Friday, September 23, 2011

Online Only- Sign Language

Sign Language
Directed by: Oscar Sharp
Source: Palm Springs Shortfest Online Film Festival page on

Sign Language tells the story of Ben, a third-generation advertisement sign holder living in London. Ben's optimistic personality is apparent from the instant his smiling face and wide eyes appear on the screen. Even in a job that most would ordinarily look down upon, Ben finds the beauty in even the smallest everyday happenings on his street. He even talks about a close group of co-workers with high regards, especially one person in particular, Anya, that works across the street. As Ben last shift comes closer and closer to ending, he struggles with the excitement of his promotion and the heartbreak of leaving his familiar street sign family behind.

There is no better word to describe this film than "lighthearted". From beginning to end, we are forced to see the world from Ben's optimistic perspective and instantly feel connected to him. It almost has a quality about it that causes the emotions to sneak up on you. Slowly, you find yourself more and more intrigued about his world and the work that he does. You suddenly realize that you care very much about the relationships he has with the "co-workers" and Anya. There is even the moment of disappointment when he has the heartbreaking feeling that the guys didn't do anything to properly send him off. As soon as the doubt begins to set in that maybe his perception of reality might be different from what is really true, the other signs turn around to give a warm goodbye to their friend and the message of encouragement to finally talk to Anya makes the audience feel sheer happiness. With his face of determination leading to a cut of just the main title on screen, we feel the satisfaction of an ending. However, Ben's voice pops right back on screen and we hear his same optimistic voice answering our lingering questions of "What is his new promotion?" "Is he going to like it?" and "What happened with Anya?". Ben's cheery voice assures us that he still loves Mondays and the director shows us that Anya has taken over his old job while he flies the ever so fitting messenger airplane. This little bit of clip is about twenty seconds long but gives such a full circle ending to such a lighthearted piece of work. Never would I go out and say that this short film changed my life, but I think that it's cliche message of "always look on the bright side of life" is given such an unusual approach and creative delivery that it ultimately does make it stand out. It is definitely a "turn off your brain and smile" film and that is why it is so enjoyable to watch over and over again.

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