Nicolas Fong’s YIN takes its name from the symbol of yin and yang, but it’s hardly a straightforward depiction of Chinese philosophy. Instead, Fong pulls from a wide range of sources. The story is a loose re-telling of the Myth of Aristophanes, with a frustrated, jealous god splitting his happily hermaphroditic creation into a lonely man and woman. The landscape, meanwhile, is straight out of MC Escher, with a bit of Monument Valley thrown in for good measure. As much as the jealous god is the film’s villain, it’s geometry and perspective that really keep the protagonists apart—in increasingly inventive ways.
YIN is much more than the sum of its creative influences, though. Fong has a mastery of pacing, knowing just when to bring his couple together and when to pull them back apart. As the journey escalates and the score builds to a crescendo, it’s impossible not to get wrapped up in the drama—especially if you have the luck to see it in a theatre. There’s a reason it walked away from our 2017 GIRAF festival with the Audience Favourite award and some of the highest ratings we’ve ever seen for a short at the fest—it’s not often you see a narrative short that’s this visually inventive and dramatically compelling all at once.
(Also, for what it’s worth, a story about how indulging in loneliness, resentment and cruelty only leads to more of the same is always welcome these days in our book.)
Dir: Nicolas Fong, 2017
Syn: Surrounded by several couples, a god becomes bored, because he is on his own and jealous of the others’ happiness. He breathes out, creating a single mountain. He installs Yin and Yang, the man and the woman. The two of them try in vain to meet. The jealous god is pleased with his cruel entertainment.