Fujiyama is the much-anticipated short-length film by Brandy Seymour. It takes place in a futuristic society, and it follows two female detectives who are on a task to bust an illicit speakeasy.
The first thing to notice is the black and white cinematography, fascinatingly shot by Matt Maynard, in which every picture/shot tells a story. Black and white combined with monochromatic lights is inevitably the signature of science fiction films. Still, Fujiyama takes this approach to another level because of the implementation of film language and visual grammar. Therefore, the film opens with two camera movements intended to showcase the protagonists’ trajectory, hence the moment they enter the bar the camera becomes static. Now, the focus is on medium close-ups in order to penetrate the characters’ personal spaces and tackle the essence of the unsettling atmosphere.
Sound is an integral component of the picture, as it supports it substantially. The correlation of information sent through sound and images enhances the underlying themes of Fujiyama, giving it complexity within the subtext. Allowing dominant colors to enter the picture is a creative, and nonetheless, the right decision. Fujiyama essentially revives the Orwellian nightmare, and what a better approach than to blend the submissive color palette, which again wouldn't be obtrusive because the film needs it, but because it gives the cinematography a realistic component.
Having said that, it’s evident that Fujiyama is a result of collaborative work, where every crew member and author is on their highest. Seymour successfully directs the cast ensemble. The performances from Alyssa Ryan and Sandy Ma are outstanding; they exploit the various traits crafted for the characters. In addition, the participants of the speakeasy are in constant movement, whether it's a verbal expression or body language, regardless of if they are in the spotlight or as a part of the background. Their conversations are like a game of chess – the one seeking help is visibly expressive, while the listener is calm, pragmatic and anticipates the threat.
The film ends climactically. The twist happens when least expected, breaking the invisible barrier between the protagonists and antagonists. Thus, an active audience is required, especially in the final act where the scene becomes massive, and the mise-en-scène makes it ever so dynamic. The recognizable camera movements conclude the narrative as they started it – with a juxtaposition. As Billy Wilder would say – the third act must build and build in tempo and action until the last event, which would be followed by an effective conclusion.
Fujiyama does precisely that - it’s pure artisanship that leaves us thirsty for more. This short film could naturally be the introduction for a feature or series, as the world-building here is rich with body material, and the filmmakers' artistic vision is unparalleled.