Were you wondering what was happening to the rest of the world during the COVID lockdown? If so, may I present writer/director Pirooz Kalayeh’s 100 Films. The documentary pulls together vlogs and video diaries from other fellow survivors who came out the other end. Essentially it is a video mosaic featuring 27 subjects giving just a brief glimpse of their lives during the year of quarantine.
The participants were given prompts by the filmmaker and proceeded to shoot a series of mini-films, vlog entries, poetry readings, views from a window, and everyday activities in the new normal. The stories overall tend to flow between struggles of isolation and the creative liberation lockdown provided. 100 Films opens with a Los Angeles sound engineer’s vlog entry (with beautifully recorded audio) talking about working at home and then about his hobby of taking photos along the empty L.A. streets at night.
“…a video mosaic featuring 27 subjects giving just a brief glimpse of their lives during the year of quarantine.”
One man is trapped in Singapore for two weeks while quarantining at a hotel. He must stay in his room and each day leaves a bag of trash outside his door for pick up, and three times a day, a knock on the door signals his next meal is outside. Shawna talks about finding acceptance and happiness through isolation and the help of the TikTok content she created. Another woman stopped going to her job in San Francisco and instead took the opportunity to write a novel and produce a podcast.
Kalayeh then takes us on an international tour, stopping in the likes of Brazil, South Korea, Tehran, and Germany. These subjects reminisce about what happened when they first learned of the coronavirus pandemic and how each of their respective countries handled lockdown and the eventual vaccine. In India, they followed Hindu traditions of burning deceased COVID bodies in the open.
100 Films provides a broad overview of lockdown, and the stories tend to be samplings versus substance. Several of them were shot on cellphones in the vertical orientation, but I supposed we’re used to that now, so it doesn’t seem all that out of place. Running at a brisk forty-one minutes, which is the perfect length, Kalayah moves quickly from one film to the next and has the good sense of getting right to the point with each participant.
"…has the good sense of getting right to the point..."