“Luna (Lali Ayguade) and Diego (Nicolas Ricchini) are the parking lot security guards. Diego does the night shift, and Luna works by day.” This is the IMDb description for Juanjo Gimenez Pena’s short film Timecode. It is terse and unassuming, seemingly mundane. Yet the CCTV cameras in the lot, when set to secret timecodes, tell a different story.
There is a heartening simplicity to Timecode. Marked by its levity and brevity, the short film follows Luna in her isolating and drab occupation. She relieves the night shift worker, Diego, every day and blankly watches the vastly empty parking structure. When she stumbles upon Diego’s eccentric way of passing time on the CCTV cameras, though, we see Luna’s feelings of her work change.
Pena does a good job of highlighting the sheer emptiness of Luna’s work, with long CCTV shots dwarfing her in the bare concrete structure. Her blank expression helps to isolate a potential tone that is subverted quite abruptly by the reveal of Diego’s proclivities. While this tone shift could have come across silly or farcical, the film treats it with enough earnest to warrant an acceptance of the happy-go-lucky defiance that is exhibited.
Aside from some elliptical edits that condense story time which may have added helpful connective tissue to the narrative, the film uses its short length to its advantage, not overstaying its welcome with its simple and humorous premise. The film moves quickly to its intended conclusion, a whimsical montage of overlapping CCTV footage and a wonderful final punchline.
Timecode—a film shortlisted for the 2017 Academy Awards short film nominations—shares a generic take with last year’s Oscar winner in the short film category, Stutterer. Both films take the romantic genre and add a twist to the premise that drastically pulls the narrative away from convention.
In this sense, both films are refreshing. There is no room for complication in short films, yet many short films try to stack layers upon layers to their narratives, often to muddy results. Timecode uses its simplicity to its advantage, and it is memorable as a result.
Timecode is one of 10 live action short films currently shortlisted for the 2017 Academy Award nominations. The shortlist is as follows:
- Bon Voyage (Dir. Marc Wilkins)
- Ennemis Interieurs (Dir. Selim Azzazi)
- Graffiti (Dir. Lluis Quilez)
- La Femme et le TGV (Dir. Timo von Gunten)
- Nocturne in Black (Dir. Jimmy Keyrouz)
- The Rifle, The Jackal, the Wolf and the Boy (Dir. Oualid Mouaness)
- Silent Nights (Dir. Aske Bang, Prod. .Kim Magnusson)
- Sing (Mindenki) (Dir. Kristof Deak)
- Timecode (Dir. Juanjo Gimenez Pena)
- The Way of Tea (Dir. Marc Fouchard, Prod. Matthieu Devillers)
The Oscar nominations will be announced January 24, 2017.
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)