With a subtext much deeper than may initially seem evident, Ali Matlock's 14-minute short film Shadows of the Dust kicked off its indie fest run at the DC Independent Film Forum and has already picked up prizes at the 2022 Calcutta International Cult Film Festival (Best Short Film) and the 2022 Monkey Bread Tree Film Awards (Best Short Film) with upcoming screenings scheduled for this weekend's NC Black Film Festival and April's Soul 4 Reel Film Festival.
There's no doubt the film's success has just begun.
The film centers around a couple, Charlie (Daniel Rios Jr.) and Terri (Brie Covington), who've taken a weekend getaway to experience a once in a lifetime celestial event. However, what was planned as an incredibly special weekend becomes an awful lot more following a series of inexplicable events.
In sharing the film, Matlock noted that Shadows of the Dust's subtext provides an analogy for the cycle of social injustice that many people find impossible to escape. Watching the film, it's clear that Matlock has pulled off a film that weaves together elements of a thriller along with these quietly portrayed social justice themes.
Shadows of the Dust benefits from fine performances by both Rios and Covington, both of whom pull off the film's larger than life elements while also believably portraying a comfortable, intimate couple. Matlock's direction is confident and strong despite the challenges of low-budget filmmaking and the cinematography from Chris Skiles nicely taps into the film's more suspenseful elements while also bringing us close enough to Charlie and Terri that we become invested in their evolving story. Music from Ecto Des complements the film's solid production values quite nicely. Matlock co-write the film's script with Jubei Powers and the story that unfolds builds up that suspense nicely with a pacing that keeps you hanging in there.
Yes, there are times when Shadows of the Dust's budgetary constraints show, though this is ultimately a story about the people and Matlock weaves it all together quite nicely.
Shadows of the Dust is still early in its festival journey and it'll be exciting to watch the film continue to grow from here and to watch for future efforts from Ali Matlock.