Getting A Scholarship short film review

★★★★

Directed by: #GaryOBennett

Written by: #GaryOBennett

Starring: #CarolinaDeCastiglioni, #EkinNazDemirok

Film Review by: Darren Tilby



There’s a lot to be said for a film that deals with sexual abuse and leaves you second-guessing who the actual victim was. It’s this style of morally ambiguous storytelling that you’ll encounter during Gary O. Bennett’s six-minute short drama, Getting A Scholarship - a film that’s as much about ambition and opportunity as it is about the abuse of one’s position.


Lucy (Carolina De Castiglioni) is not happy about her recent A-graded paper. It may seem strange, but her concern is such that she’s sat in her tutor’s office to discuss precisely how she managed to get the stellar grade she did. Bella (Ekin Naz Demirok), Lucy’s tutor, is understandably surprised at her apparent anger. It soon starts to become clear, however, when the conversation soon turns to “an innocent drink” the pair had shared a few nights before, and how there may have been the promise of a better grade in exchange for the drink out. But it doesn’t stop there, and soon, accusations of drugging and sexual assault are being thrown at Bella.


It may seem like a reasonably black-and-white issue: a tutor abusing her position of power to take advantage of her younger students is, quite obviously, a terrible thing to do. But it doesn’t alter the fact that by the end of the film, I was left wondering who the actual victim was. De Castiglioni plays on our perception of the typically diffident young woman trying to stand her ground in the face of absolute authority; youth and innocence pitted against experience and wisdom. At the same time, Demirok exudes confidence and, dare I say, arrogance in the face of these repeated accusations. This obviously isn’t the first time she’s dealt with such allegations, a fact made evident by the speed of her ripostes. Nonetheless, around the half-way point, these roles begin melding into one another – achieved by the brilliantly on-point performances – until, by the end, all sense of morality has flown out of the window.


This tonal shift and the gradual build-up throughout the movie is genuinely chilling, and it has me considering its ramifications, even now. In this respect, Getting A Scholarship is a resounding success. Where it doesn’t quite succeed is in its dialogue and the quality of the sound. Both can be quite poor, with the audio sounding a little muted and fuzzy in places (except for the musical score), and the conversation not feeling particularly authentic.


It’s also worth mentioning, although this isn’t an issue I had, that the film could, possibly, be problematic for anyone sensitive to the issue of sexual assault. Especially regarding how the movie ends, which I obviously don’t want to discuss here. But like I said, this wasn’t a problem for me, and I don’t really think it will be for anyone else.

In the grand scheme of things though, these aren’t big complaints, and they are the only ones I really have. Getting A Scholarship is a terrific drama with a lot going for it: solid performances, great storytelling, and an unsettling twist. One that sticks with you long after the film finishes, and will have you questioning your perception of right and wrong. Not bad for a movie just over six-minutes long!