Young Ahmad (Julien Oblette) is running from some bullies when he encounters another, older gang of men. In a moment of pity, or perhaps just a flexing of muscles, the older crew scares off the bullies, saving Ahmad. Later on that evening, Ahmad sees the older gang in the process of stealing a car and alerts them to the presence of a policeman. In appreciation for his thoughtful favor, the crew pulls Ahmad in for the night.
Led by the dominant Fadi (Omid Harrison), this crew begins to test Ahmad’s ideas of what it is to belong, particularly within their circle. Power postures and politics abound, and before the evening ends, Ahmad will have to choose where he stands, as just another one of the crew or something else entirely.
Broken Cycle delves into the dynamics of power and self through the eyes of Ahmad at a crossroads. The gang he’s suddenly found himself in may seem to offer some comfort, but to what end is it just an extension of the same bullied life he’s already living in, only now within the peer pressure of a new situation? How much of himself must he forfeit to run with the crew? Clifton Archuleta’s short film offers ample opportunity to ponder these questions and more for those willing to experience this day in Ahmad’s life, and really imagine what it would be like to be in his shoes.
Beyond the consideration of the narrative, the film delivers on the technical side as well, making the immersion that much easier to experience. Despite so much of the film being out in the open, there is a feeling of tightening space about the entire piece, and the imagery becomes almost claustrophobic as the dynamics of the new social cell Ahmad has found himself in continue to encroach on his sense of self. A solid, powerful filmmaking effort all around.
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