Battle of the Jazz Guitarist

This short film by Mark Columbus is a twisting but sincere portrayal of the complex relationship between father and son.

Prepare to go on a journey that surpasses your expectations with this subtly directed, emotionally layered short film that was a 2013 Student Academy Award National finalist.

Filmmaker Mark Columbus introduces the subject of his film – his father – as if embarking on a portrait piece structured on a conventional narrative arc. However, as the film unfolds, the subject changes, with the filmmaker himself becoming part of the story and the narration revealing the complexities of his relationship with his father.

Columbus sets out to devote his graduate school project to his dad, an accomplished jazz guitarist described as "the Jimi Hendrix of Fiji" whose attempt to resurrect his music career later in life falls short.

The film features no spoken words or dialogue; all narration is in the form of subtitles. This device draws the viewer into the filmmaker's thoughts and keeps the focus on the hypnotic spell of the visuals and music. Following the opening scene, a metafilm unfolds.

As the story begins to change, with the son exerting his authority as the film director over his subject, this becomes a film about the making of a film and a more honest portrayal of the father-son dynamic. It speaks of creative frustration, dreams dashed by the demands of life and the legacy for those who come after.

Though the film is somewhat open-ended, it’s sure to uplift you.

Columbus has made several short films, and is currently a fourth-year directing graduate student at the UCLA School of Theater, Film & Television.