– These films are definitely worth watching. Both stories deal with making very complex decisions and approach it from different sides. They encourage the viewers to immerse deeply into their world to feel the problems they talk about – says our reviewer, who writes about two short films: “I Promise You Paradise” and “The Silent Ones”, recognizing that such a combination of films gives space and contrast to fully reveal their subject matter.

Focus: Theme is a competition in which the organizers of the Lublin Film Festival paid special attention to the content of the film and the way in which the authors talk about the problems they selected. In total, viewers saw ten titles in three parts.

After a brutal incident, Eissa, a 17-year-old African immigrant in Egypt, fights against time to save his loved ones at all costs. This is the story told by the Egyptian film titled “I Promise You Paradise”, directed by Morad Mostafa. It is incredibly beautiful and extremely tragic, contrary to generally accepted ideas of storytelling. It leaves behind the conventional three-act structure, climax, resolution and transformation of the hero on his unique path.

Everything has already happened in this story. The acute phase of the main conflict is beyond the first scenes of the film, the hero has already changed and will remain unmoved throughout the entire story. The major decision has already been made, the changes and hesitations are in the past, and the hero’s journey is coming to an end.

Everything that happens on the screen is a consequence of events that we haven’t even seen. We only have to observe how the hero follows the decision made and implements it. He has already made his choice and he sticks to it and is unmoved.

Finding himself in a tragic situation after losing his friends, a 17-year-old man tries to save his wife and daughter from the hell of a foreign and hostile environment. And when it comes to the final moment, he finds out that the money they have is not enough for the three of them to escape. So he allows his wife and child to leave for a better life, while he stays in Egypt.

It may seem like the most important decision, the defining moment that the story is building towards, and the most important moment for the hero. However, in my opinion it is rather an illusion. I think the director made it clear throughout the story that Eissa knew and understood everything. He had already decided everything himself. He sacrificed himself for the good of his family, letting his wife and daughter go. He promised them paradise and tried to keep his promise.

A radically different approach to the issue of choices and decisions is offered by the Frenchman Basile Vuillemin in his short film “The Silent Ones”. It tells the story of Jorick, one of the five crew members of a small trawler. After four days without catching any fish, he faces a dilemma: should he return empty-handed or decide to poach in the forbidden area?

Before he can convince the crew, he makes the first of two important choices in the story – he decides to commit a crime. Our hero consciously takes responsibility for the consequences, putting the entire crew at risk. After a short fishing trip, the crew and the hero find the “sea Klondike”, hauling out full fishing nets. When they start gutting the fish, they discover the body of an unknown child.

The story takes a sharp turn in a completely unexpected direction. The ship goes silent and the crew faces a dilemma: What should they do? Where is the limit of humanity and how not to cross it?

The cruise participants are divided. On the one hand, they should report the incident as soon as possible, exposing themselves. They will likely receive a fine that is impossible for them to pay. They will lose their license for fishing in a restricted area and will be forced to release all fish. Part of the team decides to throw away the fish and report the situation to the coast guard. The others think differently. They think they should stop the catch and dispose of the body. They don’t see the point in reporting the matter. The child is dead, he doesn’t care, and the fishermen need money as they need to feed their own children.

Since most of the crew chose the first option, they begin to dispose of the fish in preparation for reporting the incident. And it is at this moment that the main character, Jorick, makes the second and final decision – seeing his colleagues throwing their earnings and the lives of their children into the sea in front of him, he suddenly breaks down and throws the body overboard.

After this incident, the crew does not express much dissatisfaction, most of the fishermen sit down next to Jorick and start gutting the fish. They obviously wanted it, but didn’t dare to make the decision. They needed someone to take on this responsibility. This someone turned out to be our hero.

“I Promise You Paradise” and “The Silent Ones”, in my opinion, this order of watching these films, as well as their juxtaposition, gives space and contrast to fully reveal their themes. Both stories deal with very complex choices. Approaching them from different angles, they encourage us, the viewers, to dive deep into their world to feel the characters’ problems.

As for the first film, it presents us with the fact of a decision that has already been made, showing its consequences. The second one tries to show how difficult choices are made, how the scale of consciousness works and how people decide to take responsibility for their actions.

These are very complex and ambiguous films, definitely worth watching. This is cinema that stays in our heads and will never go away, leaving its trace.

Yurii Boiko

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