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The Independent Critic

Liam Burke, Roison O'Donovan, Niall Dempsey, Maghnus Foy
Charlo Johnson
14 Mins.

 "Positive Discrimination" a Thought-Provoking, Impactful Short Film 
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Winner of the Best Foreign Short Film Award at the L.A. Independent Film Festival, Charlo Johnson's Positive Discrimination is a beautifully constructed and thought-provoking 14-minute short film out of Ireland in which a policeman (Niall Dempsey), a prostitute (Roisin O'Donovan), and an old man (Liam Burke) exist with three very different paradigms proving that initial perceptions can often be wrong.

Positive Discrimination draws us in with a seemingly simple story that we've seen countless times before in both short and feature-length films - a kindly old man left feeble and alone is treated with kindness and gentleness by a friend or a neighbor of some sort.

Within the span of the film's 14-minute running time, Johnson makes us think about everything we've seen and everything we've believed along the way. As the old man, Joe, Liam Burke is an absolute wonder. Burke, a veteran actor who used to be a stand-in/body double for Irish acting legend David Kelly, sort of envelopes us in the warmth of his performance yet smolders as the story unfolds. It's a disciplined, brilliant performance that reminds you that the veteran stage actor knows how to work an audience.

Roisin O'Donovan, currently starring on the Red Rock television series, is perfectly cast as Tanya, a seemingly well-meaning college student with some serious financial issues and yet a believably kind spirit. It's a layered performance that had me hooked from moment one.

The same is true for Niall Dempsey's take on the detective, a far more mysterious role that just sort of lingers throughout and adds an aura of tension that ultimately pays off.

Andrei Ghenoside's lensing is spot-on perfect, infusing the film with simultaneous chills, thrills and yet an odd sense of comfort. David Obaniyi's original music weaves together the film's disparate story threads into a cohesive dramatic piece.

Ultimately, the film seemingly works because Charlo Johnson's script is absolutely top notch and he's clearly got the vision to transfer that to the big screen. With a terrific ensemble cast and stellar multi-national production team, Positive Discrimination should continue experiencing wild success on the indie fest circuit.

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic