Directed by: Michael Dolha
Written by: #MichaelDolha
A gripping in-flight drama from filmmaker Michael Dolha, short film Hayley is an intense and affecting piece of cinema that tackles heavy themes at high altitudes.
Desi Ivanova plays Alina, an observant flight attendant whose interest is piqued by a young girl (Daniela Maria Sacui Roman) travelling with a mysterious man (Tudor Petrut). As the journey progresses, Alina finds herself taking desperate measures in order to determine whether the young passenger is in danger, even at the abdication of her own job security and personal safety.
Reminiscent of wonderful airplane thrillers such as Non-Stop or Flightplan, as well as other trafficking shorts like Aimee, Hayley also has an immersive atmosphere that keeps the audience in an upright position for the duration of the piece. Characters are sketched intriguingly well in such a short time span, and the narrative is given just the right amount of time and space to unfold without feeling rushed or cluttered.
Isanova is a spectacular lead, empathetic throughout with subtle touches of passion and frenetic panic. Petrut is also great, as the taciturn passenger getting increasingly annoyed by the intrusive attention of the flight attendant. There was also a nice appearance by the film's director who shows up as another passenger.
At the film's close the viewer is greeted with some startling statistics on the sexual abuse of children from the American Society for the Positive Care of Children. The message being to not look away. It is no accident that Dolha sets his story on a flight, where a huge cross section of people are forced to congregate, where fears about safety are heightened, and where human trafficking does take place. The vigilance and humanity that Alina displays are traits common in most people but ones that often get quashed by concerns about interfering with other people or simply by being distracted by our own situations.
Cinematically, Hayley is an efficient and well-constructed short film. The claustrophobic use of the cabin works well to enhance the atmosphere, with fluid #cinematography and tight angles allowing a greater sense of tension to build, especially when Alina's investigation becomes more engaged. The soundscape was also interesting, allowing the diegetic noises of the passengers closing overhead lockers or the rattling of the drinks trolley to build suspense.
Aside from a few shaky moments of acting (the stepping in of an air cop was a little clunky) Hayley is a spectacular short film. Full of high tension and compelling themes.
Watch the short film trailer below.