Recommended short: Open My Eyes
Chris, a devout fundamentalist Christian, struggles with his faith after the sudden death of his son.
Official Selection, LA Shorts 2015
Chris: Tony Carreiro
Writer/Director: Eli Daughdrill
Executive Producer: Mike S Ryan
Producers: Eli Daughdrill & Nancy Bevins
Cinematography: Charles Swanson
Music: Linus Lau
Editing: Adam Burr
The short’s IMDB page
My take: This well done 15 minute long short sends a strong, clear message with the help of a few straightforward metaphors. The main, and only, character struggles with the question of to what degree parents are responsible for their children’s action. And how do our teachings, values and lifestyle affect them. I particularly liked that this was done non-verbally. Not a single word was uttered aloud in the film. Even letters on screen were sparsely used. E.g. when the father thumbs through his well-read and heavily highlighted Bible you cannot actually read what section he is in.
The rest contains spoilers. It is unclear whether the son committed suicide or not, but it is strongly suggested. The two important texts showing up in the movie: the name and date on his tombstone and the words in his notebook: “My mind is poisoned”. (You can also read the names of the independent bands whose music he listened to on the posters that the father is tearing down from the wall of his room, but they just provide context for the son lives and not as essential to the plot.) I enjoyed the two symbolic actions in the first half of the movie, that gained their significance through the second half. Clearing a channel from the debris that the watered piled up clearly intended to suggest, that ones mind needs to be cleared to enable the flow of thoughts and emotions. Fixing the car, that didn’t start first, connects to this line of thought by expressing the idea that once your mind is cleared it needs to be maintained and needs a spark to get started again. All of the above is intended to question whether strong Christian values allow clear thinking and has enough sparks to make one keep going in such situation. You decide, as the film doesn’t do it for you.