One day I’ll fly away: Solid Grounds

Ca’Foscari Short Film Festival
International Competition 2020

Courtesy of Ca’ Foscari Short Film Festival

It’s probably the wish of many a bored teenager that there would be someone who would swoop down and take them away to a more exciting life. For Émile, the young protagonist at the centre of Ivän James Hayward’s Solid Grounds (Terre Ferme), this fantasy becomes tangible as a chance encounter shifts the direction of his life.

Working on his father’s farm in the 1950s, Émile knows that he’ll be expected to take over whether he wants to or not.  Life is one of quiet and lonely drudgery:  chopping wood, tending animals and returning to the farmhouse where Émile’s pregnant mother will feed the men of the family before the whole cycle will repeat again. 

But this cycle is broken when a malfunctioning plane crash lands into the family’s plot of land and a handsome young pilot is taken into the bosom of the family while he repairs his plane. With the promise of a world beyond the place he has known all his life, Émile is soon faced with a difficult choice. Will it be a choice that his father can accept?

Aside from a scant few lines, Hayward eschews dialogue relying on the visuals to let us know about the family dynamics. Émile breaks twigs as his father chops huge logs, a symbol of the gulf between the two as well as the future that bodes for Émile. His surroundings are bucolic, serene. But there’s a dullness, a sense of the staid.  When the plane arrives into proceedings, it is bright yellow, belching smoke, an almost literal bolt from the blue.

Indeed, much of the film seems to correspond to Émile’s point-of-view. Everything has a childlike sensibility to the slight air of unreality to the tinge of melodrama that runs throughout the film. Indeed, it would be perfect for a younger audience – though a moment depicting animal slaughter may prove a little too much for said audience.

The cast are also very good with Noé Chéron providing a particularly promising central performance, managing to display both defiance and naivety without recourse to dialogue.

While the beats of Solid Grounds may prove to be a little too broad for adult audiences, it’s a solid piece of work. Screening in the international competition at 10th Ca’ Foscari Short Film Festival, it marks out Hayward as a talent to keep an eye on.

Country: France
Original Title: Terre Ferme
Language: French
Year: 2019
Run time: 17 mins
Director: Ivän James Hayward
Cast: Noé Chéron, Christophe Hamon, Florian Mery, Valérie Nataf   
Screenplay: Caroline Bougit, Théo Fauger, Ivän James Hayward, Asia Raffenel
DOP: Théo Fauger
Editor: Ella Dixon
Music: Jacques Raffin
Film School: CinéCréatis Écoles Créatives Nantes