I was covering Globe Independent Film Festival’s (.GIFF) Festival of New Cinema when I first saw The Man Who Isn’t There and Other Stories of Longing by Trishtan Perez. The 10-minute short is a series of non-sequiturs and micro-narratives on self-identity and human relationships, all contained within the cramped, sky blue space of a photo booth.
In these brief glimpses of its characters — some appear only once, others many times — the film becomes an earnest and moving show of their quirks, their vulnerabilities, their comfort zones and their ups and downs. Each has their own purpose. They’ve come with family, or with friends, or with someone special, or they’ve come alone. It proves that there’s a lot to be said in body language and how feelings are a language in and of themselves. And it’s not hard to relate to the awkwardness of when you’re fumbling toward a personal connection, or the rightness of when you’ve finally made contact and built something together.
The Man Who Isn’t There and Other Stories of Longing ended up taking home the award for Experimental Best Work at the Festival of New Cinema. Over email, Trishtan — who studied at the UP Film Institute — discussed how the concept of the short film came about, the process that went into its production, and how young filmmakers can tell new stories and keep the local industry alive.
Young STAR: What drew you to filmmaking and storytelling and how has your journey been?
Trishtan Perez: I’ve always loved watching films since I was young and the lingering feeling that I have long after the credits roll has always been my favorite feeling in the world. The more unsettled or stunned I get, the better I consider the film watching experience. It is in this state that I get to think deeper about my life and about humanity in general. It is the realization that I could give other people that same effect through looking at myself deeper that really motivated me to pursue filmmaking and storytelling. It doesn’t even have to be life changing. The possibility that a simple idea in my head could reveal deep truths about ourselves already makes a project worth doing. The journey hasn’t been easy though. I’ve made films that ended up saying nothing at all. I still have a lot to learn when it comes to my film language so that I could drive my points across more clearly.