A film of discovery, Katherine Propper’s Birds is a lovely look at a time when summer could feel like a never-ending dream. A wonderful exploration into connection with friends, love, nature and everything in between. You can’t but adore this film.
Moments in the lives of Austin teenagers during the heat of Texas summer.
A short synopsis for this one, but it perfectly sums up Katherine Propper’s fourth short film, Birds. For 13 minutes, we wander around the City of Austin, getting little snippets of their lives during the summer. Very little is going on, yet at the same time, so much is going on. For example, for some guys are riding their bikes on a man-made track in a park when they suddenly stop to see something unexpected. It is not a life-changing moment, but what they do shows us the people that they are, the same with two friends by a pool who are talking about a guy one of them likes. They are nattering away with little dramatic moments to speak of, but when a resolution comes at the end of the sequence, it is wholly rewarding.
Katherine Propper has made a film in Birds that is a smart blend of observational documentary and a loose fiction film. All of these moments are as relatable as they are likely to happen, yet by somehow giving us so little, we are gaining so much from these teenagers. With a young cast, it feels as if they are drawing from their own experiences, and as much as they are acting, they are more likely recreating. Which, in truth, is lovely; they have remembered these moments and are getting the chance to recapture them again. To find out your friends care about you and will help and not leave you to the side, to find an unexpected moment with a friend and cherish it, like a picture in your mind that you will never erase.
By being so loose with her filmmaking, we get the chance to find something that works with us singularly as an audience members. As said, we connect with ease with Propper’s film, you may connect with one moment or multiple, and that is the point. We live such open lives that we should be pushing them wider to see what is out there, what we can experience as a person. Nothing needs to be a closed book. Instead, like these characters’ lives, everything is open-ended. When you are that age, there is magic to life, what you do in it forms you, and if you let it, they may never end.
These dreamy vignettes bring us back to a time we would love to relive, days when we never wanted summer to end before going back to school or venturing off to college or university. Where we were wide-eyed and keen to experience something, anything, with our friends. To capture all of that in such an easy and short manner is fabulous, and you really can’t help but fall in love with the film because of it.
If you are not in the UK and unable to go to the BFI website, you can view Birds here:
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