The First Kiss by Tatia Pileva – Review

I am obviously not the only one to be totally wowed by Tatia Pilieva’s three minute short film ‘The First Kiss’. After two weeks online it now has over 67 million views. Pilieva has made one feature film “Forever” (2014) and teamed up to make this video with Melissa Coker of LA based clothing company WREN Studio. The premise is simple. Twenty strangers kiss for the first time.

The film is shot in the studio with a small but significant crew including make up, hair, stylists and most tellingly 5 camera operators. You wouldn’t want to miss anything if you are trying to capture that first moment. The cameras do indeed capture the uncertainty, caution, and interest of the subjects and of course the first kisses. The story starts with just voices and text establishing the story and as the subjects talk and connect the music fills the silence. It is powerful and emotional capturing that spark when humans connect and look into each other beyond the surface. As Pilieva said in an interview for the Huffington Post blog Goodnews Mar 22 2014, ‘We sometimes argue that technology isolates us as humans, but if nothing else, “First Kiss” suggests perhaps that we are still united by our desire for love and connection’.

The music by Soko “We might be dead tomorrow” is powerful and evocative. Interestingly the song has hit number 9 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and Soko herself is seeing her career skyrocket. The film is shot in black and white suiting perfectly both the mood and the content. Although this film is produced by a fashion label we are not distracted by the colour or design or style of clothes or hair. We focus on faces, eyes, mouths. The editing is highly effective using minimal voices to great effect. When the subjects look to camera and ask ‘so whenever?” Pilieva replies ‘we’re rolling’. It was a choice of hers not to ever call ‘action’ but to allow the couples to find their way naturally.

Pilieva posted this video on style.com on March 16, 2014. A few hours later she posted it on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Vimeo. By the end of the day the video had over 600,000 views. The next day it had over 5 million views. A brilliant example of the power of social media! When she came up with idea Pilieva thought it was either her best or her worst decision ever. If you haven’t seen it, you decide.

In the two weeks since it was posted ‘The First Kiss’ has had many parodies including a version using puppies and kittens and one of straight Saudi men, not kissing, but touching noses. The most interesting version to me is the Italian version which was posted by on March 16 2014. This video, made in one day on the streets in Italy, is actually a parody as it was made in response to the film maker finding out that the strangers in the original were in fact models, actors and musicians. I think this raises a really interesting question about documenting reality versus art. What do you think?

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