REVIEW: Ian (Short)

Directed by: Abel Goldfarb
Written by: Gaston Gorali

Written by Jessica Peña

Inspired by the real life story of Ian, a young boy who was born with cerebral palsy, Abel Goldfarb’s animated short film about the titular boy is a sweet and profound revelation, even for a child’s perspective, where its strength lies. It tells of a boy’s struggle to make friends at the playground, using unique stop-motion animation and CGI to bring Ian’s obstacles, the mobile and emotional, to life. It’s a push for awareness through universal imagery and only invites kindness into the world around it, as portrayed in Ian’s will to connect. Just shy of ten minutes, this endearing short film is of the firm belief that misconceptions and stigmas, especially at a young age, can be diminished in the face of benevolence.

Discrimination to Ian’s incapacitation and bullying keep him at bay when all he wants is to play with the kids in the gated off playground. He musters up the courage to integrate himself with the others, hanging by shyly, until he’s suddenly whisked away into the wind and back through the gates, shattering into little blocks and reforming back to his wheelchair. This happens a few times, Ian will peek the chances to feel normal, be perceived by the kids as such, and play with no limitations, but inclusion doesn’t need to come at a cost to Ian’s identity.

Eventually the kids, one by one, begin to notice him and lend a hand so he can stay without his wheelchair (before getting pulled toward the fences once more), but that’s far from the point of what the animated short is trying to communicate. It’s not exactly Ian’s determined bravery that finally wins the other kids over, but it’s the integration of putting yourself out there and freeing yourself of those doubts, not to be overshadowed. This closely works as a teaching moment for the younger audience as it smoothes out the social divide kids sometimes make around that age. This film means so much more when it comes to the mentality of young children. It’s easy for them to pick sides, brush others off, be occupied with their own matters and games, and so Ian’s ability to socialize and play with his able-bodied peers suffers…but it doesn’t have to. When kids interact and spend time with each other, the companionship is equivalent to acceptance with no barriers.

And speaking of barriers, Goldfarb’s short is without spoken dialogue, a creative decision that welcomes the interpretation of other backgrounds. Produced by Oscar winner and two-time Emmy winner Juan José Campanella, this small story for a better tomorrow brings you down to the bare pillars of humanity, lending a hand of its own to shatter petty judgement worldwide. Lack of knowledge and awareness about the condition even in the country of Argentina raises action for change, backed by an organization that’s willing to plant the effort in.

A 2019 Oscar-qualifier for Animated Short, Ian is doing well to win the hearts of Academy voters and audiences alike. Released from Argentina with the help and funding of companies and nonprofits like Mundoloco CGI and Fundación Ian, an organization that raises awareness and further enriches the lives of children with cerebral palsy, the short film is all-embracing to understanding. In part due to its absence of spoken words, the short emphasizes to the viewers just how far kindness, understanding, and patience can cross the fences of discrimination and bullying, especially in the lives of our children who are so perceptive to these behaviors. The film’s description says it best: Inclusion is vital for our society, it makes us richer, more diverse and more just.

Jessica’s Verdict

5

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REVIEW: E T A (2018)

Directed by: Talia Shea Levin

WRITTEN BY JESSICA PEĂ‘A

Talia Shea Levin’s latest project E T A celebrates community and identity as one woman (Alexis Floyd) combats the need to isolate herself at a bus stop and instead begins to reach out to those around her. Through song and dance, the short video creates an all too real narrative of feeling alone in a crowded space, not feeling like you’re enough for the mold society creates, and even that lingering self doubt. Like breaking the glass ceiling of social confines, our leading gal opens herself up to the community, segueing into a gracefully choreographed dance that represents the power and potential of individuality, and even the strength of women working together.  

This is the second dance narrative film collaboration between Levin and Floyd, having teamed up previously on an unofficial music video project for Alabama Shakes’ song “Gimme All Your Love,” a video that’s garnered over 36 thousand views on Vimeo. Alexis Floyd, who’s so masterful at inviting the camera to her choreography, is full of life and wonder in her performance work. Here in Levin’s non-traditional short, performance art takes soul by the hand and guides us to a divine sense of belonging, to yourself and to the little parts that make you who you are. The rich choreography, combined with facets of film and even an originally composed song (“Enough,” by performer/actress Alexis Floyd), creates a blossoming turn of events for Floyd’s character, a woman who is fighting the urge to remain isolated and instead uses that energy to invite positivity.

E T A’s supporting cast of dancers fill the room, twirling, leaping, and welcoming the change of pace. The community that forms onscreen and in our hearts is both a testament to Levin’s narrative guidance and Floyd’s charismatic, felt performance. It makes a viewer reach within themselves and take flight. The result is a self-satisfaction like nothing else, reminding us that we can take the simplest of risks and be heard, something that may otherwise seem insurmountable to some. When we decide to open our hearts and battle isolation and choose a collective support system, miraculous things can happen. What’s communicated in Levin’s project is reinvigorating. It’s a collaborative ensemble of dancers, musicians, and filmmakers all coming together to create. Much like its production, the finished product is a unique collection, merging dance, sound, and film for big causes. It marches on like a creative protest against division and even doubt, the veiled force against us all.    

E T A is a form of unity, confidence, and empowerment. Talia Shea Levin embraces many arts to tell us a condensed moment of time we all come to grips with and it works on the soul. Wonderfully edited and paced, the short bounces off the screen and interacts with you, as lush as its message. Not only will its original track have you humming all day, but it’s a constant reminder to never sell yourself short or doubt your worth, and that’s a message art can never ignore.

Jessica’s Verdict

4

You can find out more about the film, and watch it, here. 

JUMPSCARECUT: Defarious (Short)

Year: 2018
Directed by: Chase Michael Pallante
Cast: Janet Miranda, Jason Torres, Sonia Sierra
Runtime: 13m 17s

“A young woman is tormented by her nightmares and they are beginning to manifest so strongly she becomes disillusioned between the world of her imagination and what is truly reality.”

Written by Tom Sheffield

Defarious is the latest short film from R&F Entertainment and is directed by Chase Michael Pallante. This short has just finished it’s incredibly successful festival run, picking up a number of award nominations and wins along the way, and is now available to stream!

The film revolves around Amy (Janet Miranda), who is tormented by her nightmares. After one of her nightmares jolts her awake in a breathless panic, Amy immediately seeks comfort from the framed picture of her mum, followed by her reaching for her phone which was charging down by the side of her bed. Amy realises her phone isn’t where she left it and decides to go look for it, but while she hunts for her phone, something is hunting her and the lines of reality and imagination blur.

Janet Miranda has only a line or two of dialogue in this film and so the film heavily relies on her physical acting capabilities. Miranda is incredibly talented and her performance here is superb – completely sucking the audience in to this situation and making you shout at the screen to try and help her. Defarious marks a strong directorial debut for Chase Michael Pallante, who also wrote and edited the film. Chase is always very involved with the films he is a part of and has been credited on various projects for producing, sound effects editing, casting, and a handful of other departments – this knowledge and experience will surely benefit Chase on his future projects and we here at JUMPCUT look forward to seeing what he cooks up.

One of aspects I really loved about this short was the music and the sound effects because they both are both used so effectively and really ramp up this psychological horror and take it to the next level. I knew this would likely be the case following how prominently music was used during the short’s marketing. Jonathan Martinez’s score has a familiar and nostalgic sound to it, reminiscent of 80s horrors and slashers that Chase clearly used as influences for this short.

From the word go, the score sets the tone of the film and the tension just keeps on building.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the incredible work from the special effects and makeup department. Jason Torres is completely unrecognisable under the haunting white makeup, and the design of the character as a whole is simple yet terrifying. There is also a scene later in the film that could have come off as incredibly cheesy if the practical effects were half-arsed. Thankfully, this wasn’t the case and special effects make-up artist Greer Gillespie has done an incredible job, both with Torres’ character and the aforementioned scene I won’t spoil for you.

The entirety of this short is set at night in an unlit house, but the film’s cinematographer, Christian Reyes, and Chase have used the night setting to their advantage and have created a truly chilling and claustrophobic atmosphere that will make you leave the lights on in your house. We’re excited to have been given the opportunity to chat with Janet Miranda and some of the cast that worked on Defarious and will be sharing those with you all shortly!

Defarious is an unsettling psychological horror that respectfully pays homage to the classic slashers of the 80s whilst adding an unnerving supernatural twist. Each shot is filled with tension and you’ll find your eyes darting around the screen looking for something that isn’t there.

Turn the volume up, switch the lights off, and prepare for a real scare this Spooktober.

Tom’s Verdict:

4

Lion (Short)

Year: 2017
Written & Directed by: Davide Melini
Cast: Pedro Sánchez, Michael Segal, Tania Mercader
Runtime: 11m 48s

Written by Lucy Buglass

Upon discovering this short film, I was impressed with how well it had performed. During its first year of distribution, it has won 126 awards at a variety of film festivals which is quite the selling point.  Walking in to the film, I didn’t know much about it but the air of mystery made my viewing experience even better. The film is set in an isolated cabin, on a snowy night, which creates the perfect backdrop for a horror tale…

From the very first scene you can tell this cabin is not a happy place to be. Straight away we’re created with sounds of domestic violence, making the viewer feel instantly uncomfortable. The father in the film is repulsive and lives in a squalor, with cigarette butts, leftover pizza and empty cans of beer dotted everywhere. Michael Segal  really brought this character to life, showing us that not all villains are supernatural or machete wielding psychopaths. Some evil can be found in the average home, behind closed doors, where violence takes over. Sometimes humans can be more terrifying than anything else.

The way Lion deals with domestic violence, particularly against children, was done incredibly well. It’s not an easy topic to cover but this short makes an impact without going too far and making it gratuitous. Part of what makes this film so good is what you don’t see on screen, and how your imagination runs wild. It has a slow burning narrative that builds up the suspense and finally unleashes the climactic moment with only a few minutes to spare, providing closure and satisfaction for the spectator.

I really liked the use of special effects throughout the film, because they blended in nicely with the rest of the scene and weren’t overdone at any point. Cinematically it hits all the right notes for a horror film through it’s use of low-lighting, tense creeping moments, and an excellent use of music. Jump scares and gore weren’t needed in Lion, because it manages to deliver real horror in a much more subtler, but effective way. The presence of the lion throughout was a good motif to use as well, as they’re synonymous with courage and being a fighter. You’ll see what I mean when you watch it.

Lion is an incredibly important short film that I believe is a must watch, even for those who don’t tend to reach for horrors. The final card at the end reiterates the important message that is present throughout the film, and it really resonated with me. It’s a film with fantasy elements, yet still deep rooted within reality that it makes you want to stand up and take action in any way you can.

Lucy’s Verdict:

4

People You May Know (Short)

Year: 2018
Directed by: Louisa Fielden
Cast: Aiysha Hart, Joseph Timms

Written by Lucy Buglass

Have you ever scrolled through Facebook when the algorithm recommends someone from your past? Sometimes you feel happy, sometimes upset or even angry. We’ve all been there, and Louisa Fielden’s latest short film, People You May Know, centres around this very topic. After seeing ex-boyfriend James pop up as a suggested friend, Emily decides to add him and invites him to a coffee shop for a catch up eleven years after their break up. Set predominately in the cafe, we watch as the two of them discuss their past, and dark secrets are uncovered.

This is an incredibly emotionally charged film that deals with some upsetting topics. I personally found it very hard to watch but that’s a testament to how good the script and acting is. Despite the fact there’s only two actors, both Hart and Timms give excellent performances that hold your full attention for the entire duration. Over the course of the narrative we learn more and more about these two characters, in a similar fashion to reading all about somebody on social media, and we begin to feel like we’re part of these character’s lives.

I really loved the intrusive nature of the camera and it was one of my favourite things about People You May Know.  It felt like I was watching real people, talking about a very real and raw former relationship, and I was someone listening in when I wasn’t supposed to be. The film places you in that cafe, locks the door, and forces you to listen to every word even when you don’t want to. I was truly captivated by this short film and can’t praise the screenwriting enough for that. I thought the pacing was just right, and the dialogue packs an almighty punch when needed.

With this in mind, I appreciated the way these difficult topics were handled; in a way that emphasises their serious nature but doesn’t become too graphic. The incident that Emily recounts to James and to us, the viewer, has scarred her for life and is both physically and emotionally damaging. The way she spoke about it brought me to tears, as I expect was the intention. She is a hugely complex character with complex emotions that are often disregarded. Although she is only on screen for a few minutes compared to hours, we learn so much about her and her past.

People You May Know is harrowing but I would definitely recommend it if you feel you’re able to watch. With a runtime of 16 minutes, it’s a quick watch but something that will stay with you for a very long time once the credits roll. It’s a stunningly made, realistic and heartbreaking short about love, loss, trauma and confrontation. I’ve never seen anything quite like it before.

Lucy’s Rating: 

4.5

You can keep up to date with Louisa Fielden via her website and Twitter! 

Heartless (Short)

Year: 2018
Written & Directed by: Kevin Sluder
Runtime: 12 minutes 24 seconds
Cast: Stacy Snyder, Joanna Sotomura, Matt Mercer, Blaine Vedros, Ron Morehouse, Melody Melendez

Written by Tom Sheffield

Heartless is a brand new short film from the award-winning L.A based Sunshine Boy Productions and is inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’. Heartless marks Kevin Sluder’s directorial debut, who is also one half of Sunshine Boy Productions team alongside his wife, Jennifer, who is an executive producer on this film.

I will try to avoid spoilers ahead as best I can because if you do intend to watch this when it’s released for public viewing you’ll thank me for it!

Selby (Stacy Snyder) is about to deliver a presentation at work but it’s clear something is weighing heavily on her mind. Before she even starts her presentation, three ‘classic’ businessmen (total asshats who belittle women and think they’re God’s gift) already make it clear they would have preferred Clare, Selby’s co-worker who she worked on the presentation with, to have been presenting. This is then followed by a demand for Selby to fetch some coffee before she starts. The look on Selby’s face says it all and if looks could kill all three of the men would be laid out on the meeting room table. One of the men then tells Selby it’s just a joke but then says she has to smile before the presentation can start. The smile she forces herself to wear is the point Selby snaps and we learn who Clare is and why she isn’t the one presenting.

Selby gives Christian Bale’s Patrick Bateman a run for his money when she snaps, and it makes for bloody magnificent viewing. My jaw literally dropped during the flashback to the night before when we learn of Clare’s fate. Snyder absolutely nails her performance as she completely owns the screen and I found myself unable to take my eyes off her (those of a squeamish nature may find themselves looking away during one or two particular moments). Admittedly I haven’t seen any of Snyder’s previous work, but having seen her in this I will definitely be seeking some out.

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I really couldn’t write this review and not praise Josh and Sierra Russell for their incredible blood and gore effects. Their work on this short is easily better than some feature-length films I’ve seen and it really elevates this short to a whole other level. I really didn’t expect this film to make me jump back in my chair in surprise during some of its big moments, but the makeup and effects are incredibly well detailed and executed that, for a moment, I fully believed someone just had their throat sliced open with a coffee mug.

The cast and crew as a whole have delivered a sleek and professional final product that could easily be mistaken as a scene from a bigger budget feature. Steve Moore’s score is incredibly fitting with the craziness that ensues too. The second the credits finished rolling I immediately started the film again and began to pick up some of the subtle and clever details I missed the first time round. Once again, Snyder’s performance was completely captivating

This is a solid debut from Sluder, who has managed to deliver a brutal and thrilling horror/dark-comedy that honestly surpassed my initial expectations. I would happily sit and watch a feature-length film exploring the days leading up to this presentation and Selby’s brewing outburst. As a short, I can’t fault any aspect of it. The whole thing is incredibly well executed, from the makeup to the editing, and Sulder’s superb writing and direction.

Tom’s Rating:

5

Be sure to keep up to date with Sunshine Boy Productions on their social media pages: 

Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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Maturing Youth (Short)

Year: 2018
Directed by: Divoni Simon
Written by: Isabel Kruse, Chase Michael Pallante, Divoni Simon
Cast: Sean A. Kaufman, Kim Paris, Darleen Rae Fontaine, Rae’l Ba, Joshua St. Leger, Albee Castro, Terrence Keene
Runtime: 34 minutes 13 seconds

Written by Tom Sheffield

“The puzzle of life is for ones self discovery.”

Roger is an unemployed, weed smoking layabout that spends his days watching cartoons in his dressing gown. When he’s not doing that, he’s trying to chat up women in the street – so as you can imagine, he’s got no interest in having responsibilities or commitments. His care-free world is rocked when his ex, Sadie, appears on his doorstep with a young son he never knew he had. Not being able to cope with Roger’s lifestyle and attitude, Sadie walks out on him, leaving her son in the incapable hands of Roger. But when his son falls ill, Roger’s situation hits him like a truck and he has to make a decision – to continue swerving any and all responsibilities thrown his way, or to step up to the plate and be a father to his son.

The entire film takes place in Roger’s house, and the only colour in it is his Rastafarian flag dressing gown, which it appears he practically lives in. In a way, the state of the house reflects Roger’s current lifestyle – boring, plain, and there’s no effort put into it. It’s a fitting and well suited environment for this character, and the story that develops.

Kaufman delivers a first-rate performance as Roger, nailing both the lax, detestable character we see at the beginning and the Roger we get a glimpse of towards the end of the film. I won’t go into spoiler territory in this review because I implore you to seek out this film when you can to watch it for yourself. Roger is definitely a character I would love to have seen a bit more depth to, especially towards the end of the film. Granted, the film’s runtime will have been a major factor here as we also had to be introduced to a number of different characters – but I would watch a feature-film based on this screenplay and characters in a heartbeat.

Kim Paris’ brief performance as Sadie came off very natural, and whilst I would have loved to have seen more of her, her limited screen time was well utilized as she helps develop the plot, as well as give us some more information about Roger and his life. Joshua St. Leger plays the role of Junior, and whilst his lines are very limited, the rest of his performance draws out the more heartwarming moments in the film when he shares the screen with Kaufman.

Another mention has to go to Terrence Keen, who plays Doctor Riccard. Riccard is called to Roger’s house when Junior falls ill, and it’s he who is the voice of reason to try make Roger understand the detrimental effect his refusal to be a parent will have on young Junior in his future life. The character of the Doctor was a very brave and ambitious inclusion, but the character and his scenes were executed well enough in this short to not feel out of place in such a story. I’m sure once you watch for yourself, you’ll understand what I mean.

It’s evident from the bloopers and behind-the-scenes footage that play alongside the credits that the cast and crew had a lot of fun making this film, and this is evident in the end product, which is well shot, acted, and edited. These were a great addition and personally I love the inclusion of behind the scenes stuff in film’s credits so it ticked yet another box for me.

‘Maturing Youth’ definitely has taken some inspiration from films before it (one example that instantly sprung to mind was ‘Big Daddy’), but as a ‘dramedy’ short it works incredibly well, leaning more on the drama aspect aspect than the comedy. This works in the film’s favour as the humour it does provide doesn’t feel shoe-horned in.  The strong performances from it’s cast, along with a solid screenplay and direction, make this a truly wonderful short film that has a lot of heart… and it left me wanting more!

TOM’S RATING:

4

You can find out more about ‘Maturing Youth’ on their official website, Facebook, and Instagram

You can also keep an eye on R&F Entertainment’s work on their official website, Facebook, and Instagram