There's a jarring normalcy within the cinematic walls of Javier Augusto Nunez's 15-minute short film The Fifth of November, a film that explores the emotional impact of violence, its rippling presence, and the ways in which our culture allows it all to bubble over.
The film stars Qurrat Ann Kadwani, also its co-writer and producer, as Jane, whose fiance' is killed in a mass shooting where she is, in fact, the only survivor.
Unsurprisingly, the mass shooting has a profound impact on Jane's life. The once vivacious presence becomes more intentional in every aspect of her daily life with, perhaps, distance running becoming the only place where she places the passion with which she once lived.
The Fifth of November is essentially about what happens after.
After the shooting.
After the trauma.
After the cycle has perpetuated itself.
The Fifth of November reminds us that this is not just "another mass shooting," but another round of disrupted lives and rippling cycles, perpetuated stereotypes and political grandstanding.
It all contributes and it all allows that which divides us to divide us even further.
In crafting the story, Nunez wisely avoids exploiting the initial tragedy without muting its impact. If anything, its impact is magnified by the way the scene is constructed and the ways in which Kadwani brings her intense trauma to life as the scene unfolds. It's difficult to construct such a scene without somehow glorifying the violence, yet Nunez plays it smart here and the scene is all the better for it.
The real master stroke in The Fifth of November is Kadwani herself, whose transformation from vibrant and vivacious to stoic and withdrawn is jarringly real and disturbing and uncomfortable yet completely believable. Kadwani makes us see and feel her shift in such a way that everything that unfolds is stark yet almost expected.
Ray Gallardo's lensing gives the film a washed out, weathered atmosphere that works nicely with the world in which Jane now lives. Her entire world has changed and Gallardo's lensing makes sure we understand that.
The Fifth of November has already screened at multiple indie film fests and should have no problem continuing its festival run with its powerful story and timely messages. It's an engaging, memorable film with a strong central performance by Kadwani and a fine ensemble cast bringing it all to life.
For more information on The Fifth of November, check out the film's IMDB page linked to in the credits.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic