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The Independent Critic

Felix Fang, Makayla Gatmaitan, Leann Lei
Jiaqi Lin
18 Mins.


 "The Red House" Set to Screen at Seattle Shorts Film Festival 

Set in 1915 rural China, The Red House tells the story of FangFang (Felix Fang), a 25-year-old prostitute struggling to raise enough money after 14 years to buy back her contract and attain her freedom. The sudden arrival of a 6-year-old child, Amei (Makayla Gatmaitan), being sold by her desperate parents causes FangFang to reconsider her choices when she is placed in charge of the child's training including the ritual of binding together her feet to keep them small. 

The Red House has proven, for good reason, to be a wildly popular dramatic short on the film festival circuit having screened at nearly two dozen film festivals and picked up a handful of prizes along the way including Best Student Film at Dam Short Film Festival, Best Narrative Short - College at the Garden State Film Festival, a Jury Award at the Riverside Film Festival and a monthly screening prize at HollyShorts among others. Written and directed by Jiaqi Lin, The Red House is a moving film featuring a stellar performance by young Makayla Gatmaitan, a six-year-old actrees who got her first acting experience at the age of four in a Jeep commercial. I certainly wouldn't be surprised if we hear more from her in the future. 

Felix Fang is also terrific here, authentically bringing to life the struggles of a young woman whose introduction to prostitution occurred in much the same way as is happening for Amei. Fang's journey is heartwrenching, though for those raised in such a tradition it feels like an honest journey that has likely been replayed far too often. Leann Lei is also strong as Mama Yan, whose quiet presence can't conceal her disciplinarian tendencies and the iron first with which she rules her brothel. 

Donald M. Morgan's lensing is crisp and beautiful for the film that was actually shot in Los Angeles, though one must truly give kudos for writer/director Jiaqi Lin's intelligent yet heartfelt portrayal of a slice of life that is beautifully realized and feels somehow complete within the span of a mere nine minutes. 

The Red House is screening as part of the Women in Film Block at the Seattle Shorts Film Festival going on from November 11-14. For more information on the festival, visit the Seattle Shorts website. 

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic