January 14th – Short Film Review

A young couple’s anniversary takes a bittersweet turn when a police officer pulls the husband over on a questionable traffic stop. Inspired by true events, January 14th is a personal story combined with a social issue that resonates prominently within the African-American community.

This short film, like so many others with a similar topic, is so powerful in conveying a range of feelings and real-lifesituations without feeling over the top. It’s awful that we see it being inspired by true events, but they have been used to inspire a story with realness and dignity. For me, this film stands out compared to similar ones through its use of a daytime setting with bright lights. Often, we see these films set at night to add to the idea of danger and confusion. InJanuary 14th however, we are presented with a light, bright day, suggesting nothing bad will happen. It amplifies that people live in fear and deal with awful stereotypes their whole lives, it’s nothing to do with status, location, and time. Sure, these factors may heighten situations, but if something is going to happen, it’ll happen. By using the light, we were able to see the pureness and truth of the couple affected.

Adding to the powerful storytelling, we see this playout in a non-linear format, showing us the date of the event and two years later. It cleverly didn’t reveal this until closer to the end, showing us how families are highly affected by these situations and can find it hard to ever feel ok again.

I found the police officer character written really well. In other films and in news articles, we see these people as figures of power, but they often push it too far based on racism. Their reaction after the event was perfect, showing how people want to push others down but as soon as it goes wrong, they wish they could change it. It adds to the ideas that have been sweeping the world with the Black Lives Matter movement and the want to defund the police, and to show the true feelings of someone in this situation was a great decision, really highlighting how awful and unneeded these uses of power can often be.

Written and directed by La’Chris Jordan, this short film is emotional. Being based on a true story partnered with the way it’s told, we as an audience are left shocked but also with a fight to continue pushing for what is right.

Learn more about the Global Voices Film Festival – https://www.globalvoicesfilmfestival.org

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