The National Film Board of Canada has three short films at this year’s Annecy Film Festival (June 13th to 18th) )competition. They are The Flying Sailor by Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby; Meneath: The Hidden Island of Ethics by Terril Calder and Magical Caresses: Sweet Jesus by Lori Malépart-Traversy. The first of the three is making its world premiere and the other two have been available for at least a year. In what’s offered is a highlight reel of what women producers/content creators can express concerning reflections on existence, identity and sexuality.
The latter is a topic I’ve opted not to analyse. However, for the other two, I’ve enjoyed their discourse. I’ve expounded about Meneath when it first debuted, and am glad to see it entered into competition. It’s a haunting look at a troubled time for First Nations children in Canada, and I’ll be curious to see how it’ll rank at Annecy.
The Flying Sailor Review
I’m ready to start digging through the old gazettes recounting the 1917 nautical incident at Halifax Harbour that inspired this piece. I’m wondering how many people were there when the explosion happened, and survived to tell that tale!
One witness was thrown kilometres away and amazingly survived. The boat carrying the TNT probably had more than a megaton of force to create that kind of velocity. This sailor must’ve had more than his life flash before his eyes as he went flying and what we get presented with is a beautifully orchestrated look at those moments that defined him. This work is a mesmerising ballet, complete with a complex musical coda to bring all the visual elements together.
Also, the mixed media approach to represent this man’s life is rich with symbolism. We’re not meant to understand everything that defined this man’s life, but the finale made me think of the cosmic egg, and this individual’s rebirth.
Even more striking is in what the sea represents. As for what truths he’s found, he’s not saying. As a result, I’m interested in finding out more about the real life survivor, and what became of him afterwards. As a result, this short by Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby has a lot to offer as medicine for the contemplative mind.
Even after successive watches, I can’t help but also wonder what goes through a person’s mind after being struck by lightning, too. Few people survive that concussive force, but the similarities are the same. They can be thrown away too. Those survivors also tend to experience some kind of spiritual change, which is what I believe the fish represents.
Perhaps what we’re supposed to take away from The Flying Sailor is that he has to remember who we are, body and soul. It’s not just about what defines us, but also in where we belong in that cosmic space.