›› The Symphony of Silence
a mini-feature by Cedric Thomas Smith.
2012 | 40 mins | US.
principal players: Ben Carlee / Zachary, Anthony Guajardo / Sean, Veronica Orosco / Christina, George Cisneros / Michael, Michael Maponga / Marco, Yasmine Al-Bustami / Monica, Alyssa Bernal / Ashley, Duran Antonio / Luke, Jaeda Jones / Heather, Andrew Navarro / Steven, David DeLao / Mr Jacobs and Pamela Hardy as Principal Marshall.
Official Synopsis: "Seventeen-year-old student Zach struggles to survive in the "dog eat dog" world of high school, where he is tormented daily by bullies. Unfortunately, he can't find comfort at home, since one of the bullies happens to be his older brother, Sean."
Here there's no doubting that writer and director Cedric Thomas Smith is a man with his heart in the right place and a big heart at that too, having gone out of his way to highlight the alarming fact that out of every four students in the US, one is bullied on a daily basis at school; a disturbing and frankly shameful statistic. To that end, this short achingly details the loneliness and very suffering of one such individual; lovable gay boy Zach, touchingly played by Ben Carlee, who and in spite of the school's zero tolerance policy to bullying, together with the outstretched arms of compassion from his supportive parents and in particular the unconditional love of his mother, finds himself seemingly alone in a world that "shuns me for being what I did not choose to be."
Sure, there's a few negatives in the mix, with the climactic confrontation scene between Zach and his homophobic sibling staged too fast for my liking, with the whole production I dare say too saccharine-coated for some and here cue the at times over sentimental dialogue and a string score that would be OTT, even on a daytime soap.
Seemingly alone in the world in The Symphony of Silence.
Yet interwoven within this tapestry of emotions is many a narrative twist and turn; from a bully facing the brutal consequence of his actions, to Zach's recitation of the self-penned poem "My Name," one that ever so poignantly illustrates the destructive impact that incessant bullying has on the mind of the victim, now driven to the edge. Indeed, as a cinematic sermon on the shocking state of bullying, be it homophobic or other that prevails in the classroom to this day, this short film has a lot going for it, given Smith has not only addressed the vile act of bullying itself, but in particular the Symphony of Silence that all too often goes hand in hand with it, namely those that turn their heads to look the other way, in a world in which - bullying should never be tolerated. And that is a message that cannot be spoken loud enough, given the all too high suicidal rate amongst the LGBT youth of today.
Gay Visibility - overt.
Nudity - none.
Overall - file under ... 3+ stars.