J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Friday, November 02, 2018

DFF ’18: Third Kind (short)

Greece is known for its ancient ruins, but they produce modern ones too. This ghostly abandoned airport is the perfect setting for some post-apocalyptic drama. However, it wasn’t so long ago it was repurposed as a refugee camp. Much of the detritus is still strewn about, adding to the wasteland-like atmosphere in Yorgos Zois’s thirty-minute short film, Third Kind (trailer here), which screens as part of the 2018 Denver Film Festival.

Three archaeologists have travelled across space and time to track the source of a mysterious transmission. It has been years since the Earth was inhabited, or so they assumed. However, there may still be a survivor left amongst the rubble. Surveying the ghostly site is a surreal process, but undeniably cinematic. Still, it never fully obscures the obvious and awkward question: what sort of clash of civilizations could bring about the almost complete extinction of life of Earth? A mere lack of charity certainly cannot account for the future state of affairs.

By the way, that transmission is a repeated five note musical pattern. The first four will sound gosh darn familiar—or they should. That title is part of an extended homage to Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but the final note of the classic five-tone theme has been altered—perhaps for legal reasons. Nevertheless, whenever the 5-tone figure plays, it sounds distractingly “wrong,” like someone perversely keeps hitting the wrong key.

So yes, it sounds off-key, but Yannis Kanakis’s eerie cinematography is spectacular to behold. It really is all about the otherworldly vibe, because Zois & co-screenwriter Konstantina Kotzamani’s narrative does not amount to much. Not essentially viewing by any stretch, Third Kind is still sort of worth seeing just for the gawking experience when it screens tomorrow (11/3), Sunday (11/4) and the following Sunday (11/11), as part of the Shorts: Narrative 1 program at this year’s Denver Film Festival.

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