Year of Release: 2017
Starring: Pedro Sánchez, Michael Segal, Tania Mercader
Written by: Davide Melini
Directed by: Davide Melini
With five short films under his belt, Davide Melini has one more. Written and directed by Melini, Lion (2017) graced the international short film festival circuit, winning 128 awards to date. It’s tagline: “Evil has a new face!” does not do the film justice as it deals with the heavy subject matter of child abuse. Melini offers a creatively different way at viewing the somber topic of child abuse and neglect, one which will stay with the viewer long after.
Set in a cabin in the woods surrounded by falling snow, the viewer senses the vulnerability of isolation. When we hear the anguished cries of a child and the anger of her parents, we are helpless.
The camera focuses on the father, played by Michael Segal, who is an obvious drunk. He watches television, flipping through channels in a stupor, with emptied cans littered about. His wife, played by Tania Mercader, cleans in the kitchen, under her husband’s domineering thumb as well. The viewer searches the rooms for their child. This builds the audience’s anxiousness as it is one’s innate nature to care for children or those who cannot protect themselves.
True to its name, we see the lion. When it appears on screen, its majestic portrait is in stark contrast to the disheveled, unkempt parents. Somehow, Melini is able to get viewers to bypass any scrutiny of the lion to instead appreciate the creature, imaginatively shown in various stylizations including silhouette and minimalistic. Its strength is apparent, its calm demeanor and confidence are of no doubt. It proceeds to do what lions do. Nature can be cruel.
By the end of the twelve immersive minutes, we are left with a child whose fascination with lions proved to be more real than her parents could have ever dreamt.
At the heart of everyone, of every victim, is a lion.
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– By Christina Persaud