1959. Desperate, branded, forgotten by the law, Female Convict #1031 fights to stay alive in the concrete womb. Condemned by her fellow inmates and in her own mind, #1031 expects the worst. When a new inmate, Laura (#1059), is brought into the cell, #1031's paranoia grows. Is this striking Blonde to be her ally, or possibly, her executioner? Written by
In a short film just 14-minutes in length, you would think little could be concluded. But in Oren Shai's Condemned, we can confirm that in just a quarter of an hour, Shai knows how to work a camera and direct a film and he should be put on the 'to-watch' list going forward.
Condemned takes place in 1959 where a female convict (Margaret Anne Florence) only identified as #1031lives in her concrete jail cell. She is convinced she is going to die and that the warden set her up as a snitch. Fated by her fears and the expectation of impending death by the hands of fellow inmates, she receives a new cellmate Laura (#1059). Laura (Aprella) is a confident good-looking blonde who #1031 immediately identifies as her executioner ("Sure she was a blonde, but she had the hands of a killer).
With a parole hearing in 28 days and an inmate, an unsympathetic prison guard (Ashlie Atkinson) and a new cellmate that just might be her executioner, inmate #1031 looks to survive, or at least, for someone to tell the devil that she is coming.
In just less than 14 minutes, Oren Shai shows a directing confidence that evokes a Tarantino-grindhouse comparison. His use of music, lighting and framing suggests the work of a veteran filmmaker, not someone who has but one other short, Heavy Soul (2005) under his filmography belt.
Much of the weight of the film falls on the narrative and the acting chops of the three stars and Shai is able to get the best out of all three leads in performances that are rare for an independent short.
There isn't much that happens in Condemned. There are no explosions, no prison lesbian scenes or black humor to break the mood. Instead, there is just a short snippet of a story, told expertly and directed by a craftsman that we will continue to watch to (hopefully), feature films.
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