The Year of the Everlasting Storm is a pandemic-produced cinema passion project built by seven filmmakers that feels a bit futile as it doesn’t have much to say about our current situation.
As Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s short says “this is the year of the everlasting storm”, and it is indeed everlasting and the emotional drainage that it has caused feels as if a storm has been wreaking havoc in your mind, body, and soul. The first year felt like two and now, in 2021, things are starting to open up again (at least where I live), but there are still the same precautions to take into notice.
To cope with these tough times, a couple of filmmakers joined together to create a love letter to filmmaking and storytelling through a joint project, as they tell different stories from their perspectives of such an unprecedented moment in time. The first short was made by Jafar Panahi, the director of Taxi (2015) and 3 Faces (2018), and it is shot through a phone camera, focusing on the aspect of family and reunions after long periods of time. This is the most interesting film because it begins as a wholesome reunion between a mother and a father and then takes a dark turn as she begins to talk about death, saying that “the virus might kill her”.
Then comes Anthony Yen’s. It is thematically straightforward, dealing with a slowly decaying relationship mainly caused by that claustrophobic feeling of not being able to go or do anything outside. We have seen many films like this one before, but it packs a bit of a punch and doesn’t get too melodramatic. The third one comes from Malik Vitthal, which is in my opinion the second best of the bunch. Although shorter than most of the other ones and shot through face-time calls, it is thematically stronger and more creative, using animation that is very impactful. The rest of the stories, four through seven, are the ones that take on a different tone and feel a bit lackluster or uninteresting.
Poitras uses a documentary style to tackle an investigation of surveillance privacy and targeted digital violence. Dominga Sotomayor delivers a mother-daughter story about how to connect with a lost environment. David Lowery tells us a story of a woman in solitary who copes with her loneliness by reading missing letters. Apichatpong Weerasethakul says a lot while being minimalistic as he shoots colonies of moths and other bugs as they separate from each other while the main “predator”, the praying mantis, eats some of the colonies’ members. The last one may not seem like much describing it out loud and it is shot by letting the camera roll on different lights, but it expresses how these colonies of bugs and us humans are quite a lot in isolation, the problem is that it overstays its welcome.
The Year of the Everlasting Storm takes seven states of mind and routes to tackle a different approach to the pandemic, all attached with some form of the director’s style; however, not all of them have something new to say about how life is being lived stuck in your compounds or with the restrains of COVID-19. Of course, there are heartfelt and impactful moments in this collaborative passion project, most of them coming from the first three shorts, about coping with this new reality. Sadly, you wish there was something more memorable along the way.