Written and directed by Lee Whittaker
Starring Gianna Gomez & Carlotta Elektra Bosch
Film review by Monica Jowett
Drugs and violence are things children shouldn’t be surrounded by, and so to escape these, Isabella (Gianna Gomez) uses her vivid imagination to enter into a mystical world and tries to protect the bond she has with her mother (Carlotta Elektra Bosch) in the short film Catching Fireflies.
Living in the ghetto in Los Angeles is difficult for a child, especially with an addict mother. Isabella survives through disappearing into her imagination, seeing beautiful women, fairies and fireflies that show her there is something better in the world than the death and disease she is surrounded by. Helped by the kindness of strangers who take pity on the young girl, Isabella sees the magic in the world where her mother sees only a place for her next fix. A bright and intelligent girl she welcomes anything extraordinary, such as Elijah’s (Stephen Boss) dancing, her face lighting up at this new wonderment. Her strength and optimism is ultimately her downfall, as she does not notice her danger until it is too late, choosing to see the beauty in a bad situation. Gomez is a delight to watch on screen, showing great enthusiasm for her character.
A simple but mesmerising script easily captures the essence of the film, and also provides a powerful message of the issue of homeless children. Written and directed by Lee Whittaker, it is easy to see how he cares for the story and provides all of the actors with a lot of substance to create a heartfelt, captivating film.
Visually, Catching Fireflies is enchanting, channelling the mystical elements of the story. When Isabella is caught up in her imagination, the lighting is used to create each scene as though from another world with filters, and shadows. Also, the close up framing of Isabella emphasises how she longs for escape with her mother. Alongside this, the music adds to the magic presented in the short film, feeling both sad and warm. The energy of the music feels closely connected to the story and is uplifting yet heart breaking.
This whimsical and magical short film shows the importance of creativity in children, especially in the less fortunate. Gorgeously filmed with engaging actors, Catching Fireflies is a heartfelt, bewitching film about Isabella’s ability to find wonder in a horrific reality.
You can watch the Catching Fireflies film trailer below...