Short Film Review: ‘O Pai’ (2020)

+ Recommended – NR, Drama, Historical Fiction (7 minutes)


History punishes those who are late…

Director Tiago Abubakir and co-producer/writer Luis Humberto Campos have conceived a delicious, bite-sized historical experience masked as a short film. Made on a minuscule budget, the pair of filmmakers successfully convey a fictionalized story that very well, indeed, could pass for a reenactment of historical events.

After a severe earthquake and fire, Portugal faces hard times: the guardian of the kingdom, called “Great Father,” falls ill, and the Black Baron (Humberto Campos), on behalf of the Army, assumes power as regent. Queen Mariana Vitoria (Ivone Biscaia) and Princess Maria I (Ana Catarina Lima) must struggle to keep their place in the palace, as the people – hungry and miserable – cry out for revolution and freedom, threatening the integrity of royalty.

Official Synopsis

Also known as The Great Father, O Pai is a student-produced short film from Salvador, Brazil. Based on the true events of the Great Lisbon Earthquake in 1755, where death and destruction persisted, The Great Father‘s advantage is simplicity; breezing over the needless complications of CG, and opting for a more intimate approach in storytelling. A bold choice, and one that could have had damning consequences if the dialogue couldn’t hold the weight of the entire story.

Luckily, title cards (separating the sequence of events) and brief exchanges of dialogue more than suffice. Thus, the importance of setting and atmosphere are enhanced. Costuming is on-par with the time period which ensures a guaranteed level of believability, while the shooting locations are confined and restrictive–securing the feeling of historical accuracy and consistency. Indeed, there are certain thematic elements to the film, even if it is student-led. Namely, how absolute power corrupts, absolutely, in times of desperation.

Abubakir’s editing is purposeful: adding additional tension to the dire situation at-hand. Not everything is shown on screen, intentionally leaving some of the action to the viewer’s mind. It is a smart decision, especially for a short film on an estimated budget of $475. Perhaps, the most credit should be given to Ivone Biscaia and Ana Catarina Lima, who elevate and expand the scripted material; if not for their convincing performances, the short simply couldn’t achieve the same affect.

An allegorical piece, such as this, doesn’t just require your attention: it demands it. Timeless, in nature–and serviceable in beauty, and temperance–The Great Father is a tasty, filmic treat to enjoy in just seven short minutes. It is currently running the festival circuit, and you can find a link to the film’s website here:

Alongside Luiz Humberto Campos, I managed to get this short-film produced. After a two-year pre-production work, in which the script was carefully written (and rewritten), we were able to make a visually believable period piece, with strong performances and rather interesting directing, despite the lack of financial resources. Being an allegory to the Enlightenment (one of the most transformative movements in human history), THE GREAT FATHER illustrates the popular revolutions that shook the prevailing social order and that consolidated the “century of lights.” – Director Tiago Abubakir


Image via FilmFreeway

Image via FilmFreeway

Author: Jared Charles

I am the owner of The Burrow Reviews. Currently studying Film, English, Political Science, and Gender Studies.

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