I Am [Christopher Eadicicco, USA, 2017] /// Mommy's Girl [Adele Biraghi, USA, 2018]
Motivation, hard work and determination are the key components in achieving success whether in business, sport or life in general. It is the key message at the heart of I Am, a 30-second sportswear commercial from American director Christoper Eadicicco. Intended for an advertising spot, the short film is ultimately a routine branding exercise designed for Kimurawear, "Canada’s leader in quality martial arts supplies". But, in a very short space of time, it attempts to do so much more.
The film begins with a woman (Carolina Coto) in a hooded sweatshirt running, facing square on at the camera which captures her centre frame and in slow-motion. The montage then shows her wrapping her hands with boxing tape, performing stomach crunches, running up steps, jumping rope and shadow boxing. Breaking into a sweat, she maintains steel-like focus, her eyes fixed on her imagined target and on images of inspiring figures fixed to the surrounding walls of the training gym. The soundtrack starts up, the rich and slightly distorted vocal and low piano chords of Seinabo Sey’s ‘Hard Time’ adding tension and gravity to the unfolding images.
As the edits become quicker, switching between each of the aforementioned activities, the sense of drama heightens. The woman now sports red boxing gloves and she delivers punches to a heavy sandbag. There are also shots of medals and trophies on the shelves of the gym. Spent of all her energy, the woman rests her gloves on the top ropes of the boxing ring and leans forward with her head down between her outstretched arms. Here, the camera switches back to the opening shot of her running towards us, staring down the lens as the tagline “#IamAnAthlete” flashes up onto the middle of the screen.
For all of the build-up, the ending suddenly feels anti-climactic. The energy brims towards the surface but never quite comes to the boil and ends instead on a quiet simmer. The stakes here don’t feel very high. The clip may have been more effective if we actually saw her enter the ring in a sparring match and seeing her go on to win a tournament or something to that effect. We don’t even see her make it to the top of the steps. In the end, the commercial just ends on a flatly obvious statement. In a nutshell, it is a case of ‘all punch and no fight’.
From one female boxing film to another, Mommy’s Girl is a heartfelt and inspiring tale for young girls who do not abide by the prescribed rules of conventional society. Enter Maddy (Lorelai Green), our precocious young girl who dreams of one day becoming a boxing legend. It is the night before Halloween and Carly (Stephanie Gonzales) has a gift prepared at the dinner table for her excited daughter, who strides in with gusto wearing her father’s old and weathered boxing mitts. She punches her father’s upheld palm in a salutary greeting. “Hey! Sweetie, I told you not to bring those to dinner,” this clipped reprimand from her mother enough to see Maddy promptly remove the gloves and leave them begrudgingly on the sideboard.
Returning to the table Carly presents Maddy with the large gift box. Opening it, she is disappointed to find a sparkly Tinkerbell costume inside. Looking visibly forlorn, she pleads to her mum, “I want to go as Rocky”. It is clear at this point that Carly is enforcing her own classically feminine mores upon the young girl, whose tomboy persona sits well with supportive father Dan, but rather uncomfortably with Carly. It is a clear source of contention between the married pair, as the two silently scowl at each other at the table after Dan declares, “Hey! You know what? I think you should go as whatever you want.” They save the inevitable argument for when they think Maddy is out of earshot, but she overhears the two bickering in the kitchen and feels responsible.
Mommy’s Girl tackles some important themes and presents them in a familiar domestic setting. The 6-minute short film raises questions as to whether certain childhood behaviours are temporary and whether or not they can or, indeed, should be conditioned towards alternative ends. Adele Biraghi’s own feelings concerning these themes are clear by the film’s dénouement, which resolutely appeals to the efficacy of empathy and support for the young child’s passions.
The film's ending is the most obvious, but also the most logical and satisfying one, expressing a comforting sense of optimism and open-mindedness. Where other sensationalist writers might have failed, Biraghi and co-writer Lucas Maschi tastefully resist the temptation to leave the story open-ended to languish in the realms of potential misery. It is an efficient short film with lovely performances from the entire cast, and particularly from Lorelai Green.
'I Am' and 'Mommy's Girl' both were submissions in consideration for Short Focus Film Festival 2018.