Cranberry Nights - Short Film Review

★★★★

Written & Directed by: #SaraRobin

Starring: #IndeNavarrette, #ZedakiahKoterba, #SarahSawyer, #AlfredoRose

Short Film Review by Taryll Baker

Poster for Cranberry Nights

Behind her mother's back, 16-year old Juana sneaks out to a party to get closer to her crush, Robin. She never suspects that her best friend, Kelly, will risk Juana's life with a drunken slip of the tongue.


In this coming of age film from writer/director Sara Robin, a typical teen drama is turned on its side with a fabulous blend of beautiful imagery, top-notch acting and an important topic. Cranberry Nights dances through the events of an energetic party, a calm encounter with a crush, a worrying vision and a biting final scene, all the while supported by a graceful and sublime score. Robin’s story touches on the subject of illegal immigration, the character of Juana having to stay hidden to protect herself and her family.


Social events are a no-no for Juana (played wonderfully by Inde Navarrette). Anything too “extreme” outside of the walls of her home can open her up for a bad situation. So she stays away from any activities that could prove dangerous for her. I like that in Cranberry Nights, we see a worried Juana, but also the sweet, almost seemingly care-free side to her. Like for just one night, she could let go of herself and maybe things would turn out okay. Although we never see the next event after that ending, it does leave the audience with a cold feeling. The line; “It’s not how these things work” is especially poignant.


Speaking of cold, the cinematography by Casey Stolberg has a much cooler colour palette than perhaps one would usually see in a coming of age flick. But it superbly matches the equally cold subject matter at the base of the film. Supplying a soft charm is the aforementioned score by David Murillo R., ambient with airy synths, reflecting that care-free, sweet side to Juana.

Still from Cranberry Nights

One scene in particular uses a trap style beat, edging close to the youthful exuberance that’s heard in soundtracks from films like Into The Spider-Verse, which also dealt with young adult themes, including growing up… perhaps a little earlier than normal.


The writing and direction by Sara Robin is fantastic. I could hope for a slightly more fleshed out, deeper dive into these characters, but the skill shown in this short is applaudable. Cranberry Nights tackles action with consequence and does so with great control. It’s a simple film but with its gorgeous yet subtle visuals, delightful score and excellent performances, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining watch.


Watch the trailer for Cranberry Nights below.

#TaryllBaker