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A Short Walk

Directed by Jagoda Szelc Short film review by Monica Jowett

Short film from polish director Jagoda Szelc follows a young man as he takes a camera crew around a city telling his story of how he came to be there, after he escaped from the Donbass region in Ukraine. Filmed as a documentary, A Short Walk gives insight into what happened to those who fought in the 2014 Ukrainian conflict.

The film opens with a fun scene full of laughter of a group of young men jumping into a pool found in a ruined building, and we are given a sense of unsuspecting happiness. Some of the boys are clearly nervous of taking the jump to the pool that is quite a few feet below, and are encouraged by their friends. Others jump in without a second’s hesitation.

A young man, whose face is never clearly seen and name not revealed, takes a camera crew around a city in Russia at night looking for a place to share his story. He is asked questions by an unseen woman about how he came to be there. He avoids people who walk by him, his head covered by his hooded jacket. There are mentions of soldiers and at one point they are confronted by a police officer who doesn’t like the presence of the camera. Primarily filmed over his shoulder, people who walk past seem curious of the camera and linger slightly and we are given a glimpse of life at the city at night, though the subject of the film simply carries on with a sense of purpose.

As the man reveals his story he is often cut off by sounds of sirens, or pauses to collect his thoughts; because of this, we know that the short is filmed in real time with jump cuts showing a slight passage of time. The camera is shaking, moving to the movements of someone walking, and the focus changes as the crew follows the man, often the whole shot is blurred and other times everything is in focus.

The young man’s story is heart-breaking and saddening to hear from an audience who knows little of the subject he talks about. As he repeats it in a matter of fact manner it is almost difficult to listen to as he admits to having killed people, and has left behind a wife and child. This documentary short film A Short Walk is a brave piece of filmmaking, as it carries the importance of hearing the stories of people who had to escape Donbass region of Ukraine after the war.

A Short Walk is one of the films at this year's Cork Film Festival. For more film reviews of other entries, check out our Festivals page.


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