pointner does a commendable job tackling this role) while still keeping Michael’s inner conflict on full display.
Everything Will Be Okay has been selected for the Oscar shortlist in the Live Action Short category. The shortlist consists of the following 10 films, and will be narrowed down to five finalists when the Academy announces its 2016 nominations on Jan. 14.
- “Ave Maria,” Basil Khalil, director, and Eric Dupont, producer (Incognito Films)
- “Bad Hunter,” Sahim Omar Kalifa, director, and Dries Phlypo, producer (A Private View)
- “Bis Gleich (Till Then),” Philippe Brenninkmeyer, producer, and Tara Lynn Orr, writer (avenueROAD Films)
- “Contrapelo (Against the Grain),” Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer, director, and Pin-Chun Liu, producer (Ochenta y Cinco Films)
- “Day One,” Henry Hughes, director (American Film Institute)
- “Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut),” Patrick Vollrath, director (Filmakademie Wien)
- “The Free Man (Zi You Ren),” Quah Boon-Lip, director (Taipei National University of the Arts)
- “Shok,” Jamie Donoughue, director (Eagle Eye Films)
- “Stutterer,” Benjamin Cleary, director (Bare Golly Films)
- “Winter Light,” Julian Higgins, director, and Josh Pence, producer (Innerlight Films and Prelude Pictures)
As always, thanks for reading!
—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)