Ivone Biscaia, Ana Catarina Lima, Eduardo Pereira, Humberto Campos
Luiz Humberto Campos, Tiago Abubakir
"The Great Father" Heads for Indie Fest Circuit
It's not often that a Brazilian film crosses my desk. It's even less often when that film happens to be made by high school students, but that's exactly what happened with O Pai, a 7-minute period short arriving stateside under the name The Great Father. Surprisingly, and rather remarkably, put together on a less than $500 production budget, The Great Father is a history-tinged short set in Portugal in the year 1755. It was the year of the Great Lisbon Earthquake, a natural disaster that claimed thousands of lives and led to political upheaval. In this short, director Tiago Abubakir, working from a script co-written with Luiz Humberto Campos, imagines a post-earthquake Lisbon where the guardian of the kingdom falls ill and a strong, fearless ruler works to subordinate the downtrodden, hungry people of the land to his will.
While there's never really a moment when The Great Father doesn't look and feel like a student film, it's still a rather impressive student film with impressive production quality and a talented cast. The Great Father packs in quite a bit of story into its slight 7-minute running time, though Abubakir's editing is precise and for the most part it works well. The film's core exists in the relationship between Queen Mariana (Ivone Biscaia) and Princess Maria (Ana Catarina Lima), who's set to be heir to the throne and is alarmed at the dominance of a shadowy figure known as Black Baron (Humberto Campos). All three perform quite ably and their ability to pull off the tension in their performances helps the film succeed quite a bit.
Costuming throughout the film is quite impressive, while lensing, especially in one key scene on an extended palatial staircase, is incredibly top-notch. The film is shot in Portuguese with English subtitles, though the action is impressive enough that you'll likely forget the presence of those subtitles.
The 17-year-old Abubakir spent two years working on various aspects of The Great Father and that attention to detail shows in the consistency of the film's storyline and in the film's production values that far transcend the limited production budget.
An impressive effort from a first-time student filmmaker, The Great Father is set to begin its indie fest circuit and should pick up a few awards along its journey. Watch for it at a fest near you.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic