Reviews of the festival: Boneshaker

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WALLIS’S WAY

“Medicine will not heal her. I know prayer will.”

Frances Bodomo’s short film Boneshaker stars Beast of the Southern Wild star Quvenzhane Wallis as a child believed by her parents to be afflicted by a spirit. The audience meets the family—father, mother, grandmother and 2 girls—en route church.

Wallis opens the film screaming, grandmother gamely trying to placate the child. The shot switches from oppressive to expansive when the family stops to ask for directions. They find the church but in less obvious ways the family may have lost its way.

Too short to be an examination or exploration of the generational difference in the immigrant experience of Africans in the US, Boneshaker hints at that experience and works mainly as a conveyor of wonder. Its ultra-vivid photography and brilliant directing aside, Boneshaker is Wallis’s acting vehicle. Watching her in the film’s opening moments and the ‘exorcism’ scene, it is plausible that training a camera and letting her do as she pleases will be no less compelling.

Shot before Beasts of the Southern Wild, but released later, Boneshaker is pre-confirmation of the girl’s talent—as the world would later aver.