Rayla Zehtabchi won an Oscar for the short film Period. End of Sentence. She has teamed up with that short’s cinematographer, Sam A. Davis for the impactful Are You Still There?
On the list of most frustrating things that could happen on a given day, having a car that won’t start is definitely up there. Safa already has a lot on her mind, so when her battery dies in a parking lot, she is stuck, frustrated, and is given reason to confront more about her life than an unreliable automobile.
Initially, this short film looks like it will be a tense drama as a woman feels increasingly isolated as she waits for help. It is a case of a bad day getting progressively worse. Her phone battery slowly drains. Her mum is at work and cannot help her. She is harassed by the angry shop owner for blocking their parking space and the AAA cannot help her as she is not on her dad’s insurance.
This particular piece of news provokes a seemingly intense overreaction. After all, she could always get an Uber and return for the car another time. As her wait for a solution turns from minutes to hours, the reasons behind her reaction and unwillingness to abandon the car bubble to the surface.
Safa Tarifi delivers an excellent performance. A quiet performance that tells us so much even when saying very little. She peels back the layers of her character like an onion to reveal the true source of her tears. However instead of an onion, Safa’s emotional state has more in common with one of the donuts she eats while she waits. There is a hole at the centre of her heart. A heart that is also in need of a jumpstart.
This short is the perfect slow burn… or should that be slow ride? Davis & Zehtabchi understand that is about the journey, not the destination. Are You Still There? is proof that occasionally, the journey and destination are one and the same.
Director: Sam A. Davis & Rayka Zehtabchi
Stars: Sara Tarifi, Rima Haddad, Mardy Ma
Runtime: 15 minutes