Movie Short Review: Leylak’

Greetings again from the darkness. We open on a team of masked gravediggers. Row after row of holes are being dug in the rocky terrain. A casket is lowered with no family or clergy present. Yusuf (Nadir Saribacak), one of the gravediggers, says a brief prayer over the casket prior to taking a phone call. The pandemic is at its peak in NYC.

Co-directors Scott Aharoni and Dennis Latos previously collaborated on other short films, and here they are working from a script by Mustafa Kaymak. Soon it’s clear that Yusuf lives in Queens, New York and he’s rushing home to take his eleven year-old daughter, Renk (Isabella Haddock), to the hospital to see her mother … who we infer is COVID-stricken. We don’t sense something amiss until Yusuf remains quiet when the taxi driver asks, “Sir, where are you going?”

The 15 plus months of pandemic have put so many people in situations for which they weren’t prepared … and couldn’t be expected to be prepared. This 16 minute short film has no wide shots. Every moment is intimate and personal, and the final shot of Yusuf, Renk, and the lilacs is at once both heart-breaking and heart-warming.

LEYLAK will screen at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival

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