HOLLYSHORTS 2020 FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW! The Sierra Leone civil war – which took the lives of an estimated 70,000 civilians – had roughly 11,000 children participate in the conflict. Darrell Lake pays tribute to those children and civilians in his remarkable short Land of Dry Bones, a potent drama about how our past is embedded in us; the more horrendous our past, the more we try to suppress it. Inadvertently (I assume) paying tribute to David Cronenberg’s masterpiece A History of Violence, Lake focuses on the moment when something triggers the demons to come bursting out.
Emmanuel (Samir Gumaneh) is a young boy questioned by a psychiatrist (Tim Lane) about his harrowing childhood. With a distant look in his eye, the boy claims he doesn’t remember what happened. Years later, Emmanuel (Darrell Lake) grows up to be a seemingly content man with a lovely wife and daughter (Reid Cox and Ariel Trent). A highly intense confrontation in the parking lot dredges up Emmanuel’s past. Mariama (April Grace) happens to witness Emmanuel’s fury and recognizes in him a child she once knew.
“A highly intense confrontation in the parking lot dredges up Emmanuel’s past.”
Lake clearly devoted his heart to this project. He’s fierce as the lead, his Emmanuel both caring and deeply unsettled, constantly experiencing inner turmoil and attempting to live with it. Reid Cox leaves a mark as Sarah, his wife, who suspects his husband is not all he’s made out to be and now has to deal with the consequences.
One overly tearful moment aside, Lake displays complete control over his masterful framing of action sequences, skillful directing of actors, in addition to crafting an effective sociopolitical commentary and a treatise on “unboxing our memories” and PTSD. What other goals could a filmmaker wish to attain in a 14-minute film? Bravo.
Land of Dry Bones screened at the 2020 Hollyshorts Film Festival.
"…clearly devoted his heart to this project."