Scrap Dolls

By Aude Cuenod | Drama
A grieving boy meets an artist who turns abandoned objects into art.

Jason is an 11-year-old boy in Detroit who recently lost his best friend Flora. Picked on by the other kids, Jason is lonely and still grieving over his loss.

But after one unfortunate prank, he encounters an artist who makes art out of abandoned objects. The chance meeting also shows Jason a way out of his difficult emotions, honoring and transforming his sadness as he finds his voice.

Written and directed by Aude Cuenod, this gentle and compelling short drama focuses on a young boy who feels lost and broken inside, suffering through a tragic loss and a struggling environment. Captured in lyrical, naturalistic storytelling that prizes sensitivity and emotional clarity, it captures a heartfelt journey of an artist coming alive and a tribute to the power of imagination to heal and nurture the spirit.

With care and brevity, the writing carefully builds Jason's character, and from the earliest scenes, we immediately understand Jason's longing and loss for his friend. We see glimpses of his memories of his friendship, rendered in beautiful detail and warm, rich light that contrasts with the muted, cool tones of Jay's present.

Young actor Eesaa Waller is a quiet but captivating presence as Jay, and he portrays the stony paralysis of grief with a thoughtful understatement. But as Jay becomes inspired by the art he sees, color and warmth return to the film's palette, as do music and rhythm. He begins to create, as a way to honor his friend at first. But he soon discovers a way to pull him out of the isolation of loss -- and a connection to himself and others.

Gentle, lyrical and as compelling as its main character, "Scrap Dolls" captures a poignant connection between two generations and extols the gift of finding beauty and poetry in the often broken objects around them. It understands the deep need of humans to create and craft, reconstituting raw experience and emotion into meaning. But its richest grace is its profound respect for the depth of children's emotional experience, particularly around loss. Though they may not be able to articulate their feelings in words as well as adults, they feel the suffering just as sharply and carry it deeply, with nowhere to put the often overwhelming feelings. Jason will always miss his best friend, but he finds a way to honor and remember her -- and he finds connection, kinship and his unique voice as well.

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