LIFF Shorts: Leeds Music Video Competition

The best music videos have always been something more than just a visual accompaniment to the main attraction. While the majority may appear more akin to an advertisement than a piece of cinema, with creativity stretched no further than deciding which designer wear to dress their star in, the best are able to overcome the medium’s shortcomings and exploit its strengths in a way that creates something bigger and better than either the visuals or audio could achieve alone.

The video for Dansingas by Lithuanian electronic band Solo Ansamblis, directed by Titas Sūdžius, is a stunning example of how a music video can be a piece of cinematic art in its own right. At seven minutes, it is the longest of the videos in the Leeds Music Video Competition, and its dramatic, eccentric style fits the unconventional sound of the music throughout. The use of black and white, alongside the almost timeless European streets where most of the action takes place, gives the film’s visuals a look reminiscent of classic cinema, which contrasts effectively with the more surreal elements – a levitating birthday cake, a viscous black liquid sliding down the glass front of a building.

Sūdžius mixes elements of dystopian sci-fi and classic horror to create striking visuals with an air of familiarity in their strangeness; the masked man in a black cloak riding through the town on horseback recalls every horror tale of a community stalked by a dangerous outsider, the uncanny creepiness of the human-face mask recalling many a horror movie villain. Is he the devil? The narrative side of the film remains ambiguous, leaving the viewer to piece together their own meaning from the expressive images given to them – but a shot of a runner winning a race, the number 666 pinned to his chest, certainly hints that such a devilish interpretation may not be far off the mark.

Leeds Music Video Competition can be viewed on Leeds Film Player until 30th November 2020.