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‘Josiah’ Review: Short film takes a long look at biases

Race, gender, and class structures are put under a magnifying glass in Laursen’s smart and artfully constructed film Josiah. 

The world is currently in upheaval. Topics regarding race and gender are coming to light in new and sometimes horrendous ways. People are coming under fire and being forced to hold a mirror up to their own biases.  Kyle Laursen’s short film Josiah explores the way different people view particular aspects of society and shows how seemingly good intentions can be misguided.  Race, gender, and class structures are put under a magnifying glass in Laursen’s smart and artfully constructed film Josiah

The film centers around an extremely uncomfortable situation. A young black man named Brandon auditions for the role of a slave turned Buffalo Soldier. His role of Josiah plays opposite Wilford, the white army general who believes in his potential. As Brandon auditions, conversations about historical language, context, and art come forth and it becomes evident that his opinion is not really valued. The most glaring issue in the film is that of racism, but sexism and power also enters the dialogue. These conversations and interactions create an incredibly tense atmosphere and these themes are laid out through the superb acting of the characters.

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The audition room has three men including Brandon and one woman. The woman, played by Melanie Chandra, is often spoken to as she is a child who is unaware of her surroundings. She also notices the underlying and unintentional racism coming from the director Jack, played by Kevin Dunn. Instead of voicing her concerns in private, she brings them up in front of Brandon, exposing her own biases. Like Jack, she means well, but her criticism casts Brandon is a critical light. Luke Forbes plays Brandon, a nervous young actor who is caught up in tense and somewhat situation. Forbes acting is dynamic as he moves from a talented hopeful actor to a man who has had enough.

Josiah is a thoughtful film that is sure to provoke numerous discussions. Nominated for best US Short, Josiah will premiere online at the Palm Springs International Shortfest.

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