Review | Jan Verdijk's A Stranger from the Past A film review written by the SHIFT Youth Jury member Zoé Stegers.
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Review | Jan Verdijk's A Stranger from the Past

A film review written by the SHIFT Youth Jury member Zoé Stegers.

In this year's edition of the SHIFT Film Festival, the Youth Jury got the opportunity to receive a free-of-charge coaching by the film critic Bjorn Gabriels who taught the basics of film analysis and how to write a good film review. Jan Verdijk's film A Stranger from the Past was one of the 12 films which has officially been selected to the festival's Short Film Competition. After having attended the workshops, Youth Jury member Zoé Stegers reviews the film.


26 september 2020

Is it really any good to stick to old technologies and ways of living? This is the question Jan Verdijk deals with in his innovative short film A Stranger from the Past. Sustainable living and sustainable fuel are topics everyone, even older generations, should care about. This is presented to the viewer through an interesting and creative story with great acting, a convincing style and authentic sets. The protagonist experiences an unwanted guest suddenly emerging from an old car. He is scared of the demonic appearance. The alien shows clear signs of being lethal, creating an adrenaline- and action-filled short adventure.

Throughout the whole short movie the high quality is noticeable in all shots, making the film enjoyable to watch not only story-wise but also concerning the whole atmosphere and mood. Dramatic music and sets underline the seriousness of the situation. Yes, the whole film is short, but the suspense makes up for the length, which makes the viewer get immersed in the story. The visitor is clearly inhuman and can almost be described as animalistic if not as something out of this world. Surely the make-up helped but the use of sclera lenses, that were worn during the whole day of shooting, shows the determination and the need to make it authentic. The creature made our protagonist fear for his life, its appearance and actions understandably cause anxiety but also curiosity. 

However, the actual problem goes way deeper than 'just' a monster scaring someone: Verdijk successfully brings attention to a topic that is way more important in reality, namely fossil fuel. Extracting them is not only harmful for nature, but it also destroys the homes of people and other beings. It is scientifically proven that we can not use these recourses for much longer, so why not change now, rather than when it is too late? There are more sustainable and regenerative energy sources we can use. Whilst we might not be accustomed to them we will definitely benefit from them in the future, so this is the better solution than just staying where we are. In that sense the problem is "a stranger from the past": The problem is not new, it was there before, for example in times when the car that is used in the film was modern. But now the problem is urgent.

We need more awareness and this short film brings it to us. Maybe not in an "in your face" way, but in a subtle way. This approach might be more on the imaginative and creative action side rather than on the informative side, but it still delivers its message: Not everything from the past turned out to be good for us, neither now nor in the future. Clearly, changing our life and being informed about our surroundings and the effects our lives have on nature , no matter how uncomfortable this might be for us, is important for improving our ways of life, for the environment's sake. This issue stays relevant. The stranger, if not monster, from the past should show the nightmares of staying the same, damaging and destroying our earth and our future. Therefore, we should stand up against fossil fuels. Be modern, be conscious.

(c) All visual material is used with the filmmaker's permission.

Over de auteur: Zoé Stegers

Zoé Stegers (18) is a freshly graduated German pupil who studied Design and Art. Zoé is highly interested in different cultures, therefore her favourite motto is "Art knows no borders".

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