In writer-director Liam LoPinto’s wonderful short film, The Old Young Crow, an elderly Iranian man named Mehrdad (Hassan Shahbazi) reflects on his time in Tokyo as a child after the death of his mother. He recalls encountering an elderly woman named Chiyo (Keiko Yamashita) at a graveyard near his school.
Naoto Shibata plays Mehrdad as a young boy who, through his old sketchbook, revisits his childhood memories of Chiyo’s mysterious disappearance. This tale has many threads that intersect. Merhdad learns about Chiyos’s son at the child’s grave and is delighted by recurring visits from a crow who looks old but brings the energy of a younger bird.
“…recalls encountering an elderly woman named Chiyo at a graveyard near his school.”
The Old Young Crow combines live action and animation, seamlessly winding between them and shifting from past to present. LoPinto’s beautifully delivered drama maintains an overall joyful tone while infusing darker themes of loss, death, aging, and the sorrow of young Merhdad being displaced from his home and culture. He feels the weight of coming from one ancient culture to being a stranger in another that is entirely alien to him. There is also hope in the kindness shared between Chiyo and Mehrdad.
Of all formats, the short film is the most demanding of an artist. With The Old Young Crow, LoPinto uses this brief moment with the viewer to tell a story, delight with gorgeous visuals, and paint a broad palette of emotions.
"…paint[s] a broad palette of emotions."