There is nothing wrong with this short’s approach to its subject matter. Aftermath details how two siblings deal with the death of their parents through the use of restrained storytelling and by focusing on the emotions contained within movement and silence, rather than lumping everything into the dialogue. The crucial problem here is that director Tofic Rzayev has shot the end of a feature film rather than a short, and therefore the emotional content falls flat due to not having been previously set up. A short film has to be complete, succinct and crisp. Ideally it will be an idea which has been crystallised into its purest form – a haiku instead of The Odyssey if you will.
Temporarily ignoring the fact that Rzayev’s script hasn’t been condensed from a feature’s climax into a short, there are some positive things to say about it. The dialogue (subtitled English) is emotionally loaded, and given how much it has to convey in so little time its pretty effective. The short certainly doesn’t fail in creating an emotional and tragic atmosphere and the actors, particularly Gizem Aybike Sahin, manage to wring every drop of emotion they can out of what they have been given. There’s also the fact that the script avoids showing the parents in anyway which is certainly worthy of praise; there are no cheesy flashbacks to them when they were alive and the film also avoids showing us how they died, and yet their presence hangs over the film like a dark cloud.
The good work that is done here is unfortunately undermined by the somewhat amateur camera work. There is the possibility that the constantly wobbling camera is intentional in order to create a sense of ‘realism’, but to me it reeks of somebody who doesn’t know how to position and control a camera. Regardless of whether it’s a deliberate move or not, it only adds to Akibet‘s unpolished feel. There’s potential on display here but it is lost on a project which was doomed from the start. Perhaps if this was attempted as a feature or a long short (around 30mins) it would have been more successful, but then again I think the theme of dealing with loss can be dealt with in a handful of minutes if approached correctly. As it stands the film is mildly affecting, but if it had been condensed and focused it could have developed its promise into something greater.
What is the film’s greatest strength? Actress Gizem Aybike Sahin manages to draw something affecting out of the material she is given.
Its greatest weakness? It doesn’t function as a short film.
Would I see it again? Not this one, but it would be interesting to see what Rzayev does next.
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