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The Independent Critic

Issaka Sawadogo, Marie-Ginette Guay, Nadine Jean, and Paul Batah
Jorge Camarotti
25 Mins.

 "Ousmane" a Thoughtful, Moving Short Film 
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Writer/director Jorge Camarotti's Ousmane seems destined to be a favorite during this week's Academy Award-qualifying Indy Shorts International Film Festival in Indianapolis. Ousmane has the cinematic tapestry that Indy Shorts audiences love - intelligent, engaging storytelling wrapped by deep compassion for the fullness of the human experience. The story centers around Ousmane (Issaka Sawadogo), a newly arrived immigrant living in Montreal, who faces a challenging situation when he meets Edith (Marie-Ginette Guay), an elderly and disoriented woman living in his same apartment building whom he meets at the end of a long work day. Discovering the troubling conditions in which she lives, Ousmane naively commits himself to care for her as if she were his own mother. Before long, however, he begins to realize that he is ill-prepared for the comprehensive nature of her needs. 

Having had its world premiere at Toronto International Film Festival and picked up the top jury prize for drama at the Academy Award-qualifying Aspen Shortsfest, Ousmane is a revelatory, emotionally honest short film grounded within a quietly remarkable performance by Issaka Sawadogo and Marie-Ginette Guay's own understated, intimate turn as Edith. There's a level of tenderness within Ousmane that is extraordinary, Sawadogo's natural kindness practically immersing the screen and enveloping us all. Ousmane tackles difficult subjects, though Camarotti does so uniquely and in ways that feel fresh and vital. While the film is a mere 25-minutes in length, Camarotti fleshes out the story and these characters nicely and one can't help but feel invested in their welfare. Nadine Jean is particularly effective as a supporting player and lensing by Nicolas Canniccioni is warm without ever crossing the line into maudlin. 

Ousmane is the kind of film that crawled into my skin slowly and it wasn't really until hours after having seen the film that I realized how so incredibly deeply it had touched me and how much I'd bonded with these characters. It's really a quiet gem that avoids histrionics and unnecessary drama in favor of simply embracing the rich humanity of its story and characters. 

Since moving to Montreal in 2003, Camarotti has built a name for himself as a voice for those in society who are always represented in cinema. The same is true here and the end result is one of 2022's finest narrative drama shorts. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic