BROOKLYN – Running simultaneously with the 10th Annual New York City Greek Film Festival was the Bushwick Film Festival, which, although not predominantly Greek, did feature one film edited and produced by a Cypriot during its Short Film Program 4: Survival at the House of Yes on October 2, 2016.
Consommé, edited by Minos Papas and produced by his company, Cyprian Films, ends with a graphic scene that left the audience gasping in shock.
In the six-minute film, a woman storms out of her Brooklyn home after a fight with her boyfriend. Walking alone at night, Kali encounters threats all too familiar to most women: a car that creepily follows her and a man who walks behind her too closely.
Written and directed by Catherine Fordham, Consommé hits the nail on the head when it comes to portraying the vulnerability and microaggressions women face on the streets.
Consommé’s protagonist represents one of the many women raped each year. “One out of every six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime,” according to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network).
Papas’ film editing makes for a charged scene. Quick cuts depict the violence with which the assaulter, played by Parker Madison (Manhattan Love Story), pummels Kali, played by Monica West (Chicago Fire).
He leaves her with a black eye, before raping her. Then, for a moment, the film slows down. The lingering shot of West’s face is haunting. It is a difficult scene to watch, and one that is hard to scrub from one’s memory.
Kali fights back against her attacker. Summoning all her rage and power, she finds a way to overpower him. The music rises, and we feel victorious along with her. She makes us feel powerful. The next morning we see the gory results of the heroine’s defensive strategy.
Without spoiling too much, let’s just say that during the Q&A session Fordham said they used pig guts to get the scene right.
Consommé does not settle well in the stomach. It’s a difficult film to digest. On the one hand, it is feminist manifesto at its best—the autonomous, self-reliant woman.
It’s got the riot grrrl soundtrack to boot. We want all women to be such pillars of strength. Victors. Therein lies the potential flaw of the film.
The other hand is that—even if unintentional—the film sets up a dichotomy between those who are able to fight off their attacker and those who aren’t.
We cheer for the woman who avenges her attacker. How would we react if she were not able to do the same?
The film subtly suggests that women who are unable to fight off their attacker, those who freeze in fear, those who comply to avoid getting further assaulted, are victims or worse.
The film was produced by Cyprian Films, New York (CFNY) and Top Salt Studio. The latter is spearheaded by Fordham, with West, Natalie, Johnson, and Erin Nelson. Cyprian Films is a production company managed by Papas.
He is the son of internationally acclaimed film director Michael Papas (Tomorrow’s Warrior), who hails from Nicosia. Minos Papas earned a BFA from the School of Visual Arts.
(By STEPHANIE NIKOLOPOULOS)