The West Edmonton Mall is the largest shopping centre in North America, a 465,000sqm-waterslide-and-roller-coaster-filled alternate reality where Albertans can escape brutal winters and mosquito-clouded summers. But in “Waterpark”, the directorial debut of Canadian filmmaker Evan Prosofsky, the shopping centre is cast as a place where placid indoor humans spend their entire lives being entertained.
“I never seemed to adjust to the absurdity,” Prosofsky tells NOWNESS, who commissioned the film as part of their Shorts on Sundays series. “Even as a kid, I just couldn’t believe we had flamingos, submarines, roller coasters and pirate ships in our mall.” Prosofsky (who worked at the shopping centre as a teen) spent three years shooting the footage, working during downtime at his job directing music videos for bands like Grimes and Kurt Vile.
It’s a startlingly beautiful piece of film, tempered by an ominous soundtrack by Taiwanese-Canadian musician Alex Zhang Hungtai (aka Dirty Beaches). “I want you to feel the humidity of the room, smell the chlorine, hear the screaming children, the intercom announcements, the palm trees blowing from the massive electric fans, and the waves rolling like the ocean,” Prosofsky explains. “For me, portraying these small details as accurately and as beautifully as possible is the make or break of my film.”
As someone with mild mall-induced anxiety, I’d wager that watching “Waterpark” is far more pleasant than actually visiting. It’s enough to make you wonder why megamalls don’t commission their own sizzle reels. Your move, Mall of America. [NOWNESS]