Full disclosure: InReview was provided with a screener for the following film.
InReview is often sent screeners for short films currently making the rounds at film festivals and one of the most obvious traits each of these films have are their limitations. I’ve found it rare to find a short film that can tell a complete story in less than ten minutes, with the sweet spot being somewhere between 15 and 20 minutes.
Cengiz Akaygün’s “AYSHA” has a compelling premise, but it only accomplishes to present us with a single scene, which makes its tale feel considerably incomplete. It’s running time is also only about 11 minutes. It follows two young girls, the first being the titular Aysha (Jiyan Akaygün), who is rebellious and is living through a war in Syria in which her mother (Halima Ilter) tries to keep her in line. The dramatic tension comes from from acts of normal disobedience from Aysha during the worst of times.
I can’t help but draw parallels to “MOUSIE,” a short film that I reviewed last year that has similar themes of childhood innocence during trying times, although that told a more complete tale. Ilter has the most remarkable performance — she communicates this great subtle pain — while Akaygün and Ecem Türkmen, who plays Aysha’s sister, have average performances. The film mostly works as a whole, though I admit its direction could have been more focused and its storytelling could have been more economical — there are several moments where it feels like the film is just holding onto dead air hoping that it will enhance its dramatic tension to no avail.
The film still does present a decent scene, though I do admit it could be trimmed down some to make room for an expansion of this story. The film is limited by its one location, but I still think that there are ways it can be utilized to give more insight on who these characters are and what they are facing.
As a whole, I think this short film has potential — especially with Ilter’s character (I personally would prefer a version of this from her point of view) — but is far too brief both in length and limited in ambition to fully realize it in its current state.
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