Filmmaker Aki Red, 21, delves on the inevitable slow death of personal connections in the pandemic-stricken and technology-driven contemporary society through his award-winning short film Signal Notice.
Shot at the onset of the lockdown, the three-minute short exhibits a series of visual compositions that capture and evoke the feeling of isolation and loneliness brought by the pandemic. Motivated by stories about senior COVID-19 patients who lived alone and passed away in isolation, Red highlights the importance of human connection through the daily struggles of an elderly man who spends his last remaining days attempting to reconnect with loved ones.
“The idea of dying alone without knowing how to reach out to the highly modernized outside world broke me,” he expressed. “I believe it is important to let the world know about these people who are left behind.”
Through Signal Notice, Red hopes to remind the viewers, especially the younger generation, how personal relationships are taken for granted because of technology.
“Technology takes away the genuine emotions, ideas, and words which should remain as essential groundworks for personal human connections,” he explained. “We are social beings and taking away authenticity in our interactions breaks the purpose of our inter-relational nature – to communicate, to understand, to empathize, and to connect.”
A Digital Filmmaking student from De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde School of Design and Arts, Red admitted he created Signal Notice as a personal project to cope amid the early days of the lockdown.
“The emphasized presence of absence in the film is a manifestation of the consequential grief that seeps through the repetitive days,” he explained. “The film acts like a plea, a collective cry for help for the people who struggle to reconnect.”
The auteur’s expertise in audio to solidify the final emotion of regret in the film earned the Best Sound Design Award at the 8th Nabunturan Independent Film Exhibition (NABIFILMEX) in Davao de Oro.
“In these abandoned places wherein a lonely person craving for personal connection used to live, the sounds that the audiences hear act as remnants of that longing feeling, serving as a reminder of what was already lost and could never be taken back,” he expounded.
Red is the filmmaker behind Lilipad na si Birdie, which bagged the Best Film Award at the 2019 Manila Student Film Festival 19-21 age category hosted by the International School Manila. The same entry was Second Runner-Up at the 2019 Realifilm Interschool Competition organized by Adamson University’s Silip@Lente.
His experimental drama film Aplikante likewise finished as first runner-up in the 2021 UP Broadcasting Association: A Projected Vision (APV) Film Festival. His works Spacebound, Rising Star, Page Money, and Kung Alam Ko Lang na Walang Katapusan ang Katapusan have likewise been a part of various film festivals.