Humming Bird

By Elham Ehsas | Drama
The life of an aspiring actress unravels through her self-tape auditions.

Laila is a young actress who has to put an audition “on tape,” all in hopes of eventually booking a role. She tries to film herself using her iPhone, and enlists her mother to support her. But after being told to find a “normal job,” she enlists a friend of a friend, Ali, to help out.

Laila develops a rapport and eventually a relationship with Ali, as she continues to film audition tape after audition tape, which captures both her rising hopes and growing romance. But as she hits a wall of rejection, she begins to lose her confidence and questions herself, and her life starts to unravel.

Writer-director Elham Ehsas’s short drama is both a portrait of a young woman’s life coming apart before our eyes and a cleverly told romance. Using the series of self-taped auditions to illuminate both the pressures facing Laila as a woman of color in the media industry as well as her changing moods, thoughts and life circumstances, it tells its story using a unique narrative approach, using the casual offhand moments, throwaway comments and offscreen space to tell a emotionally involving story.

With the storytelling unfolding through a series of taped auditions, the visual frame often remains static. Yet the image never feels boring, with elements moving in and out of the stationary camera through thoughtful, clever staging. The directing choices also create visual dynamism through luminous cinematography and rich color and sound. The editing pieces together the most poignant moments captured by Laila’s phone, joined together in an engaging rhythm that allows the audience to both absorb her emotions while compelling them forward with momentum.

As Laila, actress Hiral Varsani is the centerpiece of the film, and her auditions show the gap between the stereotypes she’s often asked to bring to life as a Middle Eastern actress and her intelligent, resolutely modern and multifaceted self. The various auditions, ranging from stereotypical village wife to Shakespeare, show her remarkable emotional range and versatility. Charming, smart and funny, Laila clearly has more to offer than the roles she is up for, and feels frustrated that she can’t bring her fullest self to her life’s vocation, much less book a role. As she hits a breaking point and starts to unravel, her relationship becames a casualty, and she must either cope and move forward or risk getting stuck.

Engaging, well-written and “Humming Bird” is really a short suited for the mobile age, taking advantage of the intimacy offered by smartphones, both creatively and emotionally. Shot on an iPhone, it’s nevertheless crafted with thought and precision, and shows the artistic possibilities of mobile filmmaking. Yet despite its striking visual economy, the film still leans on the classicism of character-based storytelling, and by keeping its heart and focus firmly on Laila, it explores a full, rich emotional arc about love, creative perseverance and emotional resilience in the face of almost certain obstacles.




You Might Also Like:

Mordechai

By Benjamin Bee | Drama
An ultra-orthodox Jew hasn't seen his identical twin brother in years. But today is the day of their father's funeral.

Retouch

By Kaveh Mazaheri | Drama
Her husband has an accident at home... and she just watches him die.

Stealing Silver ft. Maisie Williams

By Mark Lobatto | Drama
A woman confronts a painful time in her life after discovering the truth about a mysterious old man living across from her.

Joseph’s Reel

By Michael Lavers | Romance
An elderly man, upon dying, is given the opportunity to relive one day of his life.

Cradle

By Devon Manney | Animation
Returning to the U.S. after losing both arms, a veteran battles phantom pains, prosthetics and memories of his pre-war life.

Hold On

By Charlotte Scott-Wilson | Drama
A young cellist develops stage fright after one of her cello strings comes lose during an important performance.

Don’t Be a Hero

By Pete Lee | Drama
A middle-aged woman battles her loneliness and boredom by robbing banks in the guise of a cowboy on her lunch break.

Our Kind of Love

By Elham Ehsas and Azeem Bhati | Romance
An Afghan village girl goes on her first date in London.

Lost and Found

By Andrew Goldsmith and Bradley Slabe | Animation
A clumsy crochet dinosaur must unravel itself to save the love of its life.

Edmund the Magnificent ft. David Bradley, Ian McKellen

By Ben Ockrent | Comedy
A once-legendary farmer takes a chance and invests his life savings in a thoroughbred piglet.

Reception

By Joe Gillette | Romance
Two strangers, trying to avoid the crowd at a wedding reception, end up making an unexpected connection.

Exit Strategy

By Travis Bible | Sci-Fi
A man in a time loop must work with his brother to prevent a catastrophic fire.

Garfield

By Georgi Bank-Davies | Romance
A young woman wakes up in a strange place, with a strange guy. Then, she start to piece together how she got there.

Partners

By Joey Ally | Romance
A couple's love life begins to slump, forcing them to reconsider the relationship and confront how intertwined they've become.

Balance

By Mark Ram | Drama
Two friends climb a mountain, connected by a rope. But when one falls, the other's life hangs in an unstable balance.



Your favorite short films you haven't seen yet.

Inspiring and insightful. Entertaining and enlightening.
That's what you can expect here: no fluff. Just a steady
stream of the best films delivered to your inbox.