Dayfly

***1/2

Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Dayfly
"Yi Baoxingchen's film is as mixed media as a single thing like film can be, and all the stronger for it."

A dayfly, a mayfly. It's midnight (0:00), about to be born. A clock of chalk on a drying black surface, a tree of boxes. Strands of something that might be DNA, a splash of colour in sunflower and ladybird. Animated, what might be watercolour, a variety of means and mechanisms to convey motion and sense. A wraith of water carves a path different than the dissimilarly shining spirits of The Abyss and Donnie Darko. No less moody, despite an innocence earned from technique. There are moments that appear naive in tone but that disarms, hides behind it something affecting.

The screen splits, noon. Meditations on death and what we leave behind. A map in a drawer, a menagerie of microfauna. Serenaded by the surreal, a student's attempts at categorisation. Through it all a sense of nostalgia, the clarion call of sunsets and spokes, in the varieties of monochromes flashes and blurs of colour. Suggestions and suspicions, all the more moving for the moments of stillness.

The sweep of the clock is constant, but its jumps are not. Time passes by the hour, half or half a dozen. Togetherness in all its forms, kiss, cuddle, cellular, stock footage, processed film and beached whale. The swell of strings beneath the sound of frying, the rattle of traffic, the crackle of fire, the Mondrian maze of modern municipalities.

A rotoscoped train makes its way, windows as slides in some further collection of ephemera. Roots of many colours push inkily from on high, within the pupil a skull, within that skull an eye. Yi Baoxingchen's film is as mixed media as a single thing like film can be, and all the stronger for it. Even the credits, where a filmstrip bears a succession of drawn faces, plays with the boundaries of it, the last fragmented frames returning to the thematic presence of that dayfly. Short at its best uses every second that it gets to one intent, and Dayfly's meditation on the beauty of the ephemeral does just that.

Reviewed on: 08 Oct 2021
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Life is a ray of sunshine that breaks through darkness. In the vast universe, the life of human beings and of all the things in the world comes to an end, a short and wonderful experience which is at the same time evanescent, just like a dayfly.

Director: Yi Baoxingchen

Year: 2021

Runtime: 14 minutes

Country: China

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