Six Feet of Separation
10 Apr 2022
Nina Yndis, Fayez Bakhsh
A simple message: stay at home.
A message that now contains so many memories from the months that we lost to a COVID-19 lockdown. Did we learn anything? Toni Nordli’s latest film Six Feet of Separation suggests that we did.
This short features Noah (Fayez Bakhsh) and Dina (Nina Yndis), a young couple living apart in the same city who are forced into a long-distance romance. Despite being in close proximity, they are unable to see each other and so their relationship is put to the test. For many watching, it will act as a reminder of the realities of the early lockdown in 2020. An example being that many UK couples who felt it was too soon to move in together were forced to confront the hardships of being apart. They were unable to rely on the physical presence and support of their significant other and Noah and Dina highlight how romantic relationships had to evolve.
The film contains a variety of different filming mediums, with Noah and Dina mostly communicating via video calling every day on their phones as they continue their every day existence from the comfort and security of their homes. Poor video quality as a result of mediocre internet ensures that the film maintains its realistic centre, as the reality of speaking with people in this way during the first lockdowns is all-to-familiar. A long-distance phone call captures the challenges that come with a lack of physical affection and touch, again allowing these experiences to flood the film. Noah and Dina’s healthy and realistic relationship remains at the centre, as despite their struggle with being apart, their mutual understanding of the situation is maintained. It reminds us not only of our own experiences of living through a pandemic, but of what truly mattered to us.
Much like the central theme of love, as Noah and Dina have to find ways to adapt to this new way of living, many other 2020 experiences are represented in Nordli’s film. We get to remember and laugh about the fact that we actually had to queue outside of shops and once we eventually got in there, the shelves were empty and we could not buy basic items. Noah and Dina joking about being finally able to find eggs or toilet paper is highlighted as comedic relief, yet also captures the ridiculousness of the reality that we as a society actually witnessed that.
Captured is the city of London, typically bursting and bustling with a busy and rushed life, now shown as we have never seen it before – and probably will never see it like again. Numerous cityscape shots and real camera footage sandwich Noah and Dina’s story, reminding us of the context these two characters are in. We are looking at our own pasts as well, looking at a window of time to what we, UK audiences, directly experienced two years ago. Travelling shots of key London landmarks, such as Trafalgar square, Westminster Bridge, Southbank, are all desolate. Main roads are empty as only one or two people walk along the street as we drive around taking in the silence of a beautiful lockdown summer. Billboards along main roads declare the importance of community and thanking the NHS. It is equally beautiful and eerie as we are permitted to remember the places that we didn’t go.
This bittersweet time capsule of a film shows how cautious people were back in 2020 and how we were able to survive an isolation period of being unable to see and comfort many of our loved ones. Viewing these memories two years later, in 2022, is an interesting retrospective as the viewer is able to consider how these events affect us now. Noah and Dina’s love for each other and their families is the defining factor of this ode to 2020 and is a reminder that in times of doubt and despair, we have each other.
Six Feet of Separation is ultimately a heartfelt film about the hope of reunion. Despite the toughness of isolation, it implores that love and togetherness keeps us human during an unfamiliar event of a pandemic.
Viewed at Tromsø International Film Festival, it is exciting to see where this film will screen next.