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The Independent Critic

Taversia, Alexander McCoy, Leopold Hernandez, Jr.
10 Mins.

 "Embracing Shadows" the First Short From Taversia 
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Photo Courtesy of Taversia

An aspiring filmmaker and student at UC Berkeley, Taversia arrives at the directorial scene with her debut short film Embracing Shadows, a 10-minute experimental short utilizing multiple genres to tell a personal story depicting, as she puts it, "a tumultuous relationship between one and one's self." 

If this sounds like it may be pretentious, rest assured it isn't. Taversia has a comfortable screen presence, willingly surrendering to her story of the internal struggles that manifest through self-doubts, avoidance of societal expectations and personal responsibilities, and, as the film winds its way through its story, she finds herself surrendering to what feels like the immersive riptides of apathy bubbling underneath the superficial masks she wears. 

Embracing Shadows paints a rather painful portrait, especially if you've ever struggled emotionally yourself. You will recognize yourself through Taversia, yet the experience isn't one of victimization but comfortable familiarity. As the melancholia begins to penetrate her defenses, resignation knocks at the doors of anxiety and resistance and attempts to fight back, including trying to deal with an inaccessible health system, are largely for naught. 

For some, Embracing Shadows will be a difficult film to follow as Taversia has chosen an atmospheric and emotionally resonant approach to filmmaking rather than a straightforward narrative. It's a bold, confident approach that works best when Taversia herself is on the big screen bringing the story to life and, perhaps, less successfully when the low-budget effort is dependent upon animation and special effects to tell its story. That said, there are certain aspects of the animation, in particular, that are mesmerizing and a scene where Taversia can be seen flailing and practically falling is particularly mesmerizing to watch. 

While such testimonial films are often found amongst student filmmakers, they are, unfortunately, far too often self-indulgent works that never quite emotionally resonate as much for the audience as they do for the filmmaker whose story is brought to life. To her credit, such is not the case for Taversia and Embracing Shadows, in which she successfully directs herself and creates an impressive debut and memory effort that makes me anxious to follow her works in the future. 

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic