“Leylak” is the third short film by young American directors Scott Aharoni and Dennis Latos. After “Bardo” (2016) and “The Untimely Gift” (2017), the two directors make a triumphant return with multiple nominations and the “Special Jury Mention” for a narrative short film at the Tribeca Film Festival.
“Leylak” is the story of Yusuf Çelik (Nadir Saribacak) and his daughter Renk Çelik (Isabella Haddock) and the loss they will face. The film opens with a 4 minute long shot, following Yusuf in his work as a grave digger, mask on the nose we quickly guess the context for which these graves are freshly dug, covid-19. In reality this scene looks more like a scene straight out of a war movie.
The main theme of Leylak is mourning. Yusuf, who seems so confident in his work, is totally helpless when it comes to deal with a personal and tragic situation. In front of his sister, he seems to face differents and quite contradictory emotions, the misplaced pride of a man who would like to be able to face the events, the fragility and the pain of a widower and also the guilt of a worker.
The interpretation of Nadir Saribacak is brilliant and is crucial in the success of the film, he transmits emotions with great accuracy and raw strength through his face, his voice and his gestures. With this film, Scott Aharoni and Dennis Latos pay a beautiful tribute to the workers who put themselves in danger during the Covid 19 pandemic, in a particularly affected city like New York. The character of Yusuf is the indirect spokesman of these workers, presented as someone sensitive, respectful, he allows to humanize the people behind these jobs often unpleasant, ungrateful and recently become even more dangerous because of Covid19.
The place of silence is major in this film, the most touching and captivating moments are the moments of silence between a father and his daughter, facing a tragic situation. In only 17 minutes, the two American directors convey vivid and powerful emotions, without falling into the ease of miserabilism and unnecessary emotionality.
“Leylak” is a superb short film, combining sensitivity and strength, it highlights workers who are often forgotten by most and deals with the theme of family loss in a very interesting way.
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