Kathryn Kates, Dina Manganaris, Liam Mitchell
Penny B. Jackson
"Greetings From Sarajevo" Continues on Indie Festival Circuit
Melissa Skirboll's Greetings from Sarajevo is a quiet, engaging 10-minute thriller centered around a young Bosnian woman, Hana (Dina Manganaris), who arrives in New York City after being tipped off by Sofia (Kathryn Kates) that the man, Stanislav (Liam Mitchell), responsible for rape and murder of her family is in New York City. Having trained for this very moment, Hana has arrived with her eye on revenge.
As Hana, Manganaris gives a riveting, fiercely focused performance that draws us in and doesn't let us go. We care about her almost instantly, the film's opening moments establishing some sort of relationship between she and Sofia that is never defined but is painfully obvious. This allows Manganaris to show Hana's human side, a side you might not expect to see in a 10-minute short almost entirely wrapped around an expected hit.
The story that unfolds, penned by Penny B. Jackson, is never less than engaging and refuses to reveal easy answers. The film's ending satisfies yet leaves you guessing, the resolution never quite expected but somehow making sense. There's a lot that unfolds over the course of Greetings from Sarajevo, yet the story doesn't feel rushed and the story feels complete by the time the closing credits are rolling.
In addition to Manganaris's terrific performance, Kathryn Kates shines as Sofia, an older woman who wears her emotional scares like a worn-out coat and for whom this entire affair feels particularly heavy. While in the film relatively briefly, Liam Mitchell's facial expressions say it all in a substantial turn as the mysterious Stanislav.
Louis Robert King's original score is the perfect accompaniment to the film, each note existing somewhere between thriller and intimate drama. Noah Friedman's lensing captures the film's universality and the urban busyness of a New York City where you can simultaneously be invisible and constantly seen.
While the festival world has been interrupted by the current COVID-19 pandemic, Greetings from Sarajevo is a short film that deserves to be seen by a wider audience and one can only hope that this nasty virus steps aside and the indie world checks out this quiet yet engaging and human thriller.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic