is the new short film co-written, co-produced with Beggar Film in Moscow and directed by Charley Stadler
Versus was officially selected by Blow Up Art House Film Festival, Chicago, 2019. In 2020, Versus was the winning film at the 330 Seconds Short Film Festival in Toronto and won best film and best actress at the London based Lonely Wolf Film Festival with 5 more nominations. Versus, also just won best fantasy short film and the Audience Award, best lead actress as well as best sound design and poster at the FICOCC Film Festival in Venezuela. In october 2020, Shots also recognized the Film for outstanding creativity.
The Lonely Wolf film festival committee wrote this revue about the film:
It should come as no surprise with Charley Stadler’s impressive commercial filmmaking background, that Versus was going to be exquisite to watch, and display a technical command of the highest degree. But where Versus truly excels, is in managing to do in four minutes, what a lot of films can't do in two hours, and that is to pass the test of time. I have watched this film over ten times, and have shown it to pretty much all my close friends to discuss it with them.
Versus starts off with a very simple stare off between a King & Queen, both powerful characters sat across far away from each other in their ‘thrones’, exuberating power through their glamorous appearance and surrounding. There’s a clear tension from the get go. Soon we discover this gorgeous couple have been in a relationship for seven years, and she has been pleading for a baby from him for the better part of their relationship. Our leading Queen (played by Nadezhda Azorkina, who is divine to watch) sits in discontent as various projections of her play out in front of our leading King (played by Nerijus Mankus, also superb casting, and a social remark in itself that he is older than her).
Through these projections Charley explores the continuous cycle we go through in tackling personal conflicts, and our drastic shifts from feeling empowered to completely shattered -and vice versa (almost like the five stages of grief, but the film was inspired more by Freud’s id, ego and superego theorem). Nadezhda displays incredible versatility within the projections, from stripped-down and vulnerable, to the dangerous siren, to the ruthless lawyer arguing their relationship being in breach of its contract.
But it’s our leading man who acts out the most grotesque performance of all; that of a man who doesn’t care and opts for an easy way out. It’s a comical but extremely powerful move that speaks volumes for this film. Versus offers social commentary in a way that will make this film remain a relevant testament to our current society. You could argue this one moment is a feminist declaration, but in many ways Charley remains very balanced and is a mere observant for this battle of the sexes. He cleverly explores this struggle for power between this King & Queen without ever taking a side; he opts for ambiguity, and in that open-ended closure to this piece, addresses a tale as old as time and incites conversation for a deeply-rooted sociological problem. In some ways, I think Charley sways more towards a feminist closure to the film. I wouldn’t be surprised if his first-hand experience in relationships inspired the making of his film; after all, directors make sense of life through their work.
The payoff is an extremely simplistic, effective and powerful metaphor for life; a thought-provoking film that will resonate with audiences and have them reference the film in philosophical conversations. A truly raw and honest film.
Charley Stadler and team, I commend you, you have made a masterpiece, and there is no doubt about that.
Versus is a visual spectacle that excels and twists all aspects of filmmaking to the highest levels of achievement; but above all, is a unique, highly entertaining film, that begs for answers to one of life’s biggest questions.