The President’s Visit

By Cyril Aris | Comedy
A soap maker learns the president is visiting him. Then the town finds out.

Nino is the “sultan of soap” of his village, eking out a living in his sleepy yet contentious seaside fishing town.

One day, though, he gets a call from his country’s president: the president intends to visit the soap maker as part of his campaign to “clean up” the country of corruption and wants all his best soap — and plenty of it. For security reasons, Nino isn’t told the date or hour of the president’s arrival and is not allowed to tell anyone else.

Of course, Nino tells one of his fellow villagers, and the news spreads. Soon the whole town frantically prepares for the president’s visit: everyone dresses up, festoons the village with flags and posters of the president, all with the intent of impressing the president. They embark on their own campaigns to get the president’s attention, much to the consternation of Nino, who clearly endangered the confidentiality he was supposed to keep.

Unable to keep the village under control, the rivalries and tensions latent between people bubble up. And in the chaos, the village’s attempts to clean up its image backfires — although the village doesn’t quite see it that way.

Absurdist political comedy is not often a genre you see in short films, but writer-director Cyril Aris’s short does a remarkable job of encapsulating a wide-ranging political situation within one event and pushing its premise to the most extreme end, with humorous yet sharply insightful results.

There’s no shortage of excellent craftsmanship in the film, with its elegant cinematography and stately editing, and there is a studied, almost mannered quality to the compositions that will remind some of Wes Anderson. The village itself functions much like a collective protagonist, and while Nino is the main character, visually there’s an emphasis on wide and group shots, or shots that situate Nino in a moving tableau of village life.

The visuals are subtly stylized and striking, but the foundational strength of the short rests on its exceptional writing, which possesses a keen eye for the absurdities created by human vanity and an ear for the hypocrisies we tell one another in the service of ego. The narrative scale is confined to one visit, but the script’s ability to create layers of subtlety and context is remarkably complex. Though it’s played for laughs, the villagers’ frenzy feels very true to a societal portrait of humankind’s worst impulses — impulses that can’t be kept in check, resulting in chaos and damage that is blithely overlooked in the face of power.

The take on politics in “The President’s Visit” is ultimately astringent in its sharpness, and though the film plays out much like a comedy, its portrayal of a populace’s willingness to kowtow to power even to their own detriment is essentially a tragedy — one hinted at the film’s resonant final shots. It also emerges as a parable about the willingness of people to blindly follow a leader, no matter how problematic he or she is.

Though “The President’s Visit” has the feel of a fable in its stylization at times, it’s rooted in real life: there’s plenty of examples of a lack of critical thought in yesterday’s history or today’s news, which makes the film’s wry humor both a consolation and despair.




You Might Also Like:

More Than God

By Kev Cahill | Comedy
A devoted husband suspects his wife is cheating on him. Then he hides under the bed.

The Things You Think I’m Thinking

By Sherren Lee | Drama
A burn-survivor goes on his first date after his accident.

The Landing

By Josh Tanner | Sci-Fi
A man uncovers the horrifying truth of what landed on his childhood farm.

Sometimes, I Think About Dying (Sundance)

By Stefanie Abel Horowitz | Drama
A woman thinks about dying. But a co-worker asks her out.

The Goodnight Show

By Charlie Schwan | Sci-Fi
A virgin tries to get laid before an unstoppable asteroid ends the world.

Naysayer ft. Steven Yeun

By David M. Helman | Drama
A young father who is cut off from his son takes matters into his own hands.

Retouch

By Kaveh Mazaheri | Drama
An Iranian woman's husband has an accident at home... and she just watches him die.

Joseph’s Reel

By Michael Lavers | Romance
An elderly man is given the opportunity to relive one day of his life.

Lost and Found (The Oscars)

By Andrew Goldsmith and Bradley Slabe | Animation
A crochet dinosaur must unravel itself to save the love of its life.

Reception

By Joe Gillette | Romance
2 strangers at a wedding reception make an unexpected connection.

Exit Strategy

By Travis Bible | Sci-Fi
A man in a time-loop must work with his brother to prevent a catastrophic fire.

Garfield (Sundance)

By Georgi Bank-Davies | Romance
A young woman wakes up in a strange place, with a strange guy.

Partners (Sundance)

By Joey Ally | Romance
A couple's sex life is in a slump, forcing them to reconsider the relationship.

Spoetnik

By Noel Loozen | Comedy
A young man works in a food truck, across from a brothel with a girl who needs his help.

Long Branch

By Dane Clark and Linsey Stewart | Romance
A young woman finds a one-night stand. But he lives 2 hours away via public transit.



Your favorite short films you haven't seen yet.

Inspiring and insightful. Entertaining and enlightening.
That's what you can expect here: no fluff. Just a steady
stream of the best films delivered to your inbox.