Breathtaking short films examine many relevant issues

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By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J.

Lanre Olabisi’s film “A Storybook Ending” focuses on a Black man who kills a white cop in self-defense.

Starring Rotimi Paul, Carra Patterson, Sawandi Wilson and Toni Ann DeNoble.

“A Storybook Ending” focuses on a Black man who accidentally kills a white cop in self-defense. This topical short recently screened at the San Francisco Black Film Festival, the San Antonio Film Festival, and the Woods Hole Film Festival, as well as the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) in August.

When a Black man accidentally kills a white cop in self-defense, the cover-up sets off a chain reaction of deceit, blackmail and murder. I saw this film as part of the ABFF. It was filled with tension, as the Black man doesn’t know he is being videotaped when he accidentally kills the cop. The pair behind the video tape next try to blackmail the man and his fiancée, only to trip up themselves, during a harrowing few minutes in the Black man’s apartment.

Director Brwa Vahabpour’s “Silence” focuses on a deaf girl who struggles to navigate in a world of silence. “Silence” tells the story of a young deaf girl who struggles to fit in. This topical short, which looks closely at social isolation, has recently screened at the Oscar-qualifying Odense International Film Festival and Encounters Film Festival last month. A Kurdish girl is deaf, and her parents cannot afford to send her to a special school. The girl, therefore, fights against everything.

Poppy Gordon’s live-action short “For Your Consideration” shares a story of three women who are determined to make an Oscar-worthy film. In an unholy fusion of wokeness and cluelessness, they build a narrative from the high perch of their privilege and almost give a voice to the voiceless.

This fantastic short, which takes a snapshot of American culture and dares viewers to laugh and cringe at how it is manufactured, screened at the recent Oscar-qualifying festival Odense International Film Festival.

Roy Arwas’ Award-winning short “Clarity” focuses on a turbulent relationship between father and son. “Clarity” shares the story of a man who confronts his abusive father over his past actions. This film has already screened at the Mammoth Film Festival 2020, where it won the Grand Jury Award for Short Film and Best Actor. It also won the Best Student Film Award at both Houston WorldFest 2020 and at the Global Impact Awards 2020.

After serving 10 years in the Marines, Tom returns home to find out that his estranged abusive father, Richard, who has Alzheimer’s, does not remember him. This film was a sad but powerful eye opener and great look at this “memory-stealing illness,” as Richard is so combative with his son, Tom. He thinks that Tom is his deceased brother, which really confuses the situation. The pair is eventually able to come to a common ground after a trip to a diner, after Tom is able to get through to his father that he is hurting as well. “Clarity” can be viewed at https://www.lashortsfest.com/.

Sonia K. Hadad’s Award-winning “Exam” focuses on a teenager who compromises an important test with a drug delivery. This film shares a story of a young woman who needs to deliver cocaine to a client, at the request of a relative, only to gravely endanger herself in the process. This phenomenal short has already won 10 Awards, including the Grand Jury Prize for Live Action Short at AFI Fest 2019 and the Special Jury Award for Acting at Sundance Film Festival 2020. This film also screened at the Oscar-qualifying Odense International Film Festival in August.

A teenage girl reluctantly agrees to deliver a pack of cocaine on the day of an important test. A series of unforeseen events threaten to derail more than her GPA. This film was painful to watch, as the young girl is forced to wait on a corner to deliver cocaine to a buyer that never shows up. She is, in turn, late for classes—even though she has an important exam coming up. After the exam, school authorities storm the classroom searching for infringements and searching backpacks. She is forced to ingest the drugs—with dire consequences. This film speaks to the patriarchal power under which the young girl lives in her country, and her last-ditch effort to cover up the drugs to which she has been entrusted.

Alex Anna’s animated documentary “Scars” reflects on the crucial topics of Mental Health and Self Harming. This film is an intimate portrait of the directors’ own personal battles and brings awareness and stresses the importance of discussing these topics. It had its world premiere online at the Toronto International Film Festival last month. Blending documentary and animation, Alex Anna’s courageous, distinctive, and poetic reflection of her mental health struggle brings to light a new story of self-harm that is both impactful and intensely intimate.

Paul Komadina’s Award-winning short “Abduction” shares a story of a woman who seeks the truth after blacking out. This short focuses on a woman who tries to retrace her steps after waking up in the middle of nowhere. This film won the 2020 CinefestOZ Audience Choice Award at Cinefest Oz.

After waking up in a field with no memory of how she got there, Mathilda reckons strange visions and marks on her body with the trail of judgement and cruelty that follows.

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