HADES (2015) Synopsis: A woman is caught in an endless dream where she has to cross the five rivers of Hades- each representing different stages of her relationship.
TLMEA (2016) Synopsis: TLMEA tells the story of 2 undercover cops, caught in a dream during a drug raid in which they descend into the 9th level of hell- the Ptolomea.
REVIEW(S): To analyze these films I need to do so simultaneously, as they are the first two chapters of an emerging trilogy.
These short film offerings are the brainchild of Austrian artist and filmmaker Kevin Kopacka and his writing partner H.K.DeWitt. The Kopacka and DeWitt duo emerges triumphantly with these short films and leaves me reeling as I await the third and final installment.
Totalling only approximately 48 minutes together, the directors artistic creativity is strongly evident and this is a fantastic indication of what is yet to emerge.
Kopacka, a graduate of the University of Berlin, studied art and has made his living as a painter. This influences the films and is reflected, in his ability to use color and shapes within his direction. We see bold and beautiful color saturation with our own eyes. The hazy reddish hues, striking gentle yellows, sinister and complex greens, pinkish tinges of strangeness and the cooling creepy blues; add another dimension to the atmosphere of the shorts and make them feel elongated (honestly Hades is merely 15 minutes long and I was so immersed I felt like I had been watching it for much longer!). We are drawn into this colorfully emotive world, we feel a range of emotions and we drown in a beautiful sea of tone and light.
I liken Kopacka’s use of color, to a similar technique used by Michael Mann in his 1986 classic film Manhunter. Kopacka emulates the colorful tones, but somehow I found Kopacka created even more depth and emotion, within his shorter time frames. Added to the electrifying use of color, is the literary element.
Flashed upon our screen intermittently through each film are statements that guide the film, let us know what stage we are viewing and even relay a sentiment with ease. My favorite example of this was the opening flash of words (for Hades) which immediately set the mood throughout and simply read: “Midday on our life’s journey, I found myself in dark woods, the right road lost.”
The narrative itself is quirky and inventive, and this- although very unique and different approach- is what adds a charming quality to these shorts. I found it amazingly enjoyable personally and love this choice of story telling technique. In both films Kopacka’s direction and his teaming with DeWitt for writing, is strong and creates an easily view able atmosphere.
Our leading lady in both films is M (played by Anna Heidegger– a model and upcoming actress), who impresses easily on the eye and is a delight to watch both at either lighting up her scenes or adding a sombre sorrow and peculiar confusion to them. She melds well with her co stars and at times reminded me of a young Mia Farrow, flitting from a striking beauty towards messy confusion. She is at times disjointed, lost, even seemingly eternally searching. She is extremely enigmatic and we feel drawn to her.
In TLMEA she isn’t at the forefront continuously and her male co stars drive the story. We are confronted with their harsher, sometimes nastier personas. We see an uglier and darker side to their manner. And yet again, through their portrayals, we feel for (most of) them and we watch on waiting to see where the tumbling story line will send us. We are, again, hooked.
Both films relay images to us in a flip book fashion. At moments a cascade of scenes are replayed in parts and paired with the lighting, usage of the beautiful color palate and an amazing score (two notable breathtaking renditions of familiar songs – Baby I Love You and In The Still Of The Night– sung by our director himself) all mesh wonderfully together and easily continue to pull us down the rabbit hole and into these dream like films.
If you can see these films, please do. Hades alone has been viewed at 20 film festivals and received 8 awards. They are amazingly created and I have a feeling that both Kopacka and DeWitt -along with their cast and crew- have a longevity which will endure far beyond any expectations.