Big Touch: Review. By Trent Neely.
This short film follows a large African woman named Judy (Astra Marie Varando) who encounters a Mother (Carly Stewart) and Daughter (Arabella Frost) while riding an elevator in a parking garage. Curious, the daughter reaches out to Judy but is stopped by the mother. Soon after Judy sees a Tiny Man (Raymond Ejiofor) experiencing a moment of distress though the cause is unknown. They share an embrace then go their separate ways. Although this shared moment is brief, the impact of this meeting is shown to be profound for both of them.
What makes this film remarkable is how much impact it manages to achieve despite a complete lack of dialogue and a runtime that is less than three minutes including credits. The film proceeds almost like a ballet performance as the only sound present in the film comes from Pablo Casal’s arrangement of “Song of the Birds”. This piece serves as the foundation of the whole film. Director/writer/editor Christopher Tenzis finds a tempo to cut the film that somehow perfectly compliments the music yet also perfectly stands as its own piece of work.
Since the film’s audio landscape is so minimalist, the visual components of the film are on full display. Director of Photography Lim Teck Siang and Tenzis make sure each frame fully pops, using wide shots to establish space and orientation, but beautifully constructed close-ups for the emotional moments such as Judy and Tiny Man’s embrace. Helping bring these visuals to life are vibrant costumes which help highlight the performers and camera movement.
The film’s emphasis on visuals also allows for a wide variety interpretation of the themes and the subtext in question. Is the film a statement on race in that the Mother character (who is white) stops her daughter from reaching out to Judy while the Tiny Man (who is of African decent) finds comfort in Judy? Or, is the film making a much broader statement that it is part of the social contract to reach out and positively impact our fellow man whenever possible, even in a parking garage? These suppositions and many more seem entirely possible.
If you want to see a film that fully utilizes all filmmaking tools at one’s disposal, crafting beautiful and memorable images, striking visual performances, and posits interesting themes for viewers to meditate on, seek out this film.
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