AFFECTION (JAYDENART) (SHORT FILM, 5min)
Directed by: Jayden Yoon Zeng Khai
Starring: Yolanda Chong Wei Ting, Micole Pang Yi Xuan, Yang Ket Liang
Fiona, a young gifted ballet dancer, reflects on her childhood and her close relationship with her deceased father as she prepares for a new recital…
When you notice that there is one person taking on the role of many departments on a film, it can start to ring alarm bells - here is a guy who is going to overstretch himself in order to preserve his artistic vision - either that or he can't afford the staff. Director Jayden Yoon Zeng Khai's coat buttons over many a different tunic on this project and mostly succeeds.
To begin with, Jayden has composed an string quartet score for his film which sounds very classical and a touch melancholic to set the mood. He also acted as cinematographer, an oft-underappreciated and misunderstood role (it is to do with lighting the set, not the camera-work). As such he softens the light on certain scenes - the hotel room where Fiona practices, for example - to give the scene an ethereal quality.
As editor, Jayden has been able to focus on the duality of Fiona - her current self as a confident young ballerina and herself as a young child, just setting out on learning her passion for dance. On first watch, I wondered why the camera would ignore the dancing itself, and indeed Fiona herself, and instead follow the placement of a single foot, or an arm outstretching. On subsequent viewings I was able to appreciate how this focus allows for the scene to seamlessly segue into the past. One exemplary edit sees Fiona leap in the air in the present but land (awkwardly) as a young girl.
There is a bitter sweetness to the story, the fact that Fiona's father never gets to see her fully develop as a woman and a dancer, but for me the film pushes too hard with an epilogue which muddies the water. There is a text at the end which left me confused - Who is now talking? Fiona the dancer, or Jayden the artist? A slight stumble at the end of an otherwise enjoyable short film.