Directed by Nashwa Zaman
A young woman shuffles through her backpack in a high school classroom as a teacher hands back graded tests. When the teacher gets to her, to Alice, she drops the test down and asks her to come see her after class. Alice immediately hides the presumably failing grade under a nearby notebook as she bows her head in shame. We get the feeling that there’s a pattern here, that something’s plaguing Alice, rendering her unable to fully apply herself.
Meanwhile, an unkempt, middle aged man drives around for a while and then parks his car and walks up to a house. He takes out his keys and tries to open the door but it won’t budge. The locks have been changed.
When the two characters meet a few scenes later it’s clear their history is not a happy one, that there is a reason the locks have been changed. The man, Daniel, is Alice’s estranged father. From the moment their relationship becomes clear, Alice’s performance in school becomes clear too. How can she focus when she has a father that may appear at any time with a bouquet of flowers, begging to be let back into her life?
Director Nashwa Zaman cleverly paints a picture of desperation and trauma, and the ripple effect of actions both big and small. We don’t need to know what Daniel did to see how it has had a lasting effect on Alice and her family. At the end of the film, Alice simply stares out the window, as if she’s telling us she’ll always be looking out, always wondering when her father might appear once again.
Review By David Lombroso
You can find more of Nashwa Zaman’s work on Vimeo.
Cheer Up Baby was selected and screened for our VOL. 005 Series, February 17th, 2019