Directed by: #MartinPonferrada
Written by: #MartinPonferrada
Short Film Review by: #ChrisBuick
Dreams can mean many things. They can be surreal, cerebral manifestations of our inner most fears, insecurities or desires. Some believe that they might even at times be a premonition of things to come. Some of course, can be quite a bit more literal in their meaning.
Back in the summer of 2016, filmmaker Martin Ponferrada conducted a series of interviews with practicing Buddhists from all over world focusing primarily on the subject of dreams, collating over ten hours’ worth of recordings in the process. Now, through his #shortfilm Everything Is Upstream, Ponferrada has cut those recordings to just under ten minutes, using them as the base narrative for a collection of animated visualisations that depict five of these individuals most vivid dreams.
The aspect of this film that was perhaps the most crucial to get right is thankfully also the part the film excels in; the animation.
Conducted by Ponferrada himself, Everything Is Upstream really manages to evoke the required dream-like sensibilities the piece needs to work as a concept, the captivating imagery is at times really beautiful. Simple blacks and whites might be the dominating colour palette at play throughout (peppered with the odd splash of colour here and there), but the monochromatic presentation in fact creates a brilliant sense of clarity as to what we're seeing, even when the narrative lets it down, managing to always set a very clear tone for each tale whether it be light or dark.
Having achieved great things visually, it’s a shame then that the other core aspect of the film feels somewhat lacking in comparison. What’s most disappointing about Everything Is Upstream is that despite the films well-crafted style, it’s underlying content is nowhere near as interesting the film wants it to be, and it squanders a great chance to really explore the unique perspectives of what are most definitely some very fascinating individuals.
The film never seems to really want to offer up any deep or meaningful insights into its subject matter, or at least try to instigate some kind of philosophical discussion as to the psychology behind these vivid subconscious adventures and while one could argue that the intent here is to leave it all open to interpretation, it doesn’t seem smart enough for that. Instead, it simply limits itself to mere blow-by-blow commentaries that do of course work for creating the narrative played out in the animation, but many might be expecting something a bit more substantial given the premise and the films subjects.
Visually inspiring, but not as mentally stimulating as it perhaps hopes to be, it feels like Everything Is Upstream plays things a bit too safe when it could and should have been a bit smarter and bolder in its meaning rather than just simply in it's aesthetics.
Watch the trailer here: