A true slice-of-life film, Fence follows Genti, a young boy stuck roaming in an out of the chaotic house where his extended family is simultaneously celebrating and bickering amongst themselves. It’s already won the Best Short under 15 minutes at Palm Springs (and been featured at several other major festivals), and from the opening minutes, you immediately see why. To capture the tension and the exhaustion of a boy trapped in an oppressive adult’s world, Zeqiraj and cinematographer Sebastien Goepfert go for a hand-held one take shot that comprises the entire film’s running time.
Not only is it an extraordinarily executed piece of art (this camera covers a lot of ground), but it’s also the right move for the story. The film’s geography literally goes back and forth between the house and the neighborhood on the other side of the fence, echoing Genti’s own ambivalent feelings. This award-winning short is a master class in using visuals to communicate the character’s journey, with the film’s ultimate climax depending on what direction our protagonist chooses. This just scratches the surface, however. There’s the perfectly dreary color palette, the sociological themes running beneath the family drama and other little moments that are best revisited on subsequent viewings. One of the strongest showings by an ensemble cast for a short we’ve seen all year.