To My Father
One of the most heart-wrenching films of the festival, this short tells the real story of Polish poet Adam Bandrowski who was put into a Russian prison for being of Polish descent during Stalin's “Great Terror.” Told through the eyes of Bandrowski's three-year-old daughter, both as a girl then and as an older woman now, the film shows the horrors of that era, what her family had to go through, and the tragic end to her father's life as a beloved Polish poet and citizen.
The tales of the Holocaust have been told for a long time, but never really before have we seen the stories of the people who survived it - as people, not as those who lived through a horrific events. Most people who were able to get through that event are stigmatized by that fact, and this story follows one of those individuals who refuses to let that be what defines her. While being interviewed by her granddaughter, an older woman describes her life through a series of anecdotes, despite not being the design of the interview as a whole. (I was able to interview the film's director and star, Daniella Rabbini, prior to this showing.)
The first World War was one of the first times the world as a whole had seen this kind of violence throughout so many nations. It was especially tough on the young, as the average age of a soldier during that time was under today's legal drinking age. With so many young people being sent into battle, it was no wonder so many were so scared that they deserted their squad, hid, or found some way to avoid killing their fellow man. The story told in this film is of two similar people from opposing sides, as they just try to survive a war they didn't expect to be in. A German soldier and an English soldier find themselves in the same barn, attempting to escape the fray. They form an unlikely bond as they spend the night outside, leaving themselves out of the front lines.
Another film set back in the battle-ravaged era of the first World War, this story focuses on the women who went to work while the soldiers were sent to fight. Many of these jobs had to be given to women, because they weren't given opportunities in the military, and the war set many companies back in terms of their workforce. Sent to work on the railroad, one of these women find themselves in the unique position of becoming an engineer, a task never before occupied by a woman. Her ability to pioneer in this field made her unique, and despite the return to business as usual after the war, this was a special occasion, as she did her job better than many of her male predecessors. It was a beautiful film that captured the spirit of the brave women who did everything they could to keep their country running while the war was being fought.
The Drone and the Kid
Drone strikes have been a terrifying aspect of life for those in the Middle East for a number of years now, and while that's an incredibly scary concept, sometimes the imaginations of the young can take something like that and make it a bit more tolerable. This film really drives that home, as a young boy finds a drone, takes it to a secret hiding place, discovers that it works, and attempts to make friends with it. Given that itss a real drone, this doesn't go as well as the young man would like, unknowingly putting himself in danger. It's a rough concept that is lifted by the exuberance of that young man who delivers a great performance.
This is one of the odder entries into this festival, as most films submitted are relatively new. This one, by director Jason Ruscio, is actually from the mid 1990s and is even more odd because of how it tells its story. Meant to show how the young are the most affected by war, this World War II era film shows a young boy dealing with the effects of war. Completely silent and in black and white, it's beautiful, heartbreaking, and a bit tough to watch.
Every historical story can have an odd perspective when it comes to having it adapted. Sometimes, creators have Lincoln hunt vampires, and sometimes they have Kennedy and Nixon make their way to the White House thanks to an odd mystical entity that saves them from their deaths on a train. While this isn't historically accurate in any way, taking a different approach to the lives of Presidents Nixon and Kennedy is something that should be commended.