Directed by Kirill Proskura Starring Johnny Spurling, Jo Price, Antonia Reed & Peter Imms Short Film Review by Lorenzo Lombardi
The film & TV trope of an everyman being the catalyst for saving humanity has been done countless times. This can result in a run-of-the-mill attempt that fails to stand out in the world of film. However, A Shadow of Dara should stand out in the Sci-fi short film scene, as it flips this trope on its head in ways you do not expect, and gives a healthy dose of steampunk aesthetics and Star Trek-esque action.
A Shadow of Dara follows AJ (Jonny Spurling), a socially awkward office worker who is puzzled one day after his workers ask him weird questions about numbers. He then meets Nátaly (Jo Price), a leader of a rebellion who risks everything to save him from a bleak future: a world on fire, as the tagline implies.
While Spurling plays his awkwardness too much at times, his character adds some humour and structural basis to the short. The supporting cast is decent too. Price is strong as the revolutionary leader, and her team comprised of hacker Daniel (Peter Imms) and survivor Maria (Antonia Reed) are also compelling to watch.
It is no wonder the film is a winner of awards from established international short film circuits such as the Mexico, Nevada, Wordfest Huston Festivals. On a technical aspect, this short should be considered a proud feat. A Shadow of Dara’s visual effects are colourful and well-executed, not to mention its vibrant lighting. Its costume design is also a sight-to-behold, with a notable example pertaining to the “Shadows” (the antagonists of the story). They are both conceptually and visually creative and would not be out of place in a high budget Sci-Fi film.
There is another massive positive - the lore. As a result, it feels like a well thought-out and entirely believable short. Characters discuss events occurring in both past and future, races, and their own history - all in the space of around 13 minutes. Heck, the official website even contains a “Behind the Scenes” section, which contains videos of the actors explaining each of their characters’ history. By the end, you feel like you know these characters and the history of this fictional universe.
While it may ooze its influences too much (especially from The Matrix), A Shadow of Dara is a low-budget technical marvel that makes you crave a sequel after it wraps up with its open ending. This could maybe become the best short film sci-fi franchise ever. Make it happen, director Kirill Proskura.