War films are best when they aren’t about massive attacks between thousands of men. With those, you see the scope of the damage, but you lose any personal connection with any one person. The best are the small stories. That’s what war is, a collection of individual stories — effecting individual people. Governments can paint the good guys and bad guys as black and white as they need. These small stories provide the gray matter in battle. They provide the ambiguities and the situations soldiers face every day. Situations that we civvies can’t even conceive of as we fret that Starbucks made our drink wrong.
Hog’s Tooth is a short film telling one of those small stories. A small team of snipers in Iraq are holed up in an abandoned building, assigned to oversee a potential weapon cache buried in the sand. Take out the person who comes to dig it up. One of the snipers hasn’t had his first kill, and must face the reality of his position when the target is no longer so clear.
Director and Visual Effects Supervisor, Olek Lyzwanski, paints the claustrophobic situation with the tension that you would hope for, balancing out the mundane daily rituals the soldiers face as they wait, along with the high tension situation of making the choice to take a life. The cinematography is beautiful, shot on a RedEPIC, capturing the perceived heat and swelter inside the hide, contrasting with the bright desert Iraq sun of the exterior shots. Because of his experience in visual effects, Lyzwanski could have chosen a story with a much larger scope, but instead, he opted to focus on a tight story, and instead use the visual effects to seamless put us into Iraq.
Already the short has won awards and selections in numerous California festivals including Santa Barbara and San Francisco. And deservedly so. Just recently, it became an official selection for the Cannes Film Festival.
If you have a chance to see it, I highly recommend that you do.