Work ★★★★ HollyShorts Film Festival

Work ★★★★ HollyShorts Film Festival

Breakups can be messy endeavours, and for Marisela Zumbado’s Gabi, she needs to shake things up in April Maxey’s relatable film Work. This melancholy piece explores that longing for a connection with another person.

Director: April Maxey

Cast: Marisela Zumbado, Darlisa Ali, Star Amerasu, Elaine Whae, Jay Dathorne, Sarah Gordon


Gabi, unable to move on from a recent breakup, impulsively drops into an old job at an underground lap dance party, where she runs into a friend from her past.

Gabi is as lost as anyone is during a breakup, distracted and stand-offish at work; her mind is seemingly going a million miles a minute and what is best to help clear out some of those thoughts and feelings of a recent pain? By going back to a simpler, more jovial time. We all do it to ease the strains on our mental health. It just so happens that Gabi’s furore into her past is at a lap dance club.

Her loneliness drives her to the club, and she can hopefully move on and stop being as lost and lonely as she has been feeling by having that bit of control again. You are always yearning for that connection with another person, and even if it is with someone who was an ex-partner, your brain tells you it is okay. Being wounded romantically is difficult to work through, and Gabi sees her temptation. So reclaiming your own identity again and getting that connection is key to moving forward.

The use of her former job as a lap dancer is interesting as Maxey shows Gabi and the other characters working there as workers as if it is a normal 9-5 job. They are not desperate souls who are doing this due to having no other options. These women are choosing to do this, are getting ready and enjoying themselves. 

By giving us this viewpoint that their job is just another way to earn a living, it allows us to stop seeing the titillation of them as performers and see them as people in control of their lives. So, for example, other than seeing the odd glimpse or conversation, we never see the clients; the focus is on those who are working. It may be a simple thing to do, but it effectively communicates the viewpoint.

By returning to her former job and meeting those, she was able to shake some cobwebs from her mind, and it isn’t until she is alone to contemplate everything that she can move on. Finding oneself after a breakup is important, and as she looks at that gorgeously shot skyline, we feel as if Gabi is well on her way.

Maxey does some great work to get an intimate feel to the freshness of a breakup without ever going over the top with the original loss. It could be so simple to cut away from arguments or find out what was the real reason for the breakup. But, here in Work, she decides to remove that; the focus is on Gabi, and her next steps, so only when required do we get those flashbacks.

Work is a very smart film and one, as mentioned, that you can relate to with the greatest of ease. Maybe not as a lap dancer, but maybe in a scene or setting that you felt safe in. For Gabi, she felt safe there, so she goes there. The point stands, though, we have been in Gabi’s shoes before, and it isn’t pleasant; April Maxey depicts that perfectly.


The annual Academy Awards® Qualifying HollyShorts Film Festival will celebrate its 18th year August 11-20, 2022. HollyShorts (HSFF) brings together top creators, industry leaders, and companies and has launched many filmmakers into the next stages of their careers. HollyShorts, a regular on the MovieMaker Magazine Top 50 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee list, also engages its community and spotlights short films year-round through monthly screenings, panels, and networking events. 

The most recent edition of HollyShorts had six selections nominated for Academy Awards this year with two wins for Aneil Karia and Riz Ahmed’s The Long Goodbye and Ben Proudfoot’s Queen of Basketball.

HollyShorts Film Festival will take place in-person at the TCL Chinese Theaters in Hollywood, and stream via Bitpix TV,  with the annual Awards Gala set to take place on August 20, 2022. 

For tickets to the festival please click here.

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


North Star


Act of God





How Do You Measure a Year?


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