Baby Steps (Short Film) ★★★★ Belfast Film Festival

Baby Steps (Short Film) ★★★★ Belfast Film Festival

A wonderful joy of a 9-minute short, Baby Steps takes us through the fears of going through a pregnancy. It is an entertaining and unexpectedly touching film; Hannah Mamalis has made a delightful gem.

Em (Hannah Mamalis) is 7 months pregnant and feels no connection to the baby inside her. She tries to follow the instructions of an outdated tape called How to Connect with Your Unborn Child – chaos ensues.

Hannah Mamalis’ near one-woman show pulls us in with plenty of laughs while still managing to touch her audience with some thoughtful moments. Her short film Baby Steps could easily keep along the lines of being a humour-filled jaunt about the doubts that arise within a soon-to-be mother during pregnancy. Yet she wants to leave us with something to ponder about as her character Em tackles this new world without someone important by her side.

Baby Steps gleefully, at times, tackles the struggles some mothers have in connecting with their unborn child. It could be for a multitude of reasons: unplanned pregnancy, not being emotionally ready to be a mother, or not having your own mother there to guide you through a time in your life when you need the most support, especially from a maternal standpoint. If, like Em, not all of the right things are where they should be in her life, then it is almost expected that a detachment and a sense of being overwhelmed will be present. Mamalis captures that so well with her clever script that it also manages to have us bursting out with laughter.

She also has a deft hand at directing, with the little moments like her and Gar (Gavin Drea) shaking hands just for the right amount of time for the payoff next shot to bring a laugh. Em becomes such a relatable character by trying to do everything the tape tells her. Who doesn’t want to have that connection with their child before they are born, to feel ready to love them immediately? She does as she is told, and it goes about as well as you would expect when you cut baby facial features out of a magazine to form your future child’s face as a visualisation. Yoga Baby Ball will haunt people more than some horrors.

Mamalis just has that perfect comic timing to carry off what she does here, touching into the right about of realism of someone doing their best and failing to have us feel for her and still laugh at her attempts. Her character feels so well-rounded, with little lines here and there to help flesh her out, that you become acutely aware of how talented she is as a multi-hyphenate creative. Wearing multiple hats is no mean feat, and she pulls it off here in Baby Steps with what looks like the greatest of ease.

If Baby Steps teaches us one thing about trying to make it through a pregnancy, it’s not to make a damn Yoga Ball Baby, as that is truly horrifying. Hannah Mamalis’ short is the type of film that becomes a showcase for the limitless talent that is Mamalis; she is a talent we need to keep an eye on.


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