"She Lives" by Khamanna Iskandarova

Contest: Short Film (Nov. 2011)

Contest Scores
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Comments Made During the Contest

Ayal Pinkus (Level 5)

How refreshing to see a non-U.S. production for a change! Non-U.S. actors, a non-U.S. locale, a non-U.S. conflict.

I LOVED it!

I liked the visual production values, loved looking at the imagery. Really wonderful job.

Very good staging/framing of the images. Lighting felt very natural and also made it a pleasure to look at the film.

One small thing; the voice overs kept coming from my right ear? Would it be an idea to provide that in stereo? Or at least to adjust the balance so the sound isn't so sharp? I found it unpleasant to listen to that sharp sound coming into one ear... Hopefully that can still be fixed in post-production.

Also the 20 seconds or so of the short there is nothing, no rolling titles, no sound, just a black screen. Perhaps fade out the rolling titles in a more gentle way...

A very sweet story, a man accepts his daughter, apparently in a culture where daughters are not accepted.

Bill Clar (Level 5)

Script: A moving and powerful desire to conform for the sake of family.

Acting: Orhan is terrific. I love to hate him.

Halid is monotone. No inflection at all.

Cinematography: I like it. The colors pop and there's even a bit of lens flare.

Good lighting. No problems discerning facial features. Probably attributed to the quality of the camera and its low light capabilities.

Sound: The voices sound flat, especially the voice over. Was it recorded with a handheld mic?

Editing: No problems.

Score: I love the opening score.

Direction: Impressive use of subtitles and voice over. It's like two worlds uniting.

Orhan's line "I'd kill you", deserves a closeup. It's such an intense line.

The fade to black at 2:19 runs a bit long.

The creator scene is nothing but subtitles. Give us something. Hatira staring into the sun or moon perhaps.

Bill Sarre (Level 5)

This is my first film review and to be honest anybody who has written a script and seen it into production gets my respect.

On balance, i thought the script more powerful than the film. Examples of lost impact, for me, included the scene in the kitchen where a bottle was meant to smash and the child scream. On film they didn't - i think. Others include the proposed VO with a female giggling down the phone, again to me more powerful than the scene of the man in the restaurant. Finally, sirens are meant to blare once she takes the pills. All these add to the tension for me and were worthy in the script.

i liked the fly on the wall style of film. it had a sense of reality, you know the kind of short documentaries than are produced. Yet this had a major twist with the man returning.

His return, and conversion is a little difficult to buy into, probably because it is set up as a documentary, but it serves as a nice way of illustrating the differences.


well done and all the best

Brian Wind (Level 5)

Well, I know you were rushing to finish this up and get it entered in time and I congratulate you for beating the clock and getting it in. That being said, this still needs some polish and I think you are probably aware of that.

The acting was mediocre for me. Some of the locations look fantastic on film, others look terrible like no attention at all was given to the cluttered and shabby looking background. The score doesn't seem to fit the film for me.

The story here is very bizarre to me. A girl dies and asks to come back as a man to please her father. I don't know.... It's quite peculiar and certainly unique.

Byron Matthews (Level 5)

Just a disclaimer: I didn't have a chance to read the script for this short. There were a few moments when the screen action would freeze for about four seconds before it would resume again. Now it could be my computer and/or internet connection. I'm not gonna lie but the acting wasn't the greatest. I'm not expecting an Oscar performance, but I never got a sense that they (mother and younger daughter) were of her father when they came into the house. Or that the young girl was so depressed with her life. In the kitchen scene where he knocks over the empty bottle then catches it, was that done on purpose? I liked the subtitles with the voice over, but the dialogue from the actors seemed like it was on a delay. The actor would speak then we would hear their words a fraction of a second later.

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus)

I like the quality of the filming and the juxtaposition between the dialogue and the VO. It was a fascinating setting too and the mother is very beautiful! Very interesting music which sets the scene very well.

Clever the way you use the close-up of the ring to indicate a wealthy marriage.

I didn't feel that Hatira's mood was sufficiently desperate to make her suicidal.

I found the blank screen with the creator subtitle didn't work well for me - maybe a misty sky or swirling clouds or something would be more atmospheric?

I remember being a little confused by the script - trying to work out just what happened - and was still confused watching the film.

There were some lovely visual moments, though.

Chris Keaton (Level 5)

Did Khamanna mess up her lines?

I totally did not like the VO. I don't think a mix of VO and dialog works in this piece. I would say go straight VO and don't change the voices, because at heart she is still a she.

Chris Messineo (Founder)

SCRIPT: I liked this script when I first read it and when I reread it. It's a powerful story.

PERFORMANCES: I like the use of subtitles here, but even though the actors are speaking in another language, the performance still feel a little stiff to me.

CINEMATOGRAPHY: The shots don't feel particularly lit or composed, although I do like the dutch angle in the living room.

SOUND: The sound is pretty rough. It sounds like it was recored from the camera mic and it is impossible to get clean and crisp sound that way.

EDITING: The editing is nice and tight for the most part, but there are awkward moments where the video freezes.

SCORE: The music helps set the location and tone, but it also ends abruptly.

DIRECTION: I thought you did a good job for one of your first short films. It shows promise, I think you just need to concentrate a bit more on lighting, sound, and composition.

OVERALL: I enjoyed this, it's just a little rough around the edges. But the more you shoot the better you will get, so keep at it. Lastly, not a big deal, but on Vimeo you can choose the still image that will represent your film and you should definitely choose another shot.

Chris Westfield (Level 3)

Some audio editing issues here and there, phantom audio cutting in and out and transitioning abruptly. Your freeze frames were distracting and didn't work for me. The music cutting in and out was also distracting.

It's an intriguing story but I believe it's a lot for such a short run time. Good job overall.

Christopher Pedersen Cook (Level 3)

I really liked the angle on a few shots, such as when he she is passed out in the couch. And I thought it was a powerful moment when the camera freezes on the little girl while her father verbally abuses her, and her comment afterwards is also powerful. However, the editing, especially the sound mixing, is too uneven. The volume and proximity varies widely. I had to go back a few times to make sure I had the information correctly. And this is especially the case at the big turning point in the story, which hurts the clarity of the story-telling. A powerful story and concept, that I felt would have required smoother technical work to be successfully translated on-screen.

David M Troop (Level 5)

I was on the fence about She Lives.
While I appreciate all the hard work done by its writer, director, and star, it still left me feel flat.

THE SCRIPT was confusing. When Hatira returns to Earth as Halid to live as a man, is the spirit of Hatira living in Halid's body? Or did Hatira change into a man? How does Hatira's mother know Halid is her daughter? How does Halid have a wife and daughter he has never met?

THE ACTING was a little stiff. The voice overs were lifeless. Khamanna Iskandarova was good as the mother.

THE SCORE was fine and sounded authentic.

THE DIRECTING by Iskandarova was good. I wished she could have pulled more emotion from her actors. This should have been a very emotional and inspiring film.
There were some shots that used freeze frame needlessly.

THE EDITING was a little off in spots.

THE SOUND was inconsistent. Sometimes loud, sometimes muffled, sometimes it echoed, once or twice it was clear.

OVERALL it was a GOOD job by everyone involved.

After seeing the film, I read the thread dealing with the filming of She Lives.
I admire Khamanna Iskandarova for flying to India with her script and camera and taking on the project almost single-handedly. A great first effort. STANDING APPLAUSE.

David Serra (Level 4)

Interesting, the concept intrigues me however the story could be a little shorter. Still it is an interesting concept, though I'm not sure if everyone will catch onto the meanings.

Overall, Good

Dawn Calvin (Level 5)

I really like the message here. I respect it and admire it. I thought the filming was good and the music and location - perfect.

I stuck with the script up until she killed herself but came back as a man. It lost me there, even though I followed it, I was a bit dissapointed with that delivery.


This is my favorite so far. Good luck!

Debra Johnson (Level 3)

Very powerful message here. I like it very much. The use of subtitles is awesome. The acting was good. Believable. The storyline is strong. Only one comment - I thought the title stayed on the screen too long. Other than that, very good.

Denise Jewell (Level 5)

So much going on here, it feels like almost too much for a short film. But I love the filming - and him coming back to the same park bench - the look of the whole thing is beautiful. I'm just confused by the details of her coming back and it seems like she/he is actually in a new universe, rather than a future time. Lots to think about, but I really like the overall theme and the way things "come back". Him having a daughter that he adores is perfect.

I've read the script now and the story is clearer. That said, the film needs more of him sort of discovering who he is - I completely understand that when I read it. Not sure what is needed to make it more clear in the film.

Still - this is beautiful and such a heart wrenching theme, yet you sort of redeem it in the end.

Donnetta Williams (Level 3)

Overall the plot wasn't weak. The characters didn't portray a strong connection to bring the film to life. I enjoyed the plot and what it was trying to convey to the audience per the reference of the story line.

Elias Farnum (Level 5)

Did the credits cut off at the end? Otherwise this is very good, far better with the sound. I notice a cool stereo effect has the voice over coming from the right channel, cool.

The script has come to life,(I reread my original script comments) no confusion at all now. None.

The camerawork was steady, I like the freeze framing, and different cuts used.

This was really very good work, and has impact.

Erich VonHeeder (Level 4)

I love this story...really touching.
I know that there were some sound issues...and freezing of the picture...but you know what? I found it to be kind of cool. There was a certain hesitancy, a certain disjointed and dreamlike quality to it. It enhanced the story for me in a lot of ways. Good job.

Faith Friese Nelson (Level 5)

I like the music used throughout the film. Good visuals between the two lifestyles.

Felipe D. Machado (Level 4)

The use of voice over in this seems to be a way to fix problems with the narrative rather than add to it. Overall it is a pretty messy film and goes all over the place looking for a story.

I found myself rolling my eyes at some forced conflict and cliche moments like the suicide. I guess my best advice would be to keep watching short films and see where they work and where they don't. It will help you get better each time.

Gary Rademan (Level 5)

The scripts helped in understanding this short film.

The potential for SHE LIVES is great based on the footage and scripts. Done in all VO, it set an eerie inner dialogue with the character. The instincts on it were good. Just needs a polish.

Greg Tonnon (Level 5)

The title is interesting and thought provoking, good choice. The story is fine but I'm not sure how the friend knew to call her and tell her to sit the party out if her husband was not coming. How did she know? He had just called. Was it the friend who was with the husband? The camera work is mostly good (titles flash briefly at the end before the they roll). The acting is mostly good but when the father is supposed to be angry, he gently pushes the glass bottle off the table. Since they were in fear of him, that should be more violent. Perhaps he throws the glass angrily and it shatters or he hits it against the edge of table and threatens them with the jagged edge. The sound seems to be a little uneven. It is loud some times but muffled at others.

Heidtmann Oppong (Level 4)

Cool! Quite didn't get the full story but i well know that the story circles around Hatira and Suraya, who both never found true love as in someone who would appreciate them. i don't know but i guess that's that, isn't it.

Anyway it's okay, nice video too!

Jeannie Sconzo (Level 5)

The story itself was strong, original and interesting.

However, the film had problems with audio. I kept finding myself adjusting the volume. Also, the camera work needed improvement, particularly when the lead was first shown as a male at the table. The lead woman was very beautiful, but I didn't get enough emotion from her. I wanted to see her in distress before the suicide.

JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator)

Audio: It kept jumping around from my left speaker to my right. Was that on purpose?

Dialogue: I think it was too on the nose. I wish there was more subtext.

Direction: I loved it. At first I thought there was something with my wireless when the freeze-frame came, but when I realized it was done on purpose, I thought that was done really well. The creator part was done well too. Just a white screen with dialogue. Thought that was really creative.

Music: I thought it was original. Not the boring piano keys. I did think it was oddly placed at times but overall, I liked it.

OVERALL: This was pretty good. I can't wait to see your next work.

John Padgett (Level 2)

The audio was not very good. It distracted me at times. Also, the foreign language distracted me as well.

Acting was not great. Did not sell the story.

Honestly, I was too distracted to really notice the story... It did not intrigue me at least.

The video quality and color grading seemed cheap. But if all you have is iMovie, I guess that's ok.

Overall: Poor. Sorry, too many distractions...

Kathleen Foley (Level 1)

I thought the story was Extremely boring. The characters had no personality - they were very drab and lifeless so it rather surprised me with a title of SHE LIVES. I was waiting for some sort of "action" to take place or a heart lifting moment but there wasn't anything. Also, it was rather confusing at the end, with the pill taking and then she turns into a man meeting up with the woman's mother in the park. I think that if the story concentrated around the little girl and the relationship with her father it would have been a lot better. The sound was not of good quality and the subtitles need to go.

Kirk White (Level 5)

I'm a total sucker for stories like this! I think this could (and should) be expanded into a feature. I'm curious as to the development...there are a few changes from the script in this (could have been production necessities) and I actually think the script is a bit stronger than the finished film--the creator scene READS better than it actually comes off. it gets a little clunky once She comes back as a man...I get it, what's going on but it was a little hard to follow at first...I think if you expand this, you can really focus on the transition and adjustment to living as a man first before you get to the central conflict.

good potential!

Kisha King (Level 4)

As a full length movie (90-120 minutes) I could maybe understand some of the things that are going on. In a 05:12 minute movie it seem to be to much going on. It is just so many things happening I really couldn't get a good grasp on film.

I wish the film could have been on two or three of the issues in this story. I think there is just to many issues going on in five minutes.

KP Mackie (Level 5)

A triple threat! Producer-Director-Actor.
The subtitles work. All unnecessary dialogue is omitted and the words read fast. The music is strong and interesting. With the dialogue-heavy short, the score adds texture.
The shot length seems just right. Noticed a couple times where there wasn't a clear view of the actors. Father's head disappears and he blocks Mother in the scene with the powerful line, "I'd kill you. No one needs girls." (The girl playing Young Hatira, Aliya, did a terrific job. She really looked scared in that scene.) When Halid picks up his daughter at the end, they don't stay visible in the frame the entire time.
Cinematography was consistent. Color toned down perfectly to fit the mood.
Nice job with difficult subject matter. Congratulations.

Kyle Patrick Johnson (Level 5)

The script, although slightly confusing on a first read-through, is a really interesting foray into how life is perceived differently by men and women. I'm not sure how much cultural aspects play into the story, but I suspect the characters are Middle Eastern by thematic choice. I think the film version is easier to follow than the script.

The sets, costumes, and locations are excellent. The change from poor neighborhood to upper class home is striking.

The sound is sporadic, however. Some lines are too soft to be heard. I also wish some of the acting and voice acting were more emotional. Unfortunately, I think these drawbacks stop this film from being as powerful as it should be.

Lee Lyons (Level 2)

i just didn't care for this. I didn't like the music. The pacing was nonexistent. I think the story is interesting I just don't feel like it's told with any dramatic flourish. It just kind of happens in front of you and then that's all you get. The monotone voice over doesn't help matters any. I do feel like there was a way to make this movie really good. I'm just not sold on this version.

Liri Navon (Level 1)

Hard to concentrate because the sound is not clear. Sometimes the volume is too low, sometimes they speak rather loudly, and not everything is in sync, which makes it difficult to follow, or at least, I find it difficult to follow. The idea of the film might have been nicer if the execution was planned more carefully.

Margaret Ricke (Level 5)

Khamanna - where did you film this? It doesn't look like Texas to me. I know they paint the bottoms of trees in Russia, but I really thought you lived in Houston, and I don't know where else they do that to trees...

The acting is good. Especially the mom. She's beautiful, too.

You mentioned in a thread that this film was rushed. It does feel that way, but it's still good and has a lot of potential. I'd actually
like to see it longer. As a woman, I'd say there's a lot more to cover. The basic story could be turned into a feature, in fact. It could go so many, many different directions... Comedy. Horror. Drama. And so on.

The resolution is good, but the sound is disjointed. It's obvious that various audio clips were spliced together because there are absolutely dead silences between some of them. You might want to record a baseline audio to run in the background - something you could nest the other clips on top of that would tie them together. There are hundreds of free sound tracks to choose from if you google them. It's putsy to go through them, but they can be a god-send.

Nice work, Lady.

Marnie Mitchell Lister (Level 5)

I thought this was a great effort Khamanna. I know you were rushing to get it done and I'd really like to watch it again after you've had more time to work on the sound and editing. I loved the bits of ethnic music you put in there.

Great work!!

Martin Jensen (Level 5)

There are some odd audio editing blips. The dialogue doesn't quite sync up properly.

Between the shots at 1:59 and 2:00 the aspect ratio changes. It changes another few times after that. Maybe it happened before but that was the first time I noticed it.

Some shots are really good, but many of them are weirdly framed. I'm not sure if this was intentional or not, but it's quite distracting.

I liked it, but it just didn't feel as polished as it could have been.

Martin Lancaster (Level 4)

Congrats on getting this in before the deadline. This is obviously a work in progress and I have to admit I found it very hard to follow due to some distracting technical glitches. Some of the dialogue is only in the right channel, in places it feels awkwardly chopped up, the frame size changes at the 2 minute mark, certain freezes on characters look like rendering problems.

The story itself has promise and the film has an interesting look, almost documentary style in places, but it needs more time in the editing room to be really effective.

Whatever you do, don't give up on it. All the material is there and a good edit can do wonders.

Mike Senkpiel (Level 4)

Script:
I'm a bit confused at the mechanics of the reincarnation here, but I really like what I think this script is trying to say.

Performances:
These were surprisingly good for what I suspect are not full-time actors. Khamanna was a natural as the mother.

Cinematography:
This was also surprisingly good, considering no cinamatographer was credited. The lighting was natural and consistent. Some of the shots did not have ideal composistion, but mostly, this was very nice.

Sound:
This could use some more editing. It was inconsistent in volume and quality - but easily fixable.

Editing:
There were some spots where the video froze and the sound cut in or out. Also the credits flash for a split second before they roll. I assume that since no editor is credited, this is a case of someone learning the software - and in that case, the editing was quite good.

Score:
I was not fond of this. It was too repetitive. I think a Quran or Naat recitation from a female would have been more effective - but I am not sure if this would be considered inappropriate or inflamitory.

Direction:
I am really amazed at what you have accomplished here. I hope that you continue to write and produce films as you have a truly original vision that I hope you continue to share with the world.

Olga Tremaine (Level 5)

This movie feels like a documentary and makes it appear like a true story.
I like the music - it creates atmosphere and theme.
The acting is pretty good, especially the first scene with the mother and the daughter at home talking to their dad.
My only siggestion is to even out the sound throughout. You use the voice over, the dialogue and narration, they are a bit off: some phrases are too quiet, some are too loud.
I like the use of the foreign language, it makes the movie appear 100% authentic.

Very interesting work. The story is complex, it's amazing you've covered it in only 5 minutes.

I think this one stands out.

Paul De Vrijer (Level 5)

00:00
Nice titles, but they last too long.

00:30
Odd odd camera direction and quality. Very home video-ish. Audio is quite strangled too. Thank god for subtitles.

00:44
Suddenly the borders change. Bad editing.

01:00
Weird weird, did the bottle fall intentionally? Why does the image stop for a second?

01:21
Sudden shift in time. No new card? Anyways, loads of audio problems. Weird jumps in quality too. I get that she phones someone.

02:12
Out of focus shots.

03:00
Too many problems here. Loads of jumps. Unsteady shots. Unfocussed. Audio problems keep coming up.

03:30
Weird sudden zoom. Nothing in shot.

04:45
sudden jump of crew/cast.

Overall:
Okay, so I really like the theme and the writing. I just think this movie doesnt do it much justice. The direction isnt that strong, but I think the true problem comes from the editing. Many shots are just badly edited and the audio is all over the place. I think it's wise to take in a more specialised editor. Let him take a look at the same material. Could even be done over the internet.
Good luck.

Paul Williams (Level 5)

My preamble: For the first time, I produced and directed a short-film this year, so now I approach the reviewing process with a new perspective. I never thought it was easy, but now I know it's not.

Hi Khamanna,

This is a very bittersweet story. The theme and message is clear.

The editing appears a little jerky and this could flow a little better in spots.

The aspect ratio appears to change in certain spots.

The narration felt distant and hollow, but it's not a hard fix.

Good.

Pete Barry (Level 5)

From your comments on the discussion board, I gather that you know this needs a little work. It's definitely got good points, but there's room for improvement.

The basic elements - audio, especially, but also lighting and editing, could use tightening. The dialogue is garbled, and the choice to use subtitles is a good one - you could almost save the whole audio track by dumping all the voices, and going with pure narration. The flow of scenes was a little difficult to follow; it was hard to keep track of who was who, especially since the protagonist is not only growing up but switching bodies. That could be a flaw in the script or the editing. The scene in the apartment goes on a bit long, especially since most of the action includes one woman on the phone.

One of the successes of the piece is that while I couldn't understand a lot of the dialogue or transitions, by the end, I was pretty sure I knew what had happened. That's a big plus, considering the fantastic nature of the story. I wasn't totally sure - I had to read the script to be confident - but I think that the story comes across on the strength of the visuals. The uncomfortable new man and his buddy, the confrontation of the woman on the bench, and the joy of discovering a daughter - they all lead you toward the idea of what's happening.

You could theoretically re-edit this as a silent film, and fix most of your technical problems while maintaining the core of your movie.

Philip Whitcroft (Level 5)

This takes on some really powerful issues and does a strong job of being thought provoking.

The device of shifting the character through various situations works well and pays off with a great message and a powerful conclusion.

As with anything with these kind of jumps, it is initially hard to follow, and I know I was scratching my head for a bit. I also had some trouble with the mix of captions and voice-over in English.

Pia Cook (Level 5)

Awesome fun to see some scenes from a different country!! I think you did really great with this. Sure there are some things that could have been better technically. Like the sound for example, but the story works and is a good one. I remember you talking about filming something when you went to the Ukraine and I think you really pulled it off. Was some scenes shot here? Like the nice house and the young woman?

My hat's off to you!! Congrats and good luck!! :)

R. L. Robinson (Level 3)

After reading "She Lives" I felt that the script moved a little slowly and that if one were to film it they may want to pick up the pace with the acting, action,and soundtrack of the film. Fair job. Done.

Reginald McGhee (Level 0)

The screenplay is excellent. I have not spotted any plot holes.

The characters performed well and did not cause any distractions for the screenplay. Surya, Orhan and the daughter knew how to act.

The freeze pan killed the flow of the movie, especially towards the end. I think the movie can work better without it. However, the creator (God) scene drives the movie forward. It should stay where it is.

The camera shot in the restaurant just as the man gets up to call someone was unnecessary. I think you should have done a zoom out to reveal his friend instead of a camera shot. The FADE TO in another scene is perfect. The first close up on the tree was unnecessary. I think you should have done a close up on the man instead of the tree. The second close up is good.

The sound was okay. The music fit right in the movie. It remained me of Freaky Friday, where they switch places.

The overall score for the movie is the direction and shots. You can work on that a little bit. I will rate this as good.

Rich Keel (Level 4)

I do not think I have read thi one before. Interesting script.

Audio - Needs a lot fo work. I like the native lanuage you used but I'm not sure why you just did not use that for the whole film. The were peaks and drops in the olume all over the place. You'll want on that to try and get a constant volume throught the whole film. Plus the constant repeatin of the same BG song started to get a little annoying. If possible through in multiple songs.

Story - I like the idea of the story

Acting - Not bad, I like the adult woman before she killed herself...vavooommm! But I'm a pig. :) The mom did a great job and the Dad did good even though his anger seemed forced at times

Directing/Editing - Issues with audio edits like I mentioned above, some cuts seemed off but nothing major. The one thing that I did not like was the freeze-frame thing. It did it once in the kitchen, once when he saw his daughter and then once near the end. To me it did not seem eye-catching, just strange. It may be your style and that is fine I just did not care for it.

Overall - I thought this was a fair film. The audio issues I think were the biggest so if you cleaned that up I think it could be a lot more enjoyable to watch. And that can be a quick fix in POST.

Good luck to you this month

Richard Buckley (Level 4)

Congratulations on your completed film,

On most level this all seemed a little rushed. If you'd of taken a little more time with your shots and allowed us to take some of them on board, It would of involved me a little more.

This a common problem with first-time filmmakers, they often worry that their shots aren't interesting enough and go too fast.

If you watch most films today they often take there time introducing a landscape or character. You have access to a whole different culture, which is a great asset, think of the best places, views, which can show this off and use it.

Despite all this I did get some aspect of your story, and an interesting one at that. Learn a little more about editing if you can, it takes time to master.

Well done.

Robert Newcomer (Level 4)

This was an interesting film, and I suspect there are cultural aspects that keep me from completely getting this one.

The male characters are painted in such broad strokes it is almost hard to take them seriously, but their characters are quickly established, so it is a bit of a trade-off that suits the short format.

The film takes off into weird territory at the midpoint, and what actually occurs is not entirely clear -- but it ultimately builds to a positive message that is easily understood, despite the odd circumstances that surround it.

The story could benefit from adding the new wife -- showing that he has become a good husband as well -- and not showing at least one interaction with his/her father in this new guise is a lost opportunity.

This has a nice flavor to it, with the music and the foreign sets that are clearly authentic, and those aspects I truly enjoyed. This is not a flawless effort, but it has a heart, which is ultimately the most important thing.

Rustom Irani (Moderator)

This is quite an ambitious task to undertake, especially in two different languages and the large cast size.

Audio is of course your main undoing but the subtitles help tremendously and there was no point where I felt disconnected as the viewer.

The cast, including you :), looks really great, the little girls have that vulnerability going for them and the women convey emotions in silences quite well.

Consider these shorts as learning exercises and you can only get better as you go along.

- Right now you can get your actors to fill the frames nicely. Your next task will now be to tell a story and create tension using camera and edit techniques.

- You have used some edit techniques like cutting to white, or to the husband at the party, now think of camera movement and framing, as well. Think of how close-ups of the actors faces could have worked, what about the dad's pov?

- Think of what you can do with color, maybe the wife by herself in that party dress needs a softer, slightly over-exposed tone which can be achieved in post. And when she decides to end it all the tone an go brighter or darker and you cut to white.

- The audio definitely needs work, but until you tackle something on a smaller scale in a more controlled environment, using pro mics, I won't comment too much on this.

- Also think of minimal production design. The park looks beautiful, could another location have worked better inside the park? Could you have re-arranged some furniture to add depth or convey feelings better? Could you have introduced more on screen lights? The scene with both men at the table would have worked much better in low light, for example.

This is a good effort Khamanna, keep it up!

Sally Meyer (Moderator)

I like the opener with the two characters. The setting was good. It looked sparse and sad looking. I didnt like the music. It detracted from the story.

I thought the difference between the home of the young girl and when she grows up was really strong. She has better 'things' but her life is still sad.

Very unique story and I liked it. The actors were good.

The lighting and setting were good.

I just felt like the music could have made this so much stronger, and to me it was hard to listen to the same soundtrack over and over.

Making a film is such a labor of love and you obviously put so much of yourself into this. With a little polish and maybe different soundtrack, this would really shine.

Good job!!

Shedric Bragg (Level 3)

Like the titles from the opening. The opening scene was deep. Didn't too much like the trasnitions. The entire story was deep. This is something Iranian women, women in general must deal with on a daily basis. This was pretty good.

Van Atanasov (Level 2)

I think the concept has potential and the script manages to fit a lot events in a five-minute film. I definitely think changing the dialogue in the last part to voice over is a good idea - otherwise it wouldn't be possible to convey all the information.
My problem with the plot is that the conflict was resolved too quickly - the creator didn't want anything in return, she managed to fix everything and got the life she had wanted. Also, I would have wanted to see more of what the years of opression did to Hatira. I didn't see her as THAT emotionally scarred before the suicide attempt.
Cinematogrpahy is a bit flawed but it didn't bother me too much.
The way the title animates wasn't appropriate in my opinion.

William Bienes (Mod Emeritus)

I think this could be an excellent film. I would start with the transitions - they are abrupt and harsh and give the film a disjointed feel in sight and sound.

The picture quality is very good and for most part, so is the sound. Some of the shots could be framed better and some of the acting is a bit stiff.

I love the voice over of this film and think it could be more powerful with only the voice over and the actual characters remaining silent with only their actions behind the narration.

Love the music as well and think the subject matter is very powerful - make the film just as powerful.

Good luck and congratulations on the film.

William D. Prystauk (Level 5)

The story seemed rushed because the editing was so abrupt (especially with all the stop motion). The transitions need to be smoother.

The sound is also all over the place in volume.

Some of the acting was a bit too stiff and the lighting made most scenes appear sterile.

This could be a very wonderful and vibrant story, but it needs to be seen in on a grander scale. "She Lives" is a great story with much to explore and I hope you pursue this is greater form.

Zach Jansen (Level 4)

I liked the opening music cue -- sets a theme, mood, setting, so much.

The voice-over was too echo-y for my taste. And then the some of the non-V.O. is also echoed?

Some really interesting shots/framing and transition choices -- inspired even. The editing leaves a lot to be desired, but that's a learned art/technique. The freeze-frames were odd, but added something... I don't really know, but it was definitely different.


Comments Made After the Contest

KP Mackie (Level 5) ~ 1/1/2012 12:39 AM

@Kham --
I love the message here, not to mention your pure guts for tackling difficult subject matter. This was a terrific attempt; the low scores are way off so just ignore them. You should be very proud. Really looking forward to your next project. Do it again!

Pia Cook (Level 5) ~ 1/1/2012 1:01 AM

Khammana, I had this one pegged for third! I think you did an awesome job!!!

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5) ~ 1/1/2012 3:55 AM

Thank you all for the awesome feedback. I didn't know whether to submit it, then decided to do so and not regretting it a bit - you gave me so much to work with. Quite a bit of wonderful suggestions there as well as helpful criticism - so thanks!
Heehee - and some of you are too kind!

KP and Pia - you're wonderful, thank you! The year started great for me!

And KP - you selected it as a favorite, man that feels so good...


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KP Mackie