I turned up to the Vancouver Women in Film Festival on its second night, the day after International Women’s Day. The event took place at the Vancity Theatre in Downtown Vancouver. The theater itself is large and bold, its lobby decorated modestly in a fashion to suit mingling, not herd viewers through rows of loud advertisements. I took my seat on the balcony and sat down. My only expectations were to be prepared for works of all quality. The short films I viewed ranged from deranged mysteries to science fiction and even dark comedy. There was however, one film in particular which stuck with me throughout the weekend – Face It.
Face It directed by Sharyn Paul Brusie and starring Rhode Island actress and comedian Birdie Googins (Aka “The Marden’s lady”). This film follows the reflection and inner monologue of a middle-aged woman. There were many elements of this film contributing to making it my favorite of the weekend. Birdie Googins runs the audience through a stunning gambit of emotions in such a short time. The combination of her performance, the narrated inner monologue, and the seamless editing transform this simple concept into true art. Face it is a film with palpable emotion.
The brutal unwavering honesty of the character creates an instant connection with the audience. The viewer sees only the subject, and hears nothing but its voice; the effect of which only strengthens that bond. As the film progresses the character delves into herself further, revealing raw and unhindered emotion.
The unnamed character carries on in her mind, acting out the qualities she wishes to possess. She takes us through memories and desires, a yearning for better years, and wears the embarrassment of an overwhelming hot flash at the supermarket so convincing, you blush in your seat.
What makes this short film truly incredible is the ease at which the viewer slips into the mind of the character. You lie in your seat and just relate to this character. Perhaps not through experience or empathy, but through an unwavering belief of what you see and hear. What this film achieves is truly the feeling of walking a mile in another’s shoes. You care for this woman, because you understand her. Not only do you hear her thoughts but also through an extremely clever use of angles, you view both the character and her reflection. She shows every emotion. I keep asking myself, “How did I come to feel so much for this stranger with whom I have nothing in common with?
There is something recognizable to all of us in this film. It may not be immediate or obvious but what we recognize is not only meant to entertain but to convey real emotion and curiosity.