Short Film Review: Sidewalk Symphony


Writer/Director Jonathan Salemi has taken things back to basics with this endearing short, winner at the Boston International Film Festival with 12 other official selections and counting.

Screened at the Sydney Opera House and currently showing on national TV in the US, Europe and Africa, it’s not hard to see why this charming piece has been so well received.

The story is simple, a young boy (Dylan Sylvester) is disengaged from his surroundings due to the distraction of his IPod. After a near miss with a car his mother (Eliana Saenz) takes away the offending item and sends him on an errand. The rest of the short shows the boys steady realisation that he can use his imagination to become composer of his own symphony without the assistance of technology, connecting him with others and instilling in him a sense of community and an awareness of what’s around him.

Salemi developed the idea for the story when he began feeling, as many can relate to, over sensitized to technology, and wanted to create a feeling of nostalgia for the time when children formed their own entertainment from the environment around them. Watching the main character make music from everyday objects and learn to appreciate the world he previously took for granted is a wonderful experience, and a little eye opening.  

At just shy of 8 minutes, the pacing is excellent whilst the lack of dialogue makes it accessible to everyone. The camerawork fits with the emerging carefree attitude of our protagonist and Sylvester does a superb job of reminding us just what children are missing out on in a social media obsessed world. The music, by Tony Fiala, is brilliantly unique – starting off small and building to a crescendo filled with optimism.

 This is one that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike, and kind of makes you just want to go outside and have fun no matter what your age. Salemi should be extremely proud of this thought provoking work and we look forward to seeing what he can do next, with four more shorts in the pipeline we shouldn’t have to wait too long.

Katie Hall is the assistant editor at Critics Associated.