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DC Shorts: Yell FIRE not HELP

The 2013 DC Shorts Film Festival includes the option of viewing over 120 films out of the over 150 total count from one's own computer or certain mobile devices. After purchasing an online Indieflix pass, the DC Shorts Festival Films will be available to the viewer during the Festival period September 19-29.

In this third review of the upcoming DC Shorts Film Festival, the Dresser looks at Adam Sinclair's "Sanzaru (Diffusion of Responsibility)." This 15-minute quasi-docudrama made in Malaysia is based on the case of Kitty Gervase, a New York City student who was raped and murdered March 18, 1964 while 38 people aware of her cries for help did nothing.

The story of "Sanzaru" concerns four students tasked with a project based on Diffusion of Responsibility, a theory that was drawn from what happened to Gervase. Three of the students depict a current day example of people turning a cold shoulder to help others in an effort to settle on one anecdote that will complete their project. A side story is the girl-boy relationship between two of the students and how the young woman of this couple becomes a living example of what the students are studying.

What the Dresser found particularly interesting about this film was its blend of English and Malay dialogue. The students go back and forth seamlessly using both languages. English subtitles are provided.

Technically interesting is the occasional split screen that shows all four students within their own portion of the screen as if they are isolated and not sitting across a library table from each other. While the Dresser found the film very powerful, she felt it could have been tighter and thereby shorter.

In the impressionistic poem "The Distance from Brooklyn to Boston Takes Four Hours to Bridge as Long as the Bus Doesn't Burst into Flames" the collaborating authors Kevin McLellan and Sue Nacey work with chance and change in a ruleless landscape which seems to reflect Adam Sinclair's film where one of the characters also disappears into a crowded city and no one comes to her rescue. The long title of this poem reminds the Dresser that she has often heard if someone attacks you, yell fire not help. What resonates chillingly for the Dresser are the lines: "either everything is/ coincidence--or nothing is."


You still frequent the locality
......of of and and
you placed on layaway. This

.........repeated remapping
of borders between you and
necessity. How you've had to

......change your worn face
as if remembering yourself
.........from now backwards

or rather an attempt to. Repeat
......after me: irony is worn thin
like the skin inside your lip

......and either everything is
coincidence--or nothing is. And
......who are you, you

say, to make rules
.........when there are none.
......And there is no way

.........out of and--and
the strongest shape of you
that remains is the back of

.........your head as you
......into the crowd.

Kevin McLellan and Sue Nacey
from Roundtrip

Copyright © 2010 Kevin McLellan


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 15, 2013 3:46 PM.

The previous post in this blog was 2013 DC Shorts: Expansion of a Shrunken Head.

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