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HollyShorts 2016: Coming of Age Block – Film Reviews

Fanbase Press Contributor Russ Pirozek reviews several of the films from the HollyShorts 2016 Coming of Age Block.

Mr. Gaspacho

Sometimes, a friend is all that you need to get through your life, especially when you’re a young woman. This French film focuses on a young woman who has to deal with growing up, dealing with her own issues, and trying to find love aided only by two friends: her best friend from school and a small doll named Mr. Gaspacho that, in her mind, lives and breathes. Mr. Gaspacho helps her through her life, giving her advice, telling her the realities of life, and eating a lot of food.

It’s a touching tale of growing up, needing someone to be there for you, and finding it in the most unlikely of places.

Written and directed by Guillaume Tordjman and starring Zoe Heran, Patrrick Timsit, and Nathanael Maini among others, this is a wonderful and silly story that mixes live action with stop motion in a wonderful way.

Across (De Overkant)

A story set in the olden days of the 1960s in the Netherlands, Across focuses on Freek, a young poet who parties, has a good time, and generally takes the good-time ways of young adulthood and continues to honor that tradition. While he and his friends have the time of their lives, Freek begins find himself constricted by the morals imparted by past generations, but also his budding desire for romance and fun.

Based on the real life of Freek de Jonge, the story was written by Marnix Ruben. It also stars Nick Golterman, Jonas Vermeulen, Tim Taveirne, and Yentl Schieman among a large cast.


A young boy with signs of OCD finds his way through life, battling his compulsions in New York City. He moves through life doing everything he can to battle his own demons and live a life that is clean and fulfilling. Despite that, the young man moves through his day, until the smallest event in his life makes all the difference.

It’s a touching take on the struggles of those with obsessive compulsive disorder and of a young boy doing all he can to just get through life while dealing with the things that plague him.

Starring Marquise Neal and directed by Gabriel Wilson, Clean is a beautiful short film that shows real life and the challenges it has.


Young adulthood is a crazy thing, especially when there are some serious things going on under the surface. That goes double when your youth is also part of an ongoing murder investigation. Crush follows Anelise, a young woman whose best friends are now missing after a terrifying and horrific event changes their lives forever. The day after a body is found, Anelise has to deal with her missing friends, their potential crime, and the fact that the boy she likes might be a part of it all.

Written and directed by Lara Kose and starring Tanika Douglas, this is a great story about growing up in more ways than one.

Faceless, But Remembered

There are so may people whose bodies betray them, and they find themselves in need of help in the form of organ transplants. This life is familiar to Camp, a young man who has just gone through the life-changing event of having a kidney transplant, and the life that now comes with having someone’s body part inside your own. While out for snacks at a party, Camp meets Anna, a young cashier who sends him on a path to second guess his second chance at life, especially when his uncle, a fellow kidney transplant recipient, gets himself involved.

This was a tough one to watch, as there was a little bit of gore involved, but also some really fantastic sequences. The acting was really great as well, and it had a lot of heart, helping to recognize the powerful and painful lives of organ recipients and the importance of organ donation.

Written and directed by Shelby Baldock, it stars Ryan Caraway, Douglas Dickerman, Taylor Own, and Btesy Zajko.


Grace follows the eponymous young girl in a journey through her day, her life, and the things she’ll go through in the future. Narrated by Grace’s mother, it’s a moving piece that shows the powerful nature of parenthood, growing up, and finding your way throughout the winding roads of life.

One of the films in the Coming Of Age block of films at HollyShorts this year, it really shows off the unique powers of film as Grace moves and empowers the viewer, even with only narrative dialogue.

Directed and narrated by Kristin Fairweather, this was one of the more beautiful pieces at this year’s festival.

Shoshannah’s Skateboard

Growing up Orthodox can be tough for young women, due to the traditions and rules of the community that provide a great benefit, but it can also be restricting for some. One that finds such restrictions is Shoshannah, a young woman growing up Orthodox, who finds her passion in skateboarding, despite it being looked down upon by her Orthodox Rabbi and her sister.

But her goal to become a skateboard star on YouTube is one that she can’t let go of, and with the help of a new friend, she goes out to achieve her goals.

Written, directed by, and starring Kate Ascott Evans, the film also stars Nili Rain Segal and Riley Miner

Snake Bite

Four young boys find themselves in a precarious position when their camp adventures turn terrifying as one of the boys comes face to face with a dangerous snake. When one of the boys is bitten by one of the poisonous creatures, he and his friends have only a few minutes to make a decision that will change their lives forever.

Written by Tim Hyten and Nick Sherman and directed by Hyten, this poignant short film stars Luke Darga, Andrew Fox, Holden Giyette, and Gabe White.

That Day

Set during the time between the death of her father but prior to his burial, the story of That Day focuses on Mishelle, a young woman who has to deal with the grief of losing a loved one, including having to subject themselves to the sympathies of others who don’t exactly find themselves too sympathetic to the real needs of the person who just lost someone special. Mishelle finds herself grieving in her own way, finding solace in the company of a friend, enjoying life outside the scope of the loss.

Losing a parent is tough, but this shows the many ways in which that grief can be assisted, and the ways that people treat those who have lost.

Directed by Stephanie Ard and starring Chloe Clark, Heather Kafka, and Benjamin Wadsworth, this is a heartbreaking tale of those who have loved and lost and what happens next.


Being young and gay can become a living nightmare for young adults who don’t know or understand their feelings. It can be even more difficult with family who lack that same understanding and compassion. Kevin, being rejected by his family after coming out, finds himself in a very tough situation, battling his own thoughts and struggling with a major choice. When a friend arrives unexpectedly, Kevin’s world view is shifted by the love of those around him.

Written by Evan Dollard, directed by Chris Folkens, and starring Travis Van Winkle, Chris Ellis, and JoAnn Willette, this story is heartbreaking and very powerful.

Russ Pirozek, Fanbase Press Contributor



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