Friday, April 22, 2011

Tribeca ’11: Braid (short)

Kids focus on the most superficial things. Ting is a sweet-tempered, compassionate little girl, but her classmates zero-in on her sloppy braids. It is not her fault though. Her grieving father Jie is not used to tying them. Nor does he have the heart to explain her mother’s extended absence in Chun-Yi Hsieh’s short film Braid (trailer here), which screens as part of the Take As Directed shorts block at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival.

One day, while being ignored by the kids playing in her neighborhood, Ting finds an abandoned kitten. Empathizing with the motherless feline, she takes it home with her. Her father is trying to care for her as best he can, but he is overwhelmed with grief. Unemployed with little prospects, the death of his wife was also a devastating financial blow. Things look truly bleak for them, but keep an eye on that kitten.

Chun-Yi Hsieh’s fifteen minute Braid is surprisingly moving, particularly for a student film. Sensitively helmed, the Taiwanese filmmaker deftly hints at the metaphysical with the conclusion to what is an otherwise starkly naturalistic work. Unquestionably though, the key to the film is the remarkably poignant, completely convincing work of Jun-Jie Du as Ting. Scores of viewers will want to adopt her two or three minutes into the film.

Braid might be a simple story, but it is powerful in its honest directness, reaching deeper places than most smugly sentimental indies could ever hope to approach. Featuring truly memorable performances, the well conceived Braid is easily a stand-out among Tribeca’s shorts this year. Highly recommended, it screens during the Take As Directed program next Thursday (4/28), Saturday (4/30), and Sunday (5/1).