Jeremiah Kipp’s short “Contact” opens with an elderly couple setting a table for three. The third person for whom the meal is being prepared is not present, and the couple look at each other pensively. The film then switches to a younger couple who go to a creepy location where an androgynous figure has set up a table full of what appears to be medication bottles. The young couple are given a bottle and instructed to take its contents together. They retreat to an apartment, where they begin to make love under the influence of the bottle’s contents. While the man appears to be satisfied with what is happening, things don’t quite flow along pure romantic lines for his lover.
The connection between these two very different segments is the clincher of “Contact,” yet its deliberately cryptic ending provides a brilliant Rorschach test to the viewers. Just what is the connection here? What was the substance that was ingested before the young couple’s love making? And was there any permanent damage to the various people who filter through this unsettling, unsolved mystery?
As the young woman whose fate is thrown into question, Zoe Daelman Chlanda presents a striking presence who provides a compelling display of extreme emotions. Her elusive story is framed in a crisp black-and-white with a wonderfully eerie sound mix that keeps the film in a state of jolting agitation. The result is a jolting, intriguing work that is blessed with great style and original substance. This is one of the most satisfying shorts to come around in a long time.