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What Cheer?

From  Red Bolt Films Staff PicksStaff Picks Created On 17 June 2015


What Cheer? by Michael Slavens Dark Comedy Short Film feels like a 17 minute extension of that gag. But, instead of just being a random throwaway joke, he mines the comedic potential of the premise to explore a man’s struggle with grief. On the surface, the high-concept—a 20-piece punk marching band floods a widower’s world with interminable song—might seem like something designed to be played for in-your-face laughs. But, for all its boisterous, literal orchestration, What Cheer? Is a surprisingly sobering film. The central metaphor is so brilliant in its simplicity—it’s the kind of thing that will make you stop and think to yourself: “Why someone hasn’t does this before?”

To rant a bit, as a curator, I get fed-up with how often “grief” is used as a source of conflict in short films (grief in and of itself is very rarely interesting to watch). But, Slavens’s portrayal of the subject feels fresh—the band is a wonderfully symbolic representation of the agony of mourning. It’s darkly comic, but also so incredibly resonant. In grief, the silence and solitude of one’s loneliness and loss can be deafening—a neverending annoying soundtrack that won’t stop blaring in your head. What Cheer? is a natural extension of this concept, literally personifying that which our protagonist is working so hard to subdue


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