The best short films change who you are. You watch them and you can feel your heart and your mind and your body shifting into a new space. This is the case with writer/director Sal Bardo's well-timed and endlessly thought-provoking 17-minute short Pink Moon, a film that takes place in a world where heterosexuals are prosecuted and abortions are absolutely forbidden. Within this world, two teens, Ben (Brandon Tyler Harris, Blue Bloods, The Big C, Smash) and Emily (Cole Johnston), are forced to hide an unintended pregnancy before their secret romance is revealed.
Having had its festival premiere at the Miami LGBT Film Festival, Pink Moon recently announced its online world premiere and is available for your own viewing right here. It's a rare chance to watch one of the indie world's up-and-coming filmmakers whose willingness to speak truth is bold, entertaining, thought-provoking, and downright challenging.
As much as it may sound like Bardo's approach here is a novelty, you can rest assured that Bardo keeps it firmly grounded in a jarring yet emotionally resonant reality. Pink Moon skews our sensibilities, but that's precisely the impact it should have.
It's refreshing to have a film approach such themes without some sort of knowing wink or tongue-in-cheek aside. Instead, Pink Moon boldly weaves together the worlds of reproductive rights with LGBTQ rights, worlds that are inter-connected yet not often presented with such clarity together.
Pink Moon already has a feature-length version of the film in the works, while a music video for Cat Martino's "Great Escape," a song featured in the film, is also planned.
The film features an introspective, insightful performance from up-and-comer Brandon Tyler Harris, who may be familiar to audiences for his work in Blue Bloods, The Big C and Smash. Harris embodies Ben as a rather riveting young man whose efforts to maintain a facade against his closeted heterosexuality are painful to watch. As the young woman who truly holds his affection, Cole Johnston is a beautiful combination of natural sensuality and heartbreaking vulnerability.
Bardo's films have screened at over 50 film festivals in 12 countries. He has racked up over 3 million views on Youtube and Vimeo in the last 18 months alone and in 2011 captured the Audience Award for Best First-Time Filmmaker at Washington D.C.'s Reel Affirmations for his film Requited. Bardo's Pink Moon does exactly what I hope for from a short film - it makes you think, feel, squirm, and rush to do an online search for more works from a bold and exciting filmmaker.
For more information on Pink Moon, be sure to visit the film's Facebook page. Before then, sit down and watch the film yourself. You'll be glad you did. Or maybe you won't.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic