Rooftops Of My City
‘Where are you from?’ For some, this is a simple question which warrants a clear-cut answer. For others, it might be a bit more complicated. Do you offer a 33% split if your mother came from one country, your father came from another, and you grew up in a third one? Does one prevail, even if marginally? Which one? ‘Rooftops Of My City’ juggles with topics alluding to a sense of belonging, emotional connections to places that might not be as easy as national or regional borders might initially suggest and shows an interconnected nature of everything in an increasingly globalized world.
In a way, Maya Jasmin’s short film reminded us of the structure of the dialogue-centered 'Before' trilogy of Richard Linklater. Just as in the first part of the aforementioned trilogy, a young man and a young woman meet by accident and engage in a conversation that skips over small talk and delves into complex and multifaceted discussions about worldviews, thoughts, personal associations between places and memories, and similar topics. We were very surprised at how wonderfully the chemistry between the two characters progressively emerged, and how free-flowing and meaningful the conversations ended up being. We identified no filler content or false notes anywhere – everything felt meaningful and contributed to an ensemble view that intermixed similarities with differences in a common, universally-themed language.
Differences in experiences, ways of growing up and of making and establishing connections with places, childhood memories, and personal aspirations intelligently blend with linguistic differential points or diverging methods of expression. However, no boundaries are set, and this works very much to the film’s advantage. The slight nuances in Oliver’s Swiss dialect and Lena’s Ulm-region speech make for some hilarious, quality humor moments, and these feel even more meaningful considering the former’s complicated resonance with Switzerland as a whole, and the latter’s ever-changing conceptualization of herself relative to national concepts. Rather than presenting people as the product of man-made boundaries, writer, and director Maya Jasmin builds her case study in terms of associations between places, memories and of globally accumulated experiences. This works extraordinarily well, and with the added advantage of not feeling pushy or one-directional.
The final result is a wonderful film that should resonate with anyone and everyone in some way or another. The acting is top notch and extremely natural, the background acts as a constant reminder of a great unknown that’s far away from home but exciting and full of opportunity in equal measures, and the dialogues push forward a wonderful mix of simplicity and complexity.
‘Rooftops Of My City’ is proof that you do not need elaborately-crafted dramatic moments or tons of explanatory dialogue in order to craft a meaningful and memorable experience. Maya Jasmin’s film deeply impressed us – it is no doubt one of our best entries in a while.