SOCIAL SKILLS

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by Henry Hills

grade: 7

In Social Skills we witness also a lively protest. A living, pulsating protest against a conformist world in which rules no longer consider human beings themselves and their well-being. A world in which human beings often move like puppets. Not one, but many arts take on multiple meanings and, all together, become one: cinema. At the Viennale 2021.

All together!

Society. The behaviour we adopt to conform to it or to rebel against it. Dance as instrument of protest and search for one’s own identity. In the short film Social Skills – premiered at the Viennale 2021 – filmmaker Henry Hills has staged social dynamics, behaviours and attitudes through an enthralling collective dance. A dynamic, frenetic, composed and at the same time wonderfully free and wild dance.

The shooting of Social Skills took place in Belgium, during a workshop held by choreographer David Zambrano. Many, many dancers of all ages have thus given life to a colourful choreography which, taken as a whole, represents the image of today’s society. Frenetic rhythms, a montage that leaves the viewer no time to catch his breath between one shot and the next and, last but not least, the music by Zeena Parkins thus become, like the dancers, powerful protagonists.

Social Skills is a free, cheerful but also, in some respects, highly critical film. Society wants us in a certain way. Sometimes we do what others expect of us, other times we decide to move in the opposite direction. A continuous movement that the dances in Social Skills were able to fully render thanks also to a skilful use of sound. The screen goes black. Then, suddenly, an iris opens up. Many elliptical irises follow the dancers in their movements. The camera moves equally frantically. Perfect images of a world in which people run faster and faster and in which there seems to be no more time to relax. But that is not all.

In Social Skills we also witness, at the same time, an animated protest. A living, pulsating protest against a conformist world in which rules no longer take into account human beings themselves and their well-being. A world in which human beings often move like puppets. Not one, but many arts, therefore, take on multiple meanings and, all together, become one: cinema.

Henry Hills made use of all these elements to create a short but remarkable work, made even more precious by the collaboration of artists from all over the world. Social Skills – just as the title would suggest, then – can almost be described as a collective work. An ensemble short film in which everyone is fundamental, everyone stands for something extremely necessary. The director simply filmed a magical event that was happening in front of his camera, skilfully combined images and sound and made the whole thing take on universal connotations. The world, life flows before our eyes. And inside a darkened theatre this seems to us more fascinating than ever.

Original title: Social Skills
Directed by: Henry Hills
Country/year: Austria, Belgium / 2021
Running time: 12’
Genre: experimental, musical
Screenplay: Henry Hills
Cinematography: Henry Hills
Produced by: Henry Hills

Info: the page of Social Skills on the website of the Viennale; the page of Social Skills on the website of the sixpackfilm; the page of Social Skills on the website of Henry Hills