(19/04/07)(NEW MASTERS OF CINEMA. Released by New Masters of Cinema) – This international, offbeat collection of six short films offers a significant perspective on some upcoming talent out there. Although varied in theme and format, the films have a similar thread running through them: a search for connection between human beings, not only in the romantic sense of the word, but also in more holistic ways. Besides, although making use of narrative, these shorts tend to focus strongly on atmosphere, with varying results.

One Minute Past Midnight (Celia Galan Julve) is set in 2058, and manages to balance Terry Gilliam-esque bizarre with the familiar to tell a simple tale of inertia. Robert and Steve work the nightshift in a convenience store and muse about the fact that things never change. Fare Bene Mikles (Being Good At Mikles, Christian Mario Angeli) is perhaps the most outlandish of the pack, focusing on the relationship between siblings Sérgio and Maria. The short has a tense edge to it and features a strong performance by the lead actress. Trafic (Traffic, Catalin Mitulescu) is the contribution that most vividly illustrates the theme of alienation that permeates these shorts. Set during the rush hour in Bucharest, the film is protagonised by a young businessman called Tudor who is late for a meeting. He gets stuck in traffic and caught up in a universe of mobile phones, street sellers and other elements that make modern urban life a chaos of communication overkill, paradoxically killing the possibility of real interaction between people.

Canciones de Invierno (Winter Songs, Félix Viscarret, see links for interview with the director) translates with great visual flair the desolation caused by the onset of winter and features a collection of insomniac and heart-broken people in a semi-futurist, anonymous European set. Mekong Interior (Vanessa Ly) follows the inner journey of a half-Cambodian Frenchman when he returns to his father’s motherland in the company of his blonde, French girlfriend and tries to connect to his ancestral roots. This short borrows heavily from the visual grammar of the Novelle Vague and the washed-out celluloid look gives it a look that is different from the crispness that characterises its companion pieces. Finally, Breaking Out (Marianela Maldonado) is an unflinching look at the final moments of a woman’s depression, before she finally manages to break away from the dark rut she finds herself stuck in to re-engage with the rest of the world. It’s a life-affirming piece that starts out in extreme dark and gradually takes the viewer to the light alongside the main character.

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