Thursday, 16 January 2020

FILM REVIEW: Three short films explore the intersection of fate and family

DADDY ISSUES: Where does a father end and a son begin? Such complicated family dynamics play out in Code, a terrific 12-minute film from writer-director Sarah Manley (and co-producer Darin Tennent) exploring independence, identity and complex father-son bonds. Kaleb D’Aguilar stars as Judah, an ambitious high-school kid who has a knack for computer programming. When an opportunity comes to enter and win a contest at school, Judah (whose struggling parents do farming) jumps at it. Trouble is, his strict Rastafarian father (Carl Davis) wants him to come home straight from school to help in the fields with the reaping. Hence, Judah is torn between chasing his dream and obeying his daddy. What should he do? His mother is equally torn, but firmly tells her husband that the boy “deserves a chance at his own life.” In the end, Manley’s film is really about following your heart and the price we often have to pay. [B+]

CARRY ME HOME: The suspense builds to an edge-of-your-seat climax in Passage, a captivating short made by Kareem Mortimer. It’s about a bunch of Haitian refugees – thirsty, hungry, hot – cramped below deck on a vessel headed for a better life in the US. But not everyone will make it to dry land. The boat’s ruthless crew members are not above throwing overboard anyone who has become sick – fearful that they will infect everybody else. So you feel for young mother Sandrine (Dana Ferguson), who quietly steals a bottle of water from the crew’s ice-box for her son Etienne (Lorenz Wright), who has started coughing up blood. Uh-oh. What plays out is a devastating, gut-wrenching sequence steeped in panic, desperation and cruel fate. [B+]

SKY’S THE LIMIT: Boys will be boys. Best friends and primary-age kids Kemar (Roheim Phillips) and Roshane (Craig Robinson) are on the house’s zinc roof with a makeshift telescope checking out the stars. Other times they lie on their backs just gazing up, dreaming of becoming astronauts exploring the celestial unknown. To wit, sometimes the boys dress up in full play-time astronaut costume. In Kia Moses’ fascinating effort Flight, such sequences set up a stunning contrast to the harsh socio-economic realities of surviving in the ghetto, where Kemar’s father, Clive (Jermaine Nelson) makes a living as a bus driver and a gang of hoodlums want to recruit and train Roshane. A no-nonsense father figure like Clive abhors the idea of his son having his head in the clouds instead of his schoolwork, but Moses succeeds in showing how a parent supporting a child’s dream can deepen that bond in the face of great odds. A well-made little film that deserves five ‘stars’. [A-]

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