by Faruq Oyekan
February 28, is a short film by writer and director Diana Galimzyanova. The film all in all is an unique perspective on social disconnect. The plot of the film plays out like a fish out of water story written by Woody Allen, but directed by Harmony Korine. In English this means that the film is different them what you might expect from your average short, but narratively brilliant.
Guarded and aloof cancer survivor is trying to return to the normal life and forget the horrors of the defeated disease that are still haunting her. She finds a new job but it seems that she has nothing in common with other people. Socially withdrawing herself, she is stuck inside her own world filled with despair and flashbacks.
The film is not a showcase of cinematography or other camera techniques instead its strongest suite is its narrative and acting. The film’s lead puts on an amazing performance that grabs the viewers’ attention and refuses to let go. The rest of the film’s casts are equally as engaging and showcase beautiful chemistry with the lead to create the feeling of social disconnect that makes the film so unique.
This film makes great use of its time, with a runtime that is only 12 minutes long February 28 is able to capture its tone perfectly and create characters that stick in the viewer’s mind. The tone of haunting and the feeling of despair is captured in a way that can resonate with the viewer and make them feel invested in the film’s lead.
Diana Galimzyanova displays in February 28 her innate ability to tell stories with a style that is virtually unique. To experience this style one must watch this film and see it firsthand. Galimzyanova’s presentation is refreshing, exciting, and contains a voice that is heavily influence by art in general.
The story is loosely based on my own personal experience. And I’ve noticed that although there are many films about cancer, most of them are about either treatment or terminal stage, with significant lack of movies that tell what happens after the person is cured and the main threat to life is presumably gone.
Again, while not a showcase of camera technical brilliance, Diana Galimzyanova’s February 28 is spot on in the production department. The setting captures the look and tone communicated by its narrative. Its style is consistent and never feels out of place.
Galimzyanova proves her brilliance as a filmmaker through this short.
For those who are fans on films with a voice and an even stronger narrative, Diana Galimzyanova’s February 28 is the short to watch. Though it’s not available now on the internet, feel free to keep track of its progress on its website and check it out at a festival near you.
Diana Galimzyanova (Director/Writer)
First of all how long have you been film making? What got you interested?
I’ve been writing ever since I remember. Short stories, plays, haiku, poetry, you name it. I also remember directing shorts plays for my grandparents with my cousin and me as actors when I was 10. I decided that I want to be a filmmaker at the age of 20. I’ve always been a bit socially awkward and introverted so finding collaborators was the hardest task for me and still is. That’s why I started with shooting experimental non-narrative stuff with my mobile phone and later 5D. Film school didn’t work for me so I started attending courses, workshops, reading filmmaking books and watching educational videos. Eventually I felt ready to shoot my first narrative and did it.
What inspired this short?
The story is loosely based on my own personal experience. And I’ve noticed that although there are many films about cancer, most of them are about either treatment or terminal stage, with significant lack of movies that tell what happens after the person is cured and the main threat to life is presumably gone. What to do when the life has been inevitably changed, leaving the person in alienation and depression. How can a person cope with, regain his life and forget the horrors of life threating disease? I really wanted to answer to these questions in my film. My goal was to capture the subtle feelings that a person is experiencing while going through this kind of events.
Any interesting behind the scene stories?
Nope. The weird thing is the production was really smooth, everything went according to plan, ahead of schedule even.
What is it like film making now after having made this film? Has your approach changed?
I learned from my own mistake that sound is really important, you could have the most expensive 28K camera but the crappy sound would damage your film. That’s why I hired a pro sound recordist for my next short.
Do you have any projects lined up for the future?
I’ve recently finished my next short called “Imaginary fiend”, an allegory for life with Aspergers syndrome; it premiered in NYC and at Short film Corner in Cannes last month. Now I’m writing a screenplay for my next short, a film noir.
Any advice to filmmakers?
Don’t stop learning. We live in the age when everything is available from your home, you could watch all the amazing workshops and listen to lectures to learn new things and broaden your horizon. Personally, I’m a huge fan of websites like Coursera