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The Independent Critic

Humberto Pedrancini, Debora Aquino, Juliana Drummond, Caio Cortonesi, Pietro Barbosa
Caio Cortonesi

 "Asra" a Meaningful, Resonant Short Film 

Caio Cortonesi's Brazilian short film Asra picked up the Best Screenplay prize at the Festival de Cinema de Caruaru and was also an Honorable Mention winner for Original Story at the Top Shorts Film Festival, both prizes an indicator that Cortonesi has crafted a compelling, constantly engaging short film with Asra. 

In the film, Omar has been entrusted by his father, a religious and traditionalist man, with helping the old man end his suffering as he is increasingly inflicted with unbearable pain by an incurable degenerative disease. The two have long had a difficult relationship, a difficulty that is worn in practically ever moment of the film's nearly 16-minute running time. Tasked with enlisting someone to help his father in his quest to end his suffering, Omar's own ability to act is often in question yet, perhaps, also never in doubt. 

Music by Ifall hypnotizes as the lens practically envelopes us and the characters in Cortonesi's simple yet poignant and memorable story that unfolds quietly, gently and with great intention. Asra is filled with a subtle sense or urgency, a clock's ticking seemingly counting down to something we understand but really don't. The film's cast brings the story beautifully to life, patiently living into Cortonesi's dialogue and allowing the words to linger and hang in the air. 

While Asra goes in some ways as one might expect, Cortonesi intelligently creates some uniqueness to the story and how everything unfolds in ways that are meaningful and quite beautiful. Cortonesi, who also plays Omar here, is gripping in his authenticity and comes fully to life alongside a marvelous Humberto Pedrancini. 

There is little else to be said without risk of giving too much away, though this beautifully photographed and structured short film may not get the stateside release it deserves until, one can only hope, it hits streaming channels. Asra marks a tremendous film for Cortonesi and one can't help but look forward to seeing where the filmmaker goes in the future. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic