How do we care for our loved ones well? This question, simple in theory, isn’t always so straightforward. A group of San Jose State University students explore this concept in their story Felt Love, a 2D and stop motion animated short film. In Felt Love, a mom/seamstress finds her son peeking his head through her sewing room doorway, hopeful of story time, and must figure out how to balance work and family. It’s a straightforward film, but it’s sure to strike a chord — especially considering current events. Moms and dads attempting to work from home during the pandemic will feel a pang of sympathy for this mother and her internal battle as she’s torn between spending quality time with her family and providing for them.

“Just because people show their love in different ways doesn’t mean it’s not there,” one of the film’s directors Arlene Bongco observes. “Appreciate the people around you and the things they do for you.” Arlene and her co-director Angeline Vu will premiere their film at the International Short Film Festival (SJSFF), representing our city among a number of globally curated selections.

This year, SJSFF will present its first home edition — fitting, actually, considering that the pandemic itself is an international experience of sorts. From October 22nd to 25th, the festival will offer moviegoers a couchside escape with over 130 films from more than 24 countries, film panels, special zoom events, and even a virtual wine pairing.

Just like we have found ways to make headway on the bumpy road of 2020, Felt Love delves into moments of grace in the midst of imperfection. In fact, finding the highs within the lows seems to be a defining characteristic in Arelene and Angeline’s friendship. Over their semesters at SJSU, the two students cheered each other on whenever the school load grew heavy. “We had spent the last four years struggling through college together and couldn’t imagine not working together for our final year,” Arlene shares.

This theme carries over to the film’s visuals, an intriguing blend of 2D and 3D animation. “In our film, nothing is perfect,” Angeline explains, “from the sewing machine, the table, the chairs, to the relationship between the mother and son. Much like real life, everything has its flaws and imperfections, and we thought that 2D animation on top of a hand-built set would best communicate that idea.”

Another visual element carefully considered was the color scheme. “Colors are very heavily tied to emotions,” Arlene explains. “For Felt Love, we wanted the warm yellows and oranges of the film to fill viewers’ hearts with the same feelings of warmth and love.” Angeline agrees, adding, “there are subtle shifts in color to more blue, purple, or red tones to add onto the emotion.”

The final product brought to life by Arlene, Angeline, and the rest of their team, is a tender rendering of familial compassion. “Love shows itself in different ways,” Angeline reminds viewers. “Sometimes, it’s upfront and obvious, and other times it’s quiet and unspoken, but both kinds of love can be equally as strong.”

The icing on the cake is that the film doesn’t even need dialogue to get that message across. It seems appropriate considering that love itself is understood by viewers across the globe — from California to Costa Rica to Cambodia — and is precisely the emotion that will see us through even the trickiest moments of COVID living.

Instagram: feltlove_film

San Jose Short Film Festival — Over 80 World Class Short Films / International Musical Guests / Filmmaker Q&A’s and more.
4 Day Virtual Experience