Shot in Franklin, Indiana, writer/director Brian Goldfarb's nearly ten-minute short film What We Sow has already picked up the top prize in its category in Fort Wayne's Ghoulie Film Awards and is all lined up for screening at Louisville's Fantasmagorical Film Festival, both facts strong indicators of the film's thought-provoking and effective approach to fairly familiar subject matter.
The premise of What We Sow is fairly simple, though I can't help but think it feels a little more timely given the current state of the American political scene even though the film itself has zilch to do with actual politics - in a society where evil is running rampant, the Grim Reaper (Jake Goldfarb) begins to question if killing the wicked is actually helping society.
At a mere ten minutes in length, What We Sow doesn't mess around with getting its point across. It's the kind of film where giving away too much is taking away a substantial part of the film's effectiveness, so I won't, but suffice it to say that Goldfarb's script starts off heavy, maintains that sense of heaviness then drives home what may be the ultimate purpose of the film.
You will, of course, have to decide for yourself what Goldfarb is actually saying here.
The joy of What We Sow, however, is that you'll likely be thinking about that message long after the closing credits have rolled. It's not exactly difficult to look around our own communities and see evil running wild and free, whether we're talking about three young African-American males essentially executed in Fort Wayne for what seemingly was their belief system or a money-driven political scene that seems to be putting the dregs of society at the top of the political food chain.
But, I digress.
The proposition that first struck me, of course, was that this Grim Reaper, played with chilling effectiveness by Jake Goldfarb, is involved in these scenarios in a very direct way. The other proposition, of course, is that even the Grim Reaper isn't beyond looking around and going "WTF? There has to be a better way."
Indeed, it seems that What We Sow is saying, there must be a better way.
I'm not sure what it says about a film when its most evil parts are its most effective, but such is the case with What We Sow. In particular, Austin Mason is beyond chilling as that stranger in a bar that you deep down know you should avoid and Jason Hyneman is disturbingly mesmerizing as a haunting and unforgettable father. As a drug addict, Leighann Ramey has a relatively short yet memorable appearance.
Despite Indiana's continued lack of a tax incentive for filmmakers, a short-sighted deficit in a state filled to the brim with quality filmmakers and industry professionals, Goldfarb has crafted a low-budget indie short that leaves you contemplating its meaning well after the theater lights have gone up.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic