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Today Might Be The Last Day I See Your Face

Vasco Mendes

Goodbye to all of this: a video shows life on the last day of New York.

"Today might be the last day I see your face" by Vasco Mendes can be read as a goodbye letter to someone we love under the appearance of an alarming announcement - might this be a person, a city, a certain idea of the future. Set in contemporary New York, the short film is a collection of everyday scenes and lives, shot around the unmistakable city’s streets, while the steam, rising from under the pavement, progressively appears as some kind of evil omen. "What is happening?" one might ask, "where's the danger, what is going to tear us apart, why are we going to lose ourselves?" The letter, declaimed by someone we cannot see, seems to have been written in the wake of an apocalyptic event: the end is somewhere ahead of us and even if we can hear it coming, we cannot forecast it.

"At first no one will notice," starts the film. "It will come from the ground, it will come from above" and trails into describing what the last day on earth would look like - with birds crashing into buildings, people getting lost, school, highways, and airports getting closed. The smoke will take over the city, encircling and concealing it under its suffocating cape. An apocalyptic yet not-so-unpredictable image of what is coming up for the humankind, especially these days.

However, when asked to present this short film, Vasco Mendes tells "in the year of 1966, New York City was dealing with a major air-pollution episode, during which the city disappeared in the smog", recalling a never-seen-before three days during which the city of New York was covered in smoke, like an unstoppable fire was devouring it, except there was no fire.
"As I arrived in New York," he continues, "I was fascinated by the steam that comes from the underground and the orange tubes always drove my mind to think of the factory chimneys and the effects of the pollution and how it can suffocate a city."

This cannot even be called a dystopic tale, whereas it is a bitter and sentimental adieu to the present, calling for a deeper sense of love and community: the world is ending but the thing we will miss the most won’t be commodities or future opportunities, but the face of a fellow human being. Not a traditional architectural video, "Today might be the last day I see your face" is a well-shot, poignant short film that rings more than a few bells today (its reference to the masks covering our faces truly sounds like an omen).

Kudos to the signature wonderful and gritty appearance of the new yorker buildings, of the shining skyscrapers that look here as frail as ever, yet fascinating. The video ends while graced with some wonderful sunset (there must be a correlation between the beauty of some sunsets and the polluted air - as if the end will come majestically, fooling us with its instagrammability). A few years ago there was a song that said that "love is watching someone die" and asked, "so who's gonna watch you die?": the same question could be asked here - "who would you watch on the last day of your life?"


Music and Sound Design: Vasco Rodrigues
Visual Effects: Gustavo Carreiro

United States 2019
Duration: 6'12"