PBS Short Film Festival 2021 Review: Stacey Holloway, Coup d’Etat Math, and Story of Your Life

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Stacey Holloway

I will confess, it was tricky for me to look past the silicone body parts…

Ultimately, I decided to give more consideration to what was most important, and that is the artist’s vision. It is easy to look at this short film and focus on the unusual aspects of it, but I really want to appreciate Stacey Holloway’s ingenuity with her installation.

Art is about the journey our minds take us on when we are on a rare creative streak. Looking past the art pieces, it is important to focus on the thought process that went into creating this work. It is amazing how-and why-her mind thought to pursue this endeavor. I just think about the hours spent and the overall planning for this project, and the engineering is crazy. I think this film serves to highlight art as more of a creative course that is not meant to be beautiful but to operate with the single purpose of making the spectator feel something.

Coup d’Etat Math

I love, love, love the concept of this short film. It is superb, and by far one of my favorites of this whole festival. It is basically four storylines in one, but each storyline seems to end in a cliffhanger. Each story details a separate struggle with immigration. The film ropes you in, then let’s you fall, as you are left to assume what each person’s outcome is going to be. It is not a pretty film, but I love how the stories attempt to celebrate the extraordinary lives of these people and praise them for having the courage to dream.

My favorite part of the film is the filmmaker’s choice to make Coup d’Etat Math an animation. The animated feature really makes each narrative become the dominant focus, with the visuals only serving to enhance the storytelling.

Story of Your Life

What I enjoy most about this film is how it retains this sweet and innocent tone, but also appears oddly obscure. I really was not expecting Story of Your Life to be as dark as it was. As an observer, you watch as a young woman dances gracefully in front of a wall projection of her most memorable moments. It is like watching a ballet recital and, just like that, her display tersely ends.