Thursday, March 4, 2021

And Then - 2021 SAAFF Short Film Review

The Short Film: And Then

The Director: Jenn Ravenna Tran

The Cast: Erika Ishii, Rina Hoshino

The Story: A short film about two women who meet and grow closer to each other through insomnia, exploring a new city, and art.

The Review:
I don't remember how I stumbled across Jenn Ravenna Tran and her work although I'm sure it must have been some randomness on Twitter that led me to wanting to watch this short film of hers. A few years ago, I spent some time in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Wakayama and absolutely fell in love with all of it so when I saw the images that were being posted, I was like I have to see this movie. When the lineup for the 2021 Seattle Asian American Film Festival was announced, I was so happy to see And Then in the Queer AF shorts block, it was finally time! Now, after all the wait, I am even more happy to say that I have watched this beautifully crafted film.

For me, this story is really special because it sort of mirrors my relationship with Japan and Tokyo specifically as I was there for a short time, fell in love with the place, and have always wanted to go back. Erika Ishii plays Mana, a woman from Seattle who travels to Tokyo to take a break from her life and ends up meeting Haru, played by Rina Hoshino, among the streets and shops of Asakusa, one of Tokyo's many unique neighborhoods. The two actors are perfect for the characters they play in this film and I really enjoyed the level of thought and emotion that they are able to convey with very little dialog. The characters are so real and are portrayed in a very natural way which made it easy to care about each of their journeys and the randomness of how their paths became interconnected.

Seeing bits and pieces of Tokyo that I visited, like the aforementioned Asakusa neighborhood and the famous Shibuya Crossing intersection, was amazing to see and the cinematography is just so beautiful, my only complaint is that I wanted to see more. The director's eye for framing shots and lighting them really shows off what the city has to offer and then even more so when the story takes a trip to the countryside. The visuals are gorgeous and colorful and textured and all of it makes the story that much more engaging. By the end, I was full on emotionally invested and inspired by every aspect of the storytelling.

Another thing I love about the story is that the characters exist as real people in a real world and they're allowed to just be human beings with no labels. I could go on about what this film means in the context of diversity and representation but for now I'll leave that for people who are probably smarter than I am. I'm just going to sit here being happy that I finally got to see the film. Just realized I haven't even mentioned yet that this is Jenn Ravenna Tran's directorial debut so she's really just getting started. Her next film is another short called Death's Diner that was filmed at the Double R Diner right here in the Pacific Northwest. A location that David Lynch and Twin Peaks fans are sure to recognize.

You can support the project on the Death's Diner Kickstarter Page.
You can also support Jenn Ravenna Tran on her Patreon Page.

The Verdict:
And Then is a beautifully crafted movie that says so much in such a short amount of time. This is a special film that I hope everyone, no matter who they are or where they come from, gets a chance to enjoy.

To keep track of all my reviews and festival coverage please go to: TwoOhSix at SAAFF 2021.

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