Reparations short film review

★★★★

Directed and Written by #GregoryGAllen

Starring #EdDelia, #NefertitiWarren

Short Film Review by Jack Bottomley




History really does have a lingering effect, atrocities - sadly - even more so. People remember when man walked on the moon, just as much as people remember when Stalin starved his own people in the Holodomor. The horrors of the past really do reverberate and sometimes even repeat throughout time even more than the good times but are some atrocities worse than others? Is a horror judged by the impact it has on you? And does one have to have witnessed these acts first hand or suffered through them to be truly impacted? Such interesting debate is at the very heart of Reparations, a fascinatingly human short film by writer/director #GregoryGAllen, which asks its audience some deeply personal and raw questions, opens up some huge revelations and also comes up with an intriguing way to shed light on a brutal history.


The story sees young woman Michonne Hawkins (#NefertitiWarren) writing a paper and coming to the end of a series of recorded interviews with Holocaust survivor Howard (#EdDelia). In this final conversation together, Michonne soon finds that there is much yet to be revealed about Howard and his experiences, as they engage in a deep, insightful and powerful final dialogue.


This film centres on the idea of reparations, in this case defined as the state compensating one for past war damages, effects and traumas but seeks to open that idea up and engage us in the the two onscreen characters’ debate. What is the real way that one judges who deserves reparations and how can we possibly say who is/isn’t impacted by the past, even one long before their time but which still has roots in a modern society. Allen’s film is passionate and powerful about its themes but the biggest thing that emerges from such a debate is not a definitive answer but how we as people can not agree on some things but still have deep respect for each other and our own beliefs, traumas and interests.


This is a very humane piece of work and one that is rather touching in how its portrays strength, dedication and resolve. The film is inter-cut by some fabulous animation/illustration backstory sequences by #JazzmenLeeJohnson and it gives the film a distinctive and hand-crafted feel perfect for the personal story being told. The editing is smooth by #LaurieChock and #BethPerry and #ChrisDoney’s score does not impose but accompany its small cast onscreen. As the setting uses #JeffTurick’s very authentic cinematography to great effect.


Many issues and past (and in some ways present) prejudices are summoned by the film and naturally it cannot dig as deep into all areas in its short duration but this is a generously written film about two caring and resilient people. Ed Delia and Nefertiti Warren turn in brilliant performances and feel very much like a double team onscreen you feel very comfortable in the presence of and they really strengthen an already accomplished groundwork for a film which is thought-provoking but above all else embracing of people moving forward and not forgetting the past but building from it towards a brighter future.


#JackBottomley