Short Movie Time: But It Did Happen (2022) [Skip City International D-Cinema Festival]

Introduction

Some directors try their hands at a feature film after making a few short narratives. Others, take their time and explore the medium of cinema by making many short films. One such director is Yuichi Suita. While he already worked as an assistant cinematographer for Yoji Yamada, he continues to perfect his craft by making shorts. Many of his shorts have screened at international film festivals.  

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Review

One night, a mother (Yoshiko Tatsumi) is making bento lunchboxes for herself and her child. The following morning, she takes one bento-lunchbox. The other one remains untouched for the whole day.  

But It did Happen is not simply a narrative that deals with suicide, but one that explores the effects of the refusal of the subject to fully accept the death of a loved one and avoidance to inscribe such death in one’s personal narrative.   

But It Did Happen (2022) by Yuichi Suita

While the spectator feels, at first, as he merely watching a concatenation of fragments exploring a working mother’s daily life, the weight of silence – an absence of speech made sensible by the background noises or the pauses between enunciations – and the elegant visual emphasis on absence as such elegantly implies that the mundanity by which the mother’s day unfold is deeply marked by a subjective refusal.      

This refusal is, first, evoked by associating two images as signifiers together: the bento box that is left behind on the table and the emptiness that surrounds a chair at high school. As the day unfolds, and the mother, who works as a teacher at a high school, is asked to deal with a recent suicide at her school, she subtly avoids the confrontation with everything that might bring her too close to the Real of death that she is not ready to deal with (Narra-note 1).    

The composition of But It Did Happen is quite straightforward – a simple concatenation of static shots. Yet, what sets Suita’s composition apart is its refined rhythm. The compositional rhythm of the narrative is determined by one simple thing: the thoughtful use of the cut.  

But It Did Happen (2022) by Yuichi Suita

The pleasant rhythm of the composition, of course, plays an important role in making the narrative visually pleasing. Yet, it is not the only element. What also heightens the visual pleasure of But It Did Happen is the well-thought out lighting and colour-design and the use of depth-of-field.   

With But It Did Happen, Ruichi Suita offers a masterclass in using images as signifiers and concatenating them elegantly to sketch out the unaccepted truth that determines a subject’s signifiers and acts. In this way, he offers the spectator an insight in how a subject, to keep what cannot be accepted away, elegantly avoids the signs that might force him to deal with the Real of death.  

Notes

Narra-note 1: Even though Suita’s description of the narrative reveals that the child of the mother as a shut-in, there is no evidence in the narrative that proves that this child is truly present, truly alive. The vagueness around the child’s presence allows the spectator to interpret this absence more radical, as a death not yet accepted.   

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