Dir. Grzegorz Cisiecki
(2007, Not Rated, 7 min)

The plot synopsis for Smoke (Dym), describes it simply as, “The story of the person who became the captive of surrealistic madness.” If that doesn’t seem to say much, well, neither does the film. Written, directed, and edited by 25-year-old Belarusian filmmaker Grzegorz Cisiecki, it proceeds as a collection of images united only by that vague premise: “surrealistic madness.” It contains elements reminiscent of David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive and Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, but the elements don’t connect. They don’t build from one to the next. It’s a montage of unclear import.

Yet it is also evidence of a filmmaker with a talent for generating atmosphere. With cinematography by Dawid Rymar, music by Aleksandr Porach and Rashid Brocca, and eerie sound design, Cisiecki pulls us through an intriguing dreamscape that, while less than the some of its parts, is intriguing from moment to moment, and at seven minutes its swirling reverie is never clear, but it also avoids becoming tiresome or overly indulgent. Give me this over three hours of Inland Empire any day.

Thoroughness requires me to try to give some sense of what the film is about, to the extent that that’s possible. It opens with a young man in a small room looking out a window into nothing but smoke. He presses play on a tape recorder and is transported into a car with a strange man, and then into an orgiastic party. There’s a recurring image of a woman, who appears in the young man’s fantasies (or memories?) and also in the room with him. There’s a sense of longing in the images of her, and the film seems to be suggesting lost love, but perhaps I’m simply projecting meaning onto the nebulous collection of faces, places, and events. Cisiecki seems more interested in style than content; if he merges his creative instincts with a cohesive script, he might be a force to be reckoned with.

You can watch the entire film below: