Silent Sirens, written, directed, and narrated by Neil Sandhoefner, is simple in its presentation. The short film is not animated exactly; rather, the story is told in a series of still black and white drawings. Each one comes and goes as the new scene begins. Heavy lines against the white backdrop make the pictures pop.
Sandhoefner’s ode to what connects people, places, and things begins with a myth. Specifically, the tale told is that of Odysseus and his encounter with the sirens. Then the filmmaker recounts his first time traveling out of the country. He’s off to London to visit a friend and that person’s girlfriend. They make a whole day out of sightseeing, trekking ever closer to a new painting by the girlfriend’s favorite artist (or at least it’s being newly displayed). During the trip, myths, modern and ancient, come into play as Sandhoefner tries to make sense of why certain people are compelled to witness or experience this or that event or piece of art.
“…trekking ever closer to a new painting by the girlfriend’s favorite artist…”
And that last sentence makes the 13 and a half minutes of Silent Sirens enrapturing. Admittedly, it is not easy to figure out where the narrative is going at first, which might throw off potential viewers. But stick it out, as what the director has to say about being human, the nature of the stories we tell each other, and how we relate to art and other people is profound.
Silent Sirens simply its story through monochromatic images. But the strong narration from Sandhoefner and the ending ensures a viewing experience that is felt down to the bone. Humanity and art are inextricably, and the director shows why that matters.
"…humanity and art are inextricably, and the director shows why that matters."