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[SXSW '21] 'Are You Still There?' review: A good film about a bad day

Movie Reviews

[SXSW ’21] ‘Are You Still There?’ review: A good film about a bad day

Short film examines family and hope

Are You Still There? is a short film by Rayka Zentabchi and Sam Davis. Safa is having a rough day. Her car won’t start and she’s taking up a parking space in front of a business. Things go from bad to worse in this story about resilience and compassion. 

The film takes place almost entirely inside Safa’s car. The frustration is palpable as she is unable to start the car. A few more mishaps occur that intensify Safa’s annoyance. Safa’s goes from feeling put out to despair as the time drags. In the middle of all of this, there’s a story about compassion as she is shown kindness from an unexpected source. The direction and setting contribute to the Safa’s story so that when the scenery changes so does the tone. 

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Are You Still There? on the surface is about a bad day, but what is not shown is how it is about multiple days and giving each other a break. There’s a lot to say about the hope and the relationships displayed in this film. Safa Tarifi and Rima Haddad have wonderful chemistry and their scenes are warm and uplifting. Are You Still There? is a mother/daughter story, but it’s also a reminder to be kind and patient.

SXSW is March 16 – March 20. Tickets and a full lineup can be found here.

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