Five best submissions of Reality Bytes night two


Courtesy of Patrick Murphy

Reality Bytes poster created by Patrick Murphy

By Jacob Baker

The 2021 independent student film festival Reality Bytes premiered April 12 on Vimeo. The festival lasted for three nights with submissions from every category of filmmaking from across the world. Each night showcased six or more films. Here are the five best films of night two. 

‘The Eternal Present’ directed by Ignacio Rosaslanda

“The Eternal Present” is a Mexico-based documentary detailing the fallout of the lack of government attention placed upon more than 73,000 missing persons cases. The viewer follows a search brigade taking matters into their own hands in order to hopefully find those missing alive, or to properly put them to rest. 

Organized crime has played a huge role into the sheer amount of disappearances across the country, and the details and findings of those missing is often very tough to watch. Director Ignacio Rosaslanda does an excellent job of putting this uphill task into perspective through a clear look at the amount of land these search brigades must cover through daunting shots that convey hopelessness. To put the situation into more perspective, in the length of the documentary, the search brigade finds two bodies while 54 others have gone missing in that same time. 

“The Eternal Present” is an effective documentary through its strong filmmaking and attention to an issue that many aren’t aware of. 

‘Into the Horizon’ directed by Aiden Keltner 

“Into the Horizon” follows a man in a coma during his last moments. As the man isn’t responsive, in his mind he’s his younger self on the shore of a beach. Back on his deathbed, he is accompanied by his wife finally coming to terms with him moving on and telling him he can stop holding on. 

Once the man hears this, in his mind he’s able to jump into the water, feeling at peace with what he has left behind during his time with the world. “Into the Horizon” is a unique perspective on a person in their last moments with a clear and concise sense of direction. 

‘Chopper’ directed by Giorgos Kapsanakis

“Chopper” depicts an ex-biker with dementia who’s on his way to a nursing home for his last days until his granddaughter, Angie, delays the process in a wholesome act of love. “Chopper” doesn’t go above its wheelhouse to do anything crazy in terms of its filmmaking, but the sincere performance Eleanor Inglis is what really sets this film apart. There’s also a really cool credit sequence that shows a blueprint of a chopper and its various parts corresponding with those who worked on the film. 

Angie helps her grandfather relive one last imaginary excursion as a biker, providing him with road trip commentary and his old leather jacket. Director Giorgos Kapsanakis truly makes the viewers care about the relationship between Angie and her grandfather. 

‘Drought’ directed by Mia Salera 

Based in a post-apocalyptic wasteland that was once New York City, a woman is on a quest for any semblance of water. This animated short will impress anyone who watches it; the animation is near Pixar-level. 

Where the animation and aesthetics really stand out is within buildings. It’s easy to tell a lot of care was put into the animation and how the world the animators crafted would make the viewer feel. There are also some quick hallucinogenic sequences that look fantastic. On top of it all, the final shot drives home the big message. 

‘Lion on the Mat’ directed by Asali Echols

“Lion on the Mat” is a documentary that follows Vietnamese-American, single mother Mai Nguyen and her passion for jiu-jitsu. The documentary is pretty standard in its storytelling methods, like touching on how Nguyen grew up, how she translated living in another country and the hardships along the way. But it is so easy to get lost watching Nguyen and her story unfold that it really doesn’t matter. The best aspect of it all is the focus on close-up shots of Nguyen because it makes the viewer feel connected to her life and training.