HOLLYSHORTS 2020 FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW! In Doggerland, writer/director Jack Benjamin Gill eloquently and with searing verisimilitude portrays the lengths to which immigrants are willing to go to attain citizenship. It’s a quiet but scathing critique of the bureaucracy of our times that showcases a filmmaker with an instinctive, astute knowledge of the cinematic language. The fact that Doggerland marks his second short film is remarkable—an award-worthy, full-length feature is clearly in the cards for Gill soon.
Musa (a wonderfully restrained Taheen Modak) works at a carwash. His boss calls him over and lets him know that their plan is going ahead: Musa’s out to pick up mysterious cargo, and once he’s got it, he can’t stop till he gets back. Problems arise, of course, when Musa does, indeed, stop to take a peek. What he sees will change his life forever.
“… Musa’s out to pick up mysterious cargo, and once he’s got it, he can’t stop till he gets back…”
Who can blame Musa for resorting to such extremes? Are his criminal bosses to blame for making money this horrendous way? Or perhaps it’s the system itself that Gill condemns—a system that spawns these ouroboros-like cycles? All pertinent questions, whispered into our ears instead of shoved down down our gullet by the filmmaker.
The last few silent shots especially resonate. After Musa gets what he needed – what every human being should be entitled to, the right to live – at the expense of his very soul, the camera lingers on desolate, sparse images of the landscape, stacked shipping containers, and a highway. Despairing echoes drift over those images as if we just witnessed the essence of human cruelty and desperation. And then they’re gone.
Doggerland screened at the 2020 Hollyshorts Film Festival.
"…we just witnessed the essence of human cruelty and desperation..."