By Shari Berman
Some filmmakers see clearly how one person can have a huge impact on the life of another. AN HONORABLE MAN (Narrative Short, Directed by Harrison P. Crown/ William G. Utley) is a fine example of this. This film – where a priest (Michael Pemberton) conducts funeral services with no mourners in attendance – begs the question, “Who is the honorable man on screen?” Is it the priest going on with the service alone or the seemingly unloved deceased in the coffin? Moreover, is the person with the respectable title and the ability to go through the honorable motions of societal norms more effectual than the person who lacks that ability or status? The piece is introspective, quiet and surprisingly powerful. It reminds me greatly of August Stringberg’s, “The Stronger” in the use of the priest’s silent counterpart in the film.
Another powerful film is PEPPER (Narrative Short, Directed by Craig Robert Young). Though the story on the surface of this film is about a female impersonator helping an eight-year old boy find his way home, it is really a film about how an eight-year old boy helps a grown-up find out the truth about himself and what is really important. In this film, the seemingly less powerful person – the lost person – unwittingly exacts change in another human being.
This also is shown in WITHOUT FIRE (Narrative Short, Directed by Eliza McNitt) when a Navajo girl proves that she is the stronger individual when she helps to improve her overly domineering mother’s life. In addition, this film cleverly uses the mother (Misty Upham) and the daughter (Magdalena Begay) to symbolize traditional ways of living and modern life. It shows how they can exist together to bring about change for the good of all.
Where WITHOUT FIRE puts force for change front and center on screen, INQUIETUDE (Narrative Short, Directed by Morgan Davidsen) goes in a different direction and equally succeeds. The character on screen is not strong. She is an anxious dancer (Nina Ingemann) who can’t find the nerve to enter an audition without throwing up. Instead of being affected by the people in her day-to-day life, an unseen individual makes all the difference in her world. These films will make you remember that the individual can make a difference whether present or acting from afar.
PEPPER screens during the Brooklyn Born and Raised block on May 8th at I.S. 30 Mary White Ovington Auditorium at 7:30pm. It plays with HOW YOU DOIN’ BOY? VOICEMAILS FROM GRAN’PA, WAITING FOR MOLLY, THE MASTER CLEANSE, MILK AND HONEY and BODIES IN IRREVERSIBLE DETRIMENT.
AN HONORABLE MAN, INQUIETUDE and WITHOUT FIRE screen on Wednesday, May 7th at Founder’s Hall at 7pm. They play in a solid Drama Block including: BALANCE, SLOW AND STEADY, RESCUE, THEMES FROM A ROSARY and RESCUE.
I’ll be talking about some of these films, and others, in future installments so stay tuned.
Shari Berman is an award-winning filmmaker and partner in Be Independent Productions.
The 2014 Art of Brooklyn Film Festival runs May 7-11. For full schedule, film guide, trailers and tickets: