Directed by: #RitSaraswat
A neo noir short film from director Rit Saraswat, Traitor depicts a futuristic Los Angeles whereby Muslims have become a severely oppressed community. A detective called Sam (Paras Patel) finds himself in the unenviable position of choosing between furthering his career and protecting Isra (Kally Khourshid), a dear friend who may be part of the Muslim resistance fighting back.
Between the cacophony of propaganda spewing out of the radio and the increasingly harsh measures used on Muslims including identity badges, Traitor adopts a fairly bold stance when presenting its story to the audience. What looks like a classic #noir thriller at commencement quickly evolves into a war time narrative with a sci-fi edge as we learn more about this society of the future. The short maintains many of the classic cinematic elements, such as being in black and white, in order to highlight the terrifying parallels of this future world with the abhorrent persecution seen in the world's past.
Saraswat balances the movie's dark and light aspects well. It's not a slog to get through and the film is peppered with romance and comedy. Christina DeRose delivers a particularly funny turn as a former client of Sam's. The combination of these genres and tones makes the piece all the more effective in revealing the farcical yet deadly serious nature of the themes. Depicting an American society so similar to Nazi Germany should, indeed, feel like a spoof movie. Regrettably, Traitor has a fair amount of believability.
Sam's dilemma perhaps hints at the film's title. Is he being a traitor to his country for not becoming an informant for the authorities? Or is it not doing more to stand up for Isra's community? His confusion culminates in a decidedly tragic final third to the movie and cements the #filmmaker's intention to place the viewer in the same awkward position as him.
Some of the dialogue is a little on the nose, in particular during the scenes between Sam and Lucy (Kate Watson), the government type trying to enlist Sam as an informer. The slightly theatrical nature of this exchange, however, does complement the overall tone of the short film which aims to ridicule, undermine, and ultimately highlight the dangerous levels of racism and xenophobia in our own society.
Visually impressive and laden with poignancy and political themes, Traitor takes a running punch at the volatile nature of American society. Using the foundational elements of it's cinema to highlight the tragedy and irony of it all, the #shortfilm provides a glaring warning sign for viewers whose passivity gets called into question.
Watch the official movie trailer below.