Dear Mama … ★★★★ HollyShorts Film Festival

Dear Mama … ★★★★ HollyShorts Film Festival

Winter Dunn gets everything perfectly right in her latest short, Dear Mama … Grief comes in all forms, and Dunn capably shows us just how complex that feeling is. An emotional and powerful film that is tremendously led by its two talented leads.

Director: Winter Dunn

Cast: Mikayla Lashae Bartholomew, Garland Scott, P.L. Brown, Maleena Lawrence,

Jennifer Lauren DiBella

The death of Tupac draws different reactions from a father and his young daughter, forcing them to confront the emotional aftermath of their own tragedy.

Loss is a horrible demon; it never strikes you in the same way as it does with someone else, as we see in Winter Dunn’s magnificent Dear Mama… Both of our characters are coping in their own way, with Tanisha focusing on the memories of her mother and father trying to push them away. Thinking that if the memories are not there, it is easier to forget the person you lost. While this could work, it almost certainly has its drawbacks emotionally, and we see that play out here in Dear Mama …

With such a strong script from Charmaine Cleveland, Winter Dunn has a great platform to jump off and takes as much advantage with it as possible, pulling her audience in with a story that constantly moves you. Yet, as good as the story is, there is still work to be done to ensure that the story really grabs you as it needs to, luckily for us, she is more than capable of rising to the challenge and gives us a film that stays with you, even more so if you have lost a loved one at a young age.

There is a wonderful natural quality to the camerawork here in Dear Mama …; the use of an observational style allows for the film to flow so well. The focus going in and out unintended allows for this nightmare situation for the family to almost come across as a dream. Yet, everything shot has purpose and care put to it in a rather touching manner.

Mikayla Lashae Bartholomew and Garland Scott are phenomenal; you buy everything they do here. As someone who has been in their position, their authenticity in their emotional positions is what devastates you. Bartholomew’s Tanisha is struggling and is put in a position by her father where she cannot grieve. She is getting pushed to just trudging along like her father, like a zombie. But she isn’t made that way, and when the news hits about Tupac, the grief that she was packing away (literally) comes back up to the surface like a newly reopened wound. She may be grieving for the artist, but really she is getting the chance to grieve for her lost mother.

This is a complex role, and Batholomew carries it all in her stride and really has you thinking that this happened to her. Equally, Scott does some great refrained work. His emotions are bubbling up on the inside, ready to burst, but he is keeping it together not to be that strong shoulder for his daughter but for himself. As such, he has taken a slightly selfish position in pushing everything back emotionally and not ensuring that his daughter is getting the care that she needs, and goodness, does she need her father right now. Both actors deliver not only strong performances but ones that show they have the talent to spare, and there is hope that their careers get a good boost from this excellent film.

As said throughout, Dear Mama … feels as if we are seeing events happen as authentically as possible. Causing a serious sense of discomfort and a feeling that we are intruding on two people’s most fragile moments. It is a brilliant take that showcases the complexity of grief. Dear Mama … is a film that you relate to immediately if you have lost someone and even if you haven’t, it gives you an important glance at what it really feels like to lose a parent.

For more of our reviews of the festival, please check out below:


North Star


Act of God





How Do You Measure a Year?




Love, Dad

Paper Thin

Kickstart My Heart

Return to Sender

Skin & Bone

Aurinko In Adagio

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