The Guide is an awesome example of something you can make with little to no budget and just an idea. The film doesn't fit in any genre we can think of, but it works in almost every way.
Today’s film is the 2016 Russian micro short film The Guide written and directed by Diana Galimzyanova and starring Rashid Aitouganov and Albane Chateau. It is currently being featured on thebestmicrofilms.com Films of the month.
The Guide focuses on a middle aged woman (Albane Chateau) taking a selfie in front of a graffiti lined building. Her picture is ruined however when a young man (Rashid Aitouganov) “Photobombs” her by mistake when he came out of the underground exit behind her. Startled to find the man in her picture the woman decides to follow the man for some inexplicable reason and he leads her on a short jaunt through the Russian city. After following him for some time the man notices the girl following him and turns to confront her, unabashed the girl tilts her hand toward him and beckons him to follow her. The film ends with the man now following the woman back the way they came.
I wanted to review this film because I knew it would be a challenge for me. The Guide doesn’t fit into any traditional film genre nor does it have a very clear plot or any dialog at all, needless to say it was a strange film to watch. That being said however this little Russian film certainly hooks the viewer into the story and really makes you wonder not only what the woman’s motivation was to follow a stranger but what the outcome would be if the two finally met face to face. I was therefore quite surprised when the film brought the two together and not only didn’t offer any kind of conflict but the strange allure of the woman seemed to convince the man to follow after her with just a crook of her finger. Director Diana Galimzyanova brings the conclusion of the film to a peaceful and playful end that almost certainly would never have happened in real life and yet you can really believe the story and feel that something is just right with the world in this playful little romp through a slightly urban area.
The actors in the film are two who have been featured in Diana Galimzyanova’s works before on several occasions and seem to be rising stars in the Russian film industry. While neither character has any dialog in the film they manage to convey a sense of presence in the film with the keen body language and expressive faces. This is perhaps one of the hardest types of acting to do these days what with films being not just a visual media but a audio one as well. Back before voices could be recorded onto movies actors had to be able to really sell their actions on screen with exaggerated facial expressions and strong body language and both Rashid Aitouganov and Albane Chateau manage to do this in a completely natural way. Though you never get their names or what it is they do you can’t help but feel interested in these two characters and it really keeps your attention on the film that many longer movies fail to entice from the viewer. This speaks volumes to the on screen presence they bring and the interesting writing from the director.
The biggest selling point of The Guide is it’s wonderful production value. Normally in this short of a film you’d expect it to be shot on a cellphone and have all manner of visual artifacts and poor focus, this isn’t the case for The Guide. The Cinematography is very well handled and was a pleasure to watch. The picture quality is absolutely perfectly clear at all times and never suffers from the shaky cam effect which to me really ruins any movie it is in be it independent or mainstream. Each scene is carefully aligned so that the action is always in the center of the screen even when the characters are at the very edges of the picture. This conveys the distance between the characters wonderfully and each shot gets closer together as the characters come together and is really professionally handled.
The audio work of The Guide is also quite well done but like in several films I must give you a warning. If you are wearing headphones the pounding techno musical score will rupture your ear drums if you are not careful. Throughout the entire film the music plays and grows more intense the closer the characters get to one another. This music is even used to simulate dialog between the characters after a fashion in a very unusual way that really reminded me of how the adults spoke in the old Peanut’s cartoon, weather this was intended or not I am not sure but the effect was welcome.
When all is said and done The Guide was a very strange little micro film that doesn’t quite have a genre to categorize it into. That said however it is still entertaining for what it offered the viewer and it is clear that upcoming Russian director Diana Galimzyanova has some real skill for not only film making but coming up with compelling stories. I personally think the film is a essay on how you can get started in the film industry with just a bare bones budget, The Guide was shot on 30 RUR which is a mere pittance of a budget and still came off with something that was visually appealing. If you are interested in this film and other films of the Micro short verity then I recommend visiting thebestmicrofilms.com and see all of the very interesting films there that are all less then five minutes long.