Films: Defining A Generation



Have you ever sat back and wondered how our generation will be remembered? It won’t be for the rock and roll from the ’80s, or the punk and grunge from the ’90s, so what sets us apart from the rest? At the World Youth Alliance’s 2nd Annual Manhattan International Film Festival, we caught a glimpse of how the human condition of our generation will be remembered. Although almost all 15 of the short films presented were period pieces, there were 3 films in particular that spoke to the audience and to me about the aura of this generation and how it will be remembered throughout time.

In a film by a Taiwanese director entitled, “Lonely Planet”, we become engrossed in a story about a young boy so caught up in current day technology that he loses touch with reality. As a teenager of this generation, I even saw a bit of myself in this short film. Technology has become our new reality and face-to-face communication is dwindling in our society. People who have access to innovative technologies can sometimes pour so much of themselves into their gadgets that they lose touch with the important things in their lives. In this film, we see a boy so engrossed in his social networking sites that he can’t even stop to enjoy the presence of his friends and girlfriend on his birthday. Although this may seem a bit extreme or exaggerated for some, ask yourself, is it really? The next time you are at a restaurant, look around and compare how many people are focused on their phones with how many are engaging in conversation. You will be surprised by the outcome. “Lonely Planet” exemplifies this problem with the current generation in the age of technology.

Another riveting film that communicated the epitome of our generation’s experience was “The Man of Squares”, a film from the Philippines. In this surrealist film, we watch the story of a man so dictated by money and power, that he removes himself from reality. Presented in a dramatic and abstract style, the audience walked away with a clear sense of how money, technology and power have come to dominate life in this generation to the point that people forget about what’s really important in life. The director shows how a man becomes so caught up in his work that he no longer has time to make memories with his wife, daughter, and even with his father who dies while the man continues his obsessive lifestyle. The film concludes with the man breaking free and acknowledging what matters to him most, which is something that everyone needs to realize. The surreal style of this film left audience members pondering what really is important in their lives.  It’s not about the money we make or the power we have, it’s about the memories and people we surround ourselves with that leads us to a fulfilling life.

The 3rd film that captured so much of what this generation is about, was titled, “Yes, I’m Gary” directed by an American student Christian Manzi, who completed the film when he was only in high school. Through dramatized acting and superb cinematography, his film tells the story of a teenager having a typical “bad day”, an experience that everyone can understand.  Ultimately, the ending is what struck a chord in all audience members.  The realization of the main character in the film, as well as everyone watching the film, was simple- everything is going to be okay. In this generation particularly, from children to adults, everyone is held to such a high standard that sometimes, especially on “bad days”, that standard can seem unattainable. However the end of the film was almost like a sigh of relief saying, even if everything goes wrong, we have people who will unconditionally love and support us no matter what. This realization is sometimes so buried that we start to feel lost, but it’s time that we all step back and realize everything will be okay.

All of the films screened this weekend were phenomenal opportunities to experience the human condition through the eyes of young directors from around the world.  No matter what language they were in or what country they were from, all the films exposed universal reflections on the human condition.   The Manhattan International Film Festival served as a place to bring a whole world together in one room, to celebrate the accomplishments, talent, and reflections of young directors.  Films are the ideal way to show the future how a particular generation lived- its morals, standards and ideals.  These films sure did define our generation.

By Meghan Dare

February 22nd – 24th, 2013, the World Youth Alliance presented the 2nd Annual Manhattan International Film Festival.  Receiving submissions from young directors around the world, 15 finalists were selected to participate in the festival’s events, which included screenings and lectures by renowned independent film director Jamil Dehlavi, and School of Visual Arts professor Salvatore Petrosino.  At the festival, each of the young finalists also had the opportunity to screen their films and speak about their work. 

Meghan Dare, a World Youth Alliance member and a high school volunteer at the Manhattan International Film Festival, had an opportunity to watch all 15 of the films by young directors.  In the piece above, she shares her reflections on select films, and the Manhattan International Film Festival as a whole. 


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