Gregor’s Bed – Three “Hero Journey” Indie Shorts

Recent Discoveries from the Realm of the Experimental and the Avant Garde

Gregor’s Bed – Three “Hero Journey” Indie Shorts

Feast of the Foolish (USA)

The Runner (Germany)

The Fisher (USA)

If, as Francesco Casetti so eloquently states, film is a way of negotiating reality, then you’d think independent film shorts would represent a series of asides, the whispers and mumblings of courtroom visitors. Such is not always the case, however. In fact, we find many of the best shorts getting very quickly to the point and nailing the truth while circumventing the time and expense of a feature film.

The goal of these three shorts seems to be not so much to make an intellectual argument as to allow the viewer to experience an intense situation vicariously so that the emotions experienced can inform the intellect and promote a moral stance based on a view of reality that the film has rendered more clear and immediate.

In the first two shorts, the protagonists are left to deal with realities that push the thresholds of human psychic endurance; at the same time they present analogies of the universal human experience once the ego defense is broken down, the sense that we’re abandoned and defenseless within a heartless universe.

Feast of the Foolish is a jarring ride through the experience of being rejected by a malignant narcissist. The cowboy, Oliver, stumbles, lost, confused, and bleeding, through a surreal spaghetti Western landscape peopled by simple peasants who undergo a brief, bizarre incarnation: they somehow turn into a bohemian acting troop that warns him of danger while underlining the absurdity of his plight and guiding him through it.

Among the significant images in the tale?including tarot cards, guns, and crones?is one of those houses made of coloured bottles lodged in concrete walls. Looking like a little jewel box in the night, it reminds us of the gingerbread house in Hansel and Gretel; the habitation of a witch who tempts and feeds in order to capture and fatten her victims and devour them.

The title of this film suggests a key piece in the emotional jigsaw?the feeling that Oliver knew what he was getting into and pursued the relationship anyway. Why? Because of the realization of one of the worst of human fears, the dread that perhaps we’ve put all our faith in a love that never existed.

In The Runner, a poor boy in Cape Town believes he must somehow find the money to pay for a surgery to save his mother’s life. He’s willing to do anything. When her life is saved by the surgeons, he realizes the enormity of what he’s done; his heroic act of love and sacrifice is now seen to have been a monstrous and pointless error. The terrible fear and shame he must now face eclipses the joy, relief, and gratitude he should be experiencing on hearing of his mother’s survival. This terrible conflict is clearly registered on the face of this excellent child actor (Cwangco Mayekiso) when the doctor tells him that all is well.

All three of these shorts portray harsh predicaments, but the third, The Fisher, shows us the rainbow after the existential deluge. It’s a moving animated piece featuring an adorably homely little creature in a yellow nor?wester and fisherman’s rain hat. He lives alone in a little shanty in a fishing village beside a grey sea and cherishes a photo of someone whom he has lost and still loves. A series of accidents blow him out to sea, and all that he fears comes true. But in the end he experiences that state to which the spirit aspires: the final realization that all is one and that he, for one, is one with all.

Wanda also penned the poems for the artist book They Tell My Tale to Children Now to Help Them to be Good, a collection of meditations on fairy tales, illustrated by artist Susan Malmstrom.