Our Take – Small Axe Radical Short Film Reviews by Cole Diment
Night Shifts by Justyna Kabala gives us an all too familiar look into the issues faced by healthcare professionals in the NHS. Kabala’s 8 minute short provides an accessible account of junior doctor’s frustrations and exploitations on the job through its relaxed yet darkly atmospheric feel.
In computer animated environments we listen to voiceover accounts given by junior doctors recently experienced on NHS wards. There is a directness to the stories that harbour to ability to silence and astound. Combined with the slow paced visuals, inching through the environments these workers inhabit, we come to inhabit an affective psychic space similar to that experienced by the workers. This film is thus more about the affect of the work on the doctors than tackling the system as a whole. However, the political nature of this form of storytelling is clear. Not once do we hear the names of the real voice of those involved. This speaks volumes about those unwilling to speak up. The films moody, sombre tone communicates this culture of internal isolation and fear.
One might ask the relevance of digital animation to an issue that is so pertinent and real. Why, if these issues take place in real life, do we see them represented through digital space? I believe the same goes for any type of indirect critique of reality; that often pure observation of fact doesn’t get to an emotional core. This emotional core, the internal that is moulded by our interaction out there, often holds the key, the ideas, that allows us to understand not the structure but those involved. Night Shifts allows us to inhabit this space so that we may under its depressive mood.