Commander Sam

By Liam Fouracre | Drama
A young girl dreams of being in space. So her father turns his van into a spaceship.

Sam is a little girl who dreams of being in space. She and her father Neil play an elaborate game of astronaut, and their world is surrounded by space-inspired creation. Even her father’s work van has been “converted” into a spaceship, which Sam commands as her own vessel, leading her into flights of imaginative fancy.

But one night, Neil drives to his work at an airport in Sam’s “spaceship,” and a usually peaceful night turns chaotic when Sam finds herself in a perilous situation. The danger shatters Sam’s cocoon of innocence and safety, shifting the relationship with her father.

Written and directed by Liam Fouracre, this poignant short family drama captures the innocence of childhood, with storytelling anchored in the imagination of its titular character. Sam is a young girl with a rich fascination with outer space, which is an inner world that permeates her outer one with the help of her loving, hard-working father Neil.

Similar to how children’s attention is more focused on the immediate present, the storytelling grounds us in Sam’s private world, with its whimsical sense of play and magic, and we are right with her as she “takes off” on her adventure. The story takes time to develop her character, emotions and relationships, excelling at capturing the lovely, hermetic way children can create entire realms in their imagination. The sound design — combining space command audio and a quirky electronic score — also keeps us immersed in Sam’s imagination, even as we see the prosaic reality that it’s transformed from.

The action is rendered with luminous, natural cinematography and handheld camerawork that gives an earthy grounding to the fanciful flourishes of the film. But sometimes Sam’s fancied and the tough realities of real life collide, and in Sam’s case, almost literally, when an accident at Neil’s work happens. Sam and the van she’s made her own are in the crosshairs, and Sam must take quick action to avoid disaster, even though she is a little girl.

Young actor Drew Hodgson beautifully captures both Sam’s innocence and innate intelligence, so it’s easy to believe that Sam is as resourceful and quick-thinking as she needs to be to deal with the situation she finds herself in. At a key moment, she is lost in fantasy altogether — as envisioned by an animated sequence — and her ability to imagine may just pull her through. But despite Sam’s capability and toughness, she’s still very much a child, and the incident still leaves this particularly tight, compact family unit shaken from the impact.

Shimmering with tenderness and a homespun magic, Commander Sam” ends on a note of relief, and a poignant, classic image of a protective parent and a tired, sleepy child. The film is a sweet portrait of a child’s loving, imaginative von with her father, but it’s also a snapshot of a moment where crisis and disaster were averted. And judging from Neil’s regretful look at the end, a cautionary tale that despite their maturity, self-sufficiency and adaptability, children are still children in the end, in all their innocence and vulnerability.




You Might Also Like:

Sylvia

By Richard Prendergast | Drama
A single mother takes her family on a road trip. But it's to an unwanted destination.

Second Best

By Alyssa McClelland | Comedy
Twin sisters turn into rivals when one's gymnastics career steals the spotlight.

No More Wings

By Abraham Adeyemi | Drama
2 friends meet at their favorite fried chicken shop. But their lives have diverged.

Avarya

By Gokalp Gonen | Animation
A man is trapped on a spaceship after his robot overseer finds every planet uninhabitable.

Feeling Through (Oscars)

By Doug Roland | Drama
A homeless teen meets a deaf-blind man who changes his life forever...

Ernie

By Hadley Hillel | Drama
A man's suicide attempt rips a hole in the ceiling. Then he befriends the boy upstairs.

Dig Your Own Grave

By Kirk Larsen | Comedy
A man is forced to dig his own grave in the desert. But the ground is hard.

Call Connect

By Josiah Allen and Indianna Bell | Drama
A young helpline operator takes her first call and gets more than she expected.

More Than God

By Kev Cahill | Comedy
A devoted husband suspects his wife is cheating on him. Then he hides under the bed.

Welcome to Iron Knob

By Dave Wade | Comedy
A young boy accidentally shoots a stranger and the town tries to cover it up.

CODA

By Erika Davis-Marsh | Romance
A young dancer falls for a deaf guy, then tries to find her place in the world.

Toni With an I

By Marco Alessi | Drama
An awkward girl doesn't fit in at school. Then the Internet comes to save her.

The Things You Think I’m Thinking

By Sherren Lee | Drama
A burn-survivor goes on his first date after his accident.

Into the Silent Sea

By Andrej Landin | Sci-Fi
A Soviet cosmonaut who is stranded in space discovers a voice in the distance.

Infinite ft. George MacKay

By Connor O’Hara | Drama
A terminally-ill man has a plan to 'live on' and gets his friends to help.



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.