TIFF15 REVIEW: Peripheria [2015]

Score: 7/10 | ★ ★ ★

Rating: NR | Runtime: 12 minutes | Release Date: 2015 (France)
Studio: Autour de Minuit / ​Schumby Productions
Director(s): David Coquard-Dassault
Writer(s): David Coquard-Dassault & Patricia Valeix

A post-apocalyptic wasteland born from an abandoned council estate of mammoth cement structures covered in graffiti and devoid of life—human life— David Coquard-Dassault‘s Peripheria showcases an aftermath of the unusable imprint we’ve made on Earth. Without our species to use these homes for dwelling or canvases, they merely stand reflecting the sun as large shadow makers for the creatures still roaming below. The dogs are what’s left, feral and awake. They rule the land with teeth bared, claiming property and possession as the owners cooped up in 10,000-plus habitats piled on top of one another used to as well. But instead of the buildings’ doors and windows providing shelter and safety, they’ve become methods of imprisonment and death sentences since the current tenants are without the means to escape.

The animation on display is a memorable aesthetic of roughly textured colors forming familiar shapes, each shimmering along with the passage of frames moving forward. Only the black dogs cutting silhouettes against the graying façades and some plastic bags floating in the wind move to prove it isn’t static photographs progressing through a slideshow by moving film documenting time. The homogeneity of the breed and fur color breaks these animals down to their species—something humanity still refuses to do with racism and bigotry alive and well. As we see them snarl and claim stakes, though, it makes you wonder if peace is an impossible ideal no matter differences or similarities pulling us apart or pushing us together. We will always want, destroy, and want more before repeating the cycle until nothing remains.

Coquard-Dassault setting is proof—deserted by mankind or left after murdering itself into oblivion. All we’ve built will remain useless and damning, evidence of our failures. The dogs will soon join us, segmenting themselves into groups locked in high-rises without food or trapped in dry pools to clutch onto what’s left of their identities before starvation claims victory. And just as we think we know their fate is identical to our own, Coquard-Dassault and co-writer Patricia Valeix throw a curveball. Maybe this isn’t a memorial to humanity, but a shrine to a past long since forgotten and ready for rebirth. Maybe it’s a sign of our wastefulness and hubris, to take the Earth, abandon it, and rebuild. Maybe its emptiness shows our self-anointed power to mold nature in our image, burning everything standing against our vision of glory.

Courtesy of TIFF

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