The Marshall Islands-based filmmakers Jack Niedenthal and Suzanne Chutaro helmed this charming short about the pursuit of personal responsibility taken to an unlikely extreme. In this case, a young boy is told by his grandmother that he can receive a promised gift of ice cream only if he picks up the garbage and relocates a flip-flop that has been lost. The child takes his task very seriously, going across his entire neighborhood in search of litter to be collected while keeping an eye peeled for the missing footwear.
The magic in “Zori” is based in the wonderful performance by young Maxter Tarkwon, who brilliantly essays the central character’s work with a range of credible emotions. Although he is physically tired from the litter pick-up, he presses on with plucky determination as the image of the much-desired ice cream flashes before him. His imagination kicks into high gear when uses a discarded towel as a cape and a jettisoned pole and hubcap as a sword and shield. And the pride that he ultimately puts into his work when he presents his collected litter to his grandmother can melt any heart.