Written and Directed by Leila Bartell.
Starring Cheryl Whitney, Pinakin I. Barot, and Daniel Ryves.
At Flickering Myth we’ve never been averse to showcasing new talent and often of course, fledgling film-makers cut their teeth in short films. Last week at the Curzon in Victoria, a new short was premièred, called Idira. Written and directed Leila Bartell, the film is a timely tale which tells the story of a young girl being kept as a slave.
On the surface, through ignorant eyes, one might say the notion of a young woman kept against her will as a live-in servant in modern day England, sounds far fetched. The sad reality of course, is that it is all too real a scenario. Idira is the tale of a slave (Cheryl Whitney), whose only escape is in recalling her happier times before being trapped in a life of subservience. Eventually, when she’s used and abused in the worst way, she strikes back.
The subject matter is dark and it is something people would rather turn a blind eye to sadly, but it’s handled sensitively. Furthermore, Bartell doesn’t merely treat this like a charity video/advert. The piece has a clear arc in its story and it’s beautifully shot. There’s some great cinematography from Richard White. It’s naturalistic, stark and cold, countering well with the warmer tones of the happier times that Idira recalls.
Sound is used effectively here too. There’s not a lot of music. The mundaneness of silence and the repetitious drone of certain sounds is important here as it portrays a life of hopeless and dreary repetition. When the music (Nia Burke) kicks in it does so with almost a pulse of its own as we build to the climactic moment.
As Idira, Cheryl Whitney gives a magnetic performance. She doesn’t say a word in the film but she says everything. It’s written on her face. We can see that in her eyes. Pinakin I. Barot as her captor makes for a grotesquely nonchalant ‘villain.’
In the end, Idira is a short which is svelte, emotional and insightful. Leila Bartell marks herself as not only a director with an artistic sensibility but one with a message. More than just dramatic re-enactment, Idira beyond the ultimate message, also tells an engaging story (which thus only acts to enforce that message).