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Random acts

Get lost in these frank stories of love and loss

All That Is is a soul-baring short film that explores timeless love and responsibility across generations and five intimate stories, the second of C4’s Random Acts

Emotional conflict is something we all face at some stage in our lives. It might be as a spurned teenage sweetheart, or an old flame turning up when you moved on years before: standing at an intimate intersection between feelings of love, lust, anger, domesticity, pain, empathy. Which path leads to fulfilment and love, and which to ruination, loss or indifference?

All That Is, a film by Camille Summers-Valli and Wessie Du Toit, will provide an emotionally intelligent insight into the power of love, the temporality of life and the psychological effects of lust and long-term relationships. It will be the second episode of the six-part weekly Random Acts series premiered exclusively on Dazed. The first was the pastel-hued short The Honeymoon, a campy amalgamation of all things Wes Anderson and Alfred Hitchcock. Now in its second year of partnership with Dazed with Stop Play Recordthe series continues with a film embedded in sweet nostagia, combining both image and photography to construct true stories of love and loss.

Chronciling candid confessions from five individuals, the film examines us as products of our environments, how our domestic life and social framework can play a central role in relationships and all we know about understanding ourselves and the love we desire, a lengthy, sometimes painful process.

“The inspiration behind the film came from some conversations that Camille and I were having about emotional conflict,” says Du Toit. “Both of us had family members who had in some sense faced a choice between their work/passion and their family/relationships. We decided this was something worth exploring. Also, a friend of mine was going through a rough break-up at the time, and after a few pretty frank conversations with him I started thinking about how rare it was to hear someone really bare their soul on the subject of love and relationships – with all the disillusionment and remorse that usually entails.”

“Camille and I were interested in probing the difference between people’s expectations of love, and whatever the reality turned out to be. Then we basically set out to find people who were willing to talk honestly about all of these things, and who had something interesting to say. We were surprised to find quite a few people who wanted to take part.”

The series will continue showcasing an international selection of experimental work from both established artists and up-and-coming talent. Goldie makes his directorial debut with Mountains, David Oyelowo (Selma) reinterprets Shakespeare in Isle Full of Noises, Sarina Nihei chronciles animals battling in a world of deadpan violence in Rabbit’s Blood and Patrick Decile (Moonlight) stars in a Miami project that tells the tale of gold grills and dentist’s drills. The shorts are an exploration of life, illustrated through the mediums of music, animation, dance, visual art and spoken word.

With an indept, considered form of visual language playing throughout the film, Summers Valli tells Dazed: "It was about developing a personal style and a unique visual language for the film. I love interrupting and playing with the pace of edits and this was a way of doing that."

"We also like taking photographs. It’s nice to have something to do with them," du Toit says.

At its heart, the film is deeply personal, and seeing individuals unpack their own hearts opens up a very immediate, deep connection. "It had to do with exploring my own ideas of love and responsibility," says Summers Valli. "The project came to life when I was falling in love and questioning how to approach it and behave. Making a film about it was an excuse to learn about ideas and approaches to love."

It's much the same for du Toit, who adds: "I’m always interested in big, universal themes that say something about the human condition. It doesn’t get much bigger than love and responsibility." And though neither are certain they believe in true love ('TBD', to be decided, as Summers-Valli asserts) they believe what we all have in common in these intimate situations is our basic sense of self and powerful, sometimes pain-enducing feelings. As du Toit elaborates, it ranges from our "vulnerability to temptation, the capacity to suffer, the desire to be part of something, a sense of the profound…"

Ultimately, it was a feat in itself to get five people to showcase a part of their inner self, not usually bared for anyone else, not least a creative project, but du Toit concludes that the creation of All That Is solidifed "the realisation that, given the chance, people will tell you about their lives. And you should listen."

All That Is airs tonight (August 28) at midnight as part of Random Acts on Channel 4