Watch First Short By ‘Heaven Knows What’ Director Benny Safdie Online For Free

Watch a Safdie come into his own with an early short.
"The Acquaintance of a Lonely John"
"The Acquaintances of a Lonely John"

Our own senior film critic David Ehrlich has called “Heaven Knows What,” the breakout feature film by Josh and Benny Safdie, “fucking amazing.” This week, educational hub for independent film Le CiNéMa Club uploaded Benny Safdie’s thesis film from his time at Boston University called “The Acquaintances of a Lonely John.” In the 2008 short, you can see Sadie’s 16mm sense of grit and realism coming into form.

READ MORE: How the Safdies Made Verité Drug Drama ‘Heaven Knows What’ with a Real-Life Ex-Junkie

Though it was shot in the aughts, you could easily mistake the Safdie film for something out of the 80s. The color palette is washed out and the characters seem plucked from an obscure time and place. Otherwise, the film is as straightforward as the title: John (played by Safdie himself) is lonely, and wanders from place to place kicking rocks and holding doors open for strangers. Most of the film centers around a gas station, where he meets a clerk, fends off a thief, gives customers free gas and chillaxes with what could be his new best friend.

“Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between hysterical laughter and hysterical crying,” Safdie writes in the synopsis.

Ben Safdie in "Acquaintance of a Lonely John"
Ben Safdie in “The Acquaintances of a Lonely John”

READ MORE: What Does a 21st Century Film School Look Like?

Watch the entire 12-minute short at Le CiNéMa Club through Saturday July 16. Be sure to check out “Heaven Knows What” on Netflix Instant, and be on the lookout for their upcoming film “Good Time,” starring Robert Pattinson.

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