The title AF_SO_MONT_NB is poised for mystery. Is it one word? Abbreviations? Or the tail end of some obscure URL? If clear answers are what you’re after, Barbara Peikert’s two-minute piece probably isn’t for you. With the use of innovative techniques, Peikert’s short explores ideas of sight and sound.
Rather than a series of different shots, this film is comprised predominantly of the one single scene that glides across the screen, oscillating in size and gently spinning. This is an original and unexpected kind of sequence that mimics the unsteadiness and limits of human eyesight. In this way, AF_SO_MONT_NB makes an interesting point about how staged films really are. Even the shaky camera style made popular by action films such as The Bourne Identity [Doug Liman, USA, 2002] does not even come close to our uneven gaze.
However, the images shown are neither beautiful nor particularly striking. Although, in her director’s statement, Barbara Peikert explains that the short is intended to highlight concepts of light and perception, a concrete purpose does not come across in the short itself. One could argue that films, or any kind of art, have no obligation to explain themselves, but perhaps AF_SO_MONT_NB could have benefitted from a little more focus on its aim.
Further to this, it remains unclear why Peikert selected such a jarring soundtrack. The jangling chords of an accordion are connected to the movement of the images, which could give some potential for fruitful interpretation, but the music is so grating that it is hard to concentrate on anything else.
Despite this film’s drawbacks, the novelty of its techniques deserves some merit. After all, AF_SO_MONT_NB does manage to push the boundaries of short film, and that alone is something to be proud of.
‘AF_SO_MONT_NB’ was a film in consideration for Short Focus Film Festival 2019.