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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Mature Azerbaijani Short "Aftermath" Talks Grief, Life, and Beyond

"AFTERMATH" (2014)
Genre: Drama
Length- 8:08
Company: Angry Student Productions
Website: Official YouTube

Two siblings attempt to cope with the deaths of their parents.  While the sister (Gizem Aybike Sahin) appears to be in control and, while grieving, she is trying to move on, the brother (Berkan Uygun) has lost his faith in religion and refuses to accept a life without his mother and father.

It's up to them to either create a new life out of the ashes or collapse under the weight of their emotions.

A TIME FOR MOURNING

This little film comes with English subtitles from Azerbaijan, where its title is “Akibet”.  Written and directed by Angry Student Productions founder Tofic Rzayev, this short film is a meditation on death and, peripherally, what it means to be alive -- do we live for other people and, when those people are gone, do we then live for a higher power?

It's certainly a weighty topic that transcends culture and time – which makes it all the more impressive that it's conveyed effectively over the course of an eight minute movie.

In today's world, rapid cutting is the name of the game, but Rzayev smartly takes a different approach entirely.  It takes tremendous confidence as a filmmaker to trust in your imagery enough to not have to cut rapidly to hold an audience's attention span, but add on the smart handheld camera and “You are there” documentarian editing and you have a truly mature cinematic outing that packs a surprising emotional punch.

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 2.5 / 5.  Rzayev's script is minimalist, and a good deal of it is simply watching our main characters as they either lay around, stand around, or bicker.  The dialogue is effective as subtitled.
Directing: 3.5 / 5.  Considering how intimate the film is, Rzayev does a good job at keeping the film visually interesting.  I particularly enjoyed the finale, where Uygun walks into the blurry darkness, a black silhouette among blobs of unfocused street lights.
Editing: 4 / 5.  The look of the film is fantastic.  The lighting is soft and the coloring is muted, bringing the desolate feeling of loss to a visual form.
Sound/Music: 3 / 5.  Gergo Elekes' score matches the imagery: soft, muted, sparse, beautiful, and sad.  I have to limit the score here to a 3 however because the sound quality of the film, excluding the music, was very low.  It sounded like it was being recorded off the camera's internal microphone, and as a result everything had an echo.
Acting: 3 / 5.  Sahin was credible and even touching in her performance.  Uygun was competent when it came to nonverbal acting, but all of his lines are delivered in a nearly monotone voice, spoken too fast, with each sentence separated by dead air.

Final Grade: 3.2 / 5.

Don't forget to check out "Aftermath" and follow writer/director Tofic Rzayev on Facebook!



Thanks for reading! I'm a screenwriter and script consultant. Most recently, I've worked with LMC Productions and Mad Antz Films in Australia. I helped mold Goodybag Productions' award winning screenplay "The Teacher" and Michael Maguire's feature length script "The Wolfpack", which is still in development.

Check out my blog and let's get in touch!