Cinema is one of the few ways a door to the rest of the world is opened up to us. Other than actually travelling the world of course, if you can afford that.
I recently took a trip to China, by way of Release, the new short film written, directed and edited by Henry Liu (“Aphasia”).
This Drama tells the tale of Qing Ping, played by Taiwanese Actress Josephine A. Blankstein (“A One And A Two”, “Candy Rain”), who struggles to provide for her 6 year old son Shishi, portrayed by Marvin Wang.
Qing Ping works as an entertainer at a karaoke bar, an environment very different from the home she returns to late each night. The film opens with Qing Ping getting an unexpected visit at work from her former lover Lao Zhong, which was performed by Zhan Wang (“Emma And The Butt”).
Zhong is there to give her the toughest choice a mother could ever face, his paperwork is signed, soon he will be moving to America and he is offering to take Shishi with him.
This is a real dilemma, Qing Ping knows this will give Shishi a better life and he is Lao Zhong’s son too, which he is quick to point out. To further feed the fire, Zhong assures her that since his wife is going with him, Shishi would make their family complete.
As the story blossoms we see that while Zhong is Shishi’s father, the child truly belongs to Qing Ping. We see the patient, selfless way she takes care of her son.
One very unique scene reminded me of the movie Tully, when a broken stove causes Qing Ping to give the term “Hot Plate” a whole new meaning to feed the hungry little Shishi.
The look, feel and overall style of Release is of a high quality. From the first frame, when we follow Qing Ping down the hallway lined with neon lighting, it is clear that great care was taken by all the parents of this film.
Release is elegant, visual storytelling at its finest. Techniques such as a hidden jump cut and the tactful use of metaphor make Release a story well told.
This short is economical as well, the camera work is subtle and Henry Liu wrote a script that says so much with a few lines of dialogue and none of the words are wasted.
With a total run time of just over 20 minutes, I was impressed with how quick the watching experience was. It did not feel like it was 20 minutes. Henry Liu has not made a feature length film yet, but I have a strong feeling that will change, because Release is a calling card any filmmaker would be happy to hand out.
You may be asking…. (this is a play on words I cannot resist)…. what about the release of Release? The short is in the middle of a festival run now.
If you look for it on IMDB it is under the Chinese translation of the title, Fang Sheng. Release had its World Premier at the Palm Springs International Shortfest, it screened at LA Shorts International Film Fest and recently won the Honorary Achievement in Directing Award at the Independent Film Showcase.
If you get a chance to see this short, and you enjoy Dramas, Release is a journey worth taking.
Curt Wiser is the Writer/Director of short films and the suspense feature Cam-Girl. As a filmmaker he is happy to give a kind word about other films and share them with the rest of the world.