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- Directed by Andrea Brusa & Marco Scotuzzi -

“Breath” is an experimental short that depicts the fear and panic of a refugee preparing to dangerously leave Italy.

A Syrian woman is about to be transported across the border inside a coffin. The film opens with the point of view of a character looking at a ceiling light, breathing heavily. In the frame appears her smuggler, which wants to note down some basic information about her client. The refugee, Sara, has panicked, the other woman reassures her coldly. While Sara seeks comfort and encouragement, the answers she gets to have only one purpose: to inform her of the business-oriented nature of this deal and of the fact that she is traveling at her own risk; no emotion is involved in the trafficking process.

The sharp dialogue is short but well composed and some lines just stay with you after the film ends: “It’s easier to hide from the bombs than from darkness”. The Syrian woman is claustrophobic and fears the dark, and even if she wouldn’t come from the war-torn Aleppo, her restlessness would still be normal taking into consideration the 18-hour coffin imprisonment she has to endure. But for the trafficker, the survival instinct of the refugee should be stronger: she suggests that if the Syrian had survived the war, she’ll surely get over this dreadful journey. That is a thought-provoking point of the film, tackling the way society often treats the marginalized categories. It frequently happens that the expectations are higher for the struggling people.

The dialogue is depicted entirely through the subjective point of view of the protagonist, who is laying down, while her smuggler is above – a suggestion of her power over the refugee. After this part,  it is revealed that Sara will travel inside a  coffin and that she will be identified as a deceased person. We see the smuggler looking at a map where the names of the refugees are pinned; the camera zooms in and we notice a sigh. We hear Sara’s weeping and fast breathing amplified, while the coffin is nailed and carried out. She was told her breathing would make the difference between life and death and she has to inhale once every ten seconds, but she’s already losing her grip.

In terms of cinematography, this mood video work is divided into two parts– the first is the subjective point of view of Sara, the second is the world of the smuggler, which we see from an objective point of view. The continuity is assured by means of a sound; we keep following the Syrian’s woman state in the second part by hearing her amplified breath.

All in all, “Breath” is an intriguing cinematic experience that will leave the audience with a strong impression.

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