A Noble Truth

By Tia Salisbury | Drama
A flat earther questions her beliefs after meeting an astrophysicist from her past.

Fawn is a flat earth activist so dedicated to her cause that she's willing to take them offline and onto the streets. She hangs out in public areas, putting up stickers and engaging the public with her alternative beliefs, often encountering indifference, frustration and rejection.

But one day she plans a special action, where she re-encounters someone from her "past life." The meeting causes her to wrestle with her newfound worldview, as well as her inner demons and inadequacies.

Written and directed by Tia Salisbury, this incisive, engaging short drama is a snapshot of a young woman transformed by her newfound beliefs, but who has that ideology challenged when she ventures out into the real world.

The narrative, on the surface, examines immersion into online cultures and "going down the rabbit hole" of certain beliefs and mindsets. The camera and visuals reflect this, often capturing Fawn as she's seen on screens and in mirrors. Her self and ideas are refracted, passing through many prisms, each one slightly distorting reality and truth to strange, odd shapes. As the well-paced story moves forward, we start to see the costs of such refraction, both on Fawn's sense of self and her ability to relate to others.

Actor Hannah Genesius offers a nuanced performance, playing Fawn with an engaging, winning energy. She's excited about her new way of looking at the world and eager to spread the gospel. That enthusiasm carries her forward through her interactions with strangers, which range from bemused to skeptical to condescending. But her certainty is challenged when she's faced with an old friend from her earlier life, an encounter that reveals how ill-equipped she is in dealing with people different from her.

The encounter sends her into a tailspin, detailed in a sequence that's almost phantasmagoric in its texture and feel. Fawn's sense of the world and even her new identity is destabilized, and through the cracks, we can glimpse Fawn's inner disconnection and a touch of disturbance. But will her rigid certainty crumble? As Fawn seeks reinforcement online, she seems to come to a turning point -- one that can either keep her on her path or open up to new possibilities.

"A Noble Truth" is an ironic title for a film that sincerely engages with how people are transformed by their online worlds, which give them the bedrock of inner certainty but perhaps leaves them ill-equipped for the larger world. But beyond its contemporary relevance, it's also a compelling portrait of how fanaticism can take root in well-meaning people.

We glimpse just a bit of Fawn's vulnerabilities with connection, isolation and inner emptiness -- voids filled with the community, understanding and praise of her chosen family. Viewers get a sense of a lost soul finding structure and belonging -- and who won't easily forsake it, no matter what. The inner costs feel too high, though it may come at the expense of a tether to reality.

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