A young woman, a hopeful artist herself, takes an audio tour through a gallery. When she absent-mindedly tips the device toward a docent, the audio guide (Nyx Calder) continues offering explanations, but not about the art. In Chris Elena’s simple yet cleverly moving short “Audio Guide,” he and screenwriter Lee Zachariah question art, life, and free will, while possibly driving their protagonist Audrey Walker (Emma Wright) to the edge. Ah, but the edge of what?
Shot on film to give it a non-descript timeless look, “Audio Guide” provides humor and tragedy in a tight little ball. As the secrets of the universe may be unfolding to her, 19-year-old Audrey journeys through amusement, astonishment, and more than a little terror. Many shots stay centered on Wright in the central role, and though she never speaks, her face is a master class of emotion.
It’s rare that a short at Cinequest gets paired so perfectly with a feature — but “Audio Guide” whets the appetite thematically for Survival Skills. In both, the protagonist struggles to consider their place in this world, though driven by different forces.
At this point, I’m hoping that both films return for Cinequest in August, because the pairing is so perfect, and both films are just so good. Updated information should be available here.