Omeleto

Black Swell

By Jake Honig and David Rysdahl | Drama
A man tries to kill himself in a motel room.

A man confined himself to a motel room out in Long Island on a desolate night full of tumultuous wind. Distraught and depressed, he settles into the room and takes out a gun, clearly intending to use it against himself.

But before he can do anything, loud heavy metal music plays in the neighboring room. Distracted and annoyed, he leaves his room to go next door and ask his neighbor to turn down the music, only to be recognized by the neighbor as Mr. Fennimore, his former teacher. The student, named Jordan, attempts to engage his erstwhile teacher in conversation, but is a reminder of the past enough to distract Mr. Fennimore from his grim purpose?

Director Jake Honig and writer David Rhysdahl have crafted a small, compact drama that tackles the difficult, weighty topic of suicide with a remarkable sense of economy. Narrowing its scope to one location, two people and essentially one conversation, it keeps background information and explanations to a minimum.

But within its confines, the storytelling goes deep, starting with the exceptional central performance by veteran character actor Richard Kind, who brings rich specificity and a somber sense of desolation to a desperately unhappy character. Though we don’t know much about Mr. Fennimore — what drove him to the point, for example — Kind’s performance still elicits great compassion from the audience, bringing to life a spare, intelligent script, with its nuanced dialogue and subtle yet precise emotional beats.

Though most of the film takes place in the hotel room, the camerawork nevertheless carves out a dynamic visual approach, emphasizing both Mr. Fennimore’s isolation as well as the eerie, forlorn atmosphere of the cheap motel room. The evocative, beautifully molded sound design emphasizes the waves of the nearby ocean, the metallic clanks of the gun being loaded, the disturbance of the neighbor’s music — all sounds of this strange, cloistered world that evoke the feeling of it all caving in on Mr. Fennimore.

His former student — who is played by writer Rysdahl — offers an interruption to Mr. Fennimore’s plan for the night, and is clearly wants to connect. Yet the emotional distance between them isn’t easily traversed, no matter how hard Jordan tries to draw his former teacher out. It eventually leads to a devastating, unsettling conclusion — one whose impact isn’t easily forgotten, lingering well past the film’s end.

The subject of suicide can easily topple a short film, trying to cram in detail, background and information in an attempt to “make sense” of an almost unthinkable situation. What works so well in “Black Swell” is how it strips down the crisis to its essentials, emphasizing how unmoored and disconnected the sufferer is from anything, how hard it is to reach out and feel seen and heard — and how crucial it is to listen when it’s needed most.





You Might Also Like:

Mordechai

By Benjamin Bee | Drama
An ultra-orthodox Jew hasn't seen his identical twin brother in years. But today is the day of their father's funeral.

Retouch

By Kaveh Mazaheri | Drama
Her husband has an accident at home... and she just watches him die.

Stealing Silver ft. Maisie Williams

By Mark Lobatto | Drama
A woman confronts a painful time in her life after discovering the truth about a mysterious old man living across from her.

Joseph’s Reel

By Michael Lavers | Romance
An elderly man, upon dying, is given the opportunity to relive one day of his life.

Cradle

By Devon Manney | Animation
Returning to the U.S. after losing both arms, a veteran battles phantom pains, prosthetics and memories of his pre-war life.

Hold On

By Charlotte Scott-Wilson | Drama
A young cellist develops stage fright after one of her cello strings comes lose during an important performance.

Don’t Be a Hero

By Pete Lee | Drama
A middle-aged woman battles her loneliness and boredom by robbing banks in the guise of a cowboy on her lunch break.

Our Kind of Love

By Elham Ehsas and Azeem Bhati | Romance
An Afghan village girl goes on her first date in London.

Lost and Found

By Andrew Goldsmith and Bradley Slabe | Animation
A clumsy crochet dinosaur must unravel itself to save the love of its life.

Edmund the Magnificent ft. David Bradley & Ian McKellen

By Ben Ockrent | Comedy
A once-legendary farmer takes a chance and invests his life savings in a thoroughbred piglet.

Reception

By Joe Gillette | Romance
Two strangers, trying to avoid the crowd at a wedding reception, end up making an unexpected connection.

Exit Strategy

By Travis Bible | Sci-Fi
A man in a time loop must work with his brother to prevent a catastrophic fire.

Garfield

By Georgi Bank-Davies | Romance
A young woman wakes up in a strange place, with a strange guy. Then, she start to piece together how she got there.

Partners

By Joey Ally | Romance
A couple's love life begins to slump, forcing them to reconsider the relationship and confront how intertwined they've become.

Balance

By Mark Ram | Drama
Two friends climb a mountain, connected by a rope. But when one falls, the other's life hangs in an unstable balance.


Your favorite short films you haven't seen yet.

Inspiring and insightful. Entertaining and enlightening. That's what you can expect here: no fluff. Just a steady stream of the best films delivered to your inbox.