Farzaneh Omidvania’s excellent Broken is a poignant fabric-puppet short film that, while peppered with humorous moments, there is a seriousness and tragic nature to her film about a disabled ex-soldiers new life and circumstance.
Everything is peaceful in a disabled pensioner’s apartment until an unknown aggressor repeatedly breaks the living room window.
The fact that the Broken is much more than just about a pensioner trying to find out who is breaking his window is what makes it work so well. Here we have a man who is constantly reminiscing about a time he was active and playing football. Free of his apartment, free from his wheelchair. This is a man who has severely lost his way, and the reoccurring window smashing is only adding to his despair.
It is important to note that we never actually see him leave the apartment; he merely sits there getting more riled up and even taking the drastic measure of having a shotgun pointed at the window to shoot whoever is tormenting him. This man has lost his leg in war and has never recovered from it. Maybe he feels alone in his disability, segregating himself from the world due to his trauma.
However, when that last ball comes through the window, and we eventually see who has been doing this, your heart breaks instantly. It immediately swells as you understand what that means, with the final moments having you openly smile to yourself. Despite the pain and trauma, people are able to keep going. They need someone to either help or be there merely to connect or relate with in some fashion. It really is a beautiful and touching scene that tops off an emotionally tragic film.
Though after watching Broken, you will probably agree that the star of the film is our pensioner’s pet chicken. A wonderfully quirky inclusion that should not work in a film that is, at times, deadly serious, but it does. Providing audiences with moments to chuckle, especially in the scene where it gets in the way of us trying to find out who this aggressor is. We even get a moment where it becomes a traumatised child as it watches him get up to some deeds with a sex worker.
Omidyania has that knack of telling the most compelling and tragic of stories but in the visual medium of puppets. You really do not expect a story with such serious undertones to be told in this manner, but with her past films such as Song Sparrow, Broken is astonishingly effective. Her inventiveness in using this medium to tell her stories is great, and there seems to be no sign of stopping her.
Broken is, at times, a sorrowful look at what has been taken from us. For our protagonist, it is the ability to go and be part of the community after his injury. The ability to go downstairs and confront the person destroying his windows. But, by the end of the film, it becomes one of optimism that just because you are in your situation right now, that doesn’t mean it will be that way forever; a sign of hope can be a smashed window away.
The 19th HollyShorts Film Festival is running between 10th – 20th August with in person and digital screenings available through the 10th to 27th August.
For more information go to www.hollyshorts.com
Coverage of HollyShorts Film Festival 2023:
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