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Cross-media project Heis explores millennial angst

AFI FEST 2015 Presented By Audi - Closing Night Gala Premiere Of Paramount Pictures' 'The Big Short' Photograph: (Getty)

AFP Los Angeles, USA Jun 10, 2016, 05.35 AM (IST)
Millennials are often labelled the "Peter Pan" generation, the kids who refuse to grow up.

It's a theme gaining attention at the Los Angeles Film Festival this week, with the world premiere of "Heis," a cross-media project by French director Anais Volpe.

Using innovative filmmaking techniques "Heis" follows a 25-year-old artist, Pia, who returns home to live with her mother "because she lost everything all at once," said Volpe, who picked up the World Fiction Award for the movie on the festival's final day Thursday.

"Life often hits you like that -- you lose a lover, the friends you had in common, maybe also your job -- and somehow you have to find your inner balance again."

The project is simultaneously a feature film, a series of shorts and an art exhibition dissecting the ups and downs that millennials, born in the 1980s and 1990s, face as casualties of a stagnant economy and social uncertainty.

Called "the festival's strangest, most inventive-sounding offering" by the magazine LA Weekly, the film was selected by the festival, which runs through Thursday, among 5,000 applicants.

Alternating between funny, dreamlike and emotionally charged, "Heis" -- meaning one, or unity, in Greek -- is a rapid assembly of shorts that collide recent footage with old home video excerpts, voiceovers, and television news excerpts.

- DIY approach -

Volpe sees cross-media projects like hers as a way of opening up film writing to new voices.

"'Heis' is about that too -- the YouTube generation. We can access images and information rapidly and in abundance; we are always over-stimulated," she said.

The project initially took the form of five 11-minute long videos.

"Ultimately, I almost had a feature film," Volpe said. After rewriting the project and shooting new scenes, she decided the mini-series complimented the film.

Photos, objects from the shoot and a collection of videos and clips also form an exhibition that has traveled in France and England.

The young director shot the film in France, China and the US with a "micro-budget," which Volpe said symbolizes how many in the millennial generation manage to get by.

When she started the project, she shot iPhone video clips that she occasionally posted online, recording voiceovers at home with a small microphone.

"I could have asked for help from production houses, but I found it more interesting to take the DIY approach because the film speaks to the struggles of young people," Volpe said
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