The Shooting Star Salesman

By Kico Velarde | Drama
An ageless man tries to sell shooting stars in a modern world.

In the 19th century, a salesman created a magical machine that grants the ability for people to order up their unique shooting star to wish upon. The machine also can stop aging, keeping the salesman alive well into the current age. As he outlives his family, he becomes increasingly isolated and sad, breaking the magic of the shooting star machine.

Increasingly embittered and disillusioned, he repairs the machine and ventures out into the city but finds it hard to make sales in a fast-paced, skeptical modern age. He finds his own belief in his machine and even the goodness of humanity flagging. But with the help of a curious 8-year-old tagalong, he restores his faith in his magic and himself.

Directed by Kico Velarde from a script written by William Camacho, this wide-eyed, unabashedly heartfelt short fantasy film is infused with whimsy and charm, from the premise and plot to the lush and lovely musical score. The result is a cinematic experience as transportive as the magical machine at its center.

In the same enchanting way of a classic Disney tale -- complete with stately, elegant cinematography and graceful camerawork -- the narrative slowly and deliberately sets up a magical world and character nestled in the confines of a suburban California neighborhood. The salesman lives in a shadowy bubble of his own, grieving for his long-lost family.

But he's also guardian over an extraordinary machine, though it's been breaking down. He manages to repair it and sets out into the wider world. Narrative momentum picks up as he encounters rudeness, indifference and skepticism, giving him the sense that there's no room anymore for wishes. But he also encounters a young kid, who is curious and charmed by the salesman and his endeavor.

Actor Yancey Arias has the polish and elegance of both an old-fashioned gentleman and a professional salesman, one who doesn't quite understand that his customers are too busy for wishes and whimsy and that the art of salesmanship doesn't exist anymore. Watching his relationship with Elijah -- played with appealing curiosity by young performer Elijah Velarde -- develop is one of the key pleasures of the film. When the salesman's faith in his magic begins to falter, Elijah's childhood innocence helps to restore it.

"The Shooting Star Salesman" is on the longer side of a short, but it takes advantage of each moment to weave an enchanting story that appeals to kids of all ages (even the grown-up ones.) The salesman doesn't just sell wishes -- he sells the belief in the fundamental goodness of the universe that something wonderful is in our future. The story particularly resonates because it accepts the difficult parts of human emotional experience: despondency, loss, grief and hopelessness, and how they rob our ability to hope. But with compassion and understanding -- and help from our friends and loved ones -- we can come to terms with these difficulties and believe in magic once again.

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