by Sherif Awad
This week, I saw the online preview screening of an independent film called Missing Child that premiered in Boston International Film Festival 2014 where it received Indie Soul Best Actor for its co-star Charles Gorgano and Indie Soul Special Recognition Award for its director, co-star, producer, music composer and co-writer Luke Sabis. The film will be soon available on online platforms, which serve right now in giving voices to emerging filmmakers who could not compete to make their films available in giant multiplexes. Although many cinemas declined in recent weeks to show new films during their online premieres at the same time, I still believe that streaming is the way of the future.
Back to Missing Child by Luke Sabis whose filmography tells us that he was born in New York, did off-off-Broadway appearances then enrolled in the film program at Los Angeles City College where he finished this film that has the characteristic of many feature debuts in trying to discuss and dramatize many subjects in one film: child abuse, father-daughter relationships, falling in the webs of porno films and religion.
In the first scenes, we are introduced to Gia (Kristen Ruhlin) who appears to have a dark past in pornographic sites but now he is living a quiet life with her older boyfriend Joe (Sabis). One day, Gia comes across an ad about a missing child with a photo that could be hers during her childhood. She and Joe decides to follow the lead to visit the family who made this ad only to discover that they are living in a suburban home now only occupied by Henry (Charles Gorgano), an elderly widower who is offering a big reward to anyone reuniting him with his daughter. Inside the room of Henry’s daughter, Gia become uncertain of her memories that also include a possible abduction by her father. From his side, Henry who is a religious Christian quoting the bible and the Ten Commandments appears to be someone who had a darker past. In fact, all of those three main characters had darker motivations including Joe who reveals to be a dishonest man looking only for the cash offered by the old man. The film is 75 min long full of trials by its makers to shed the light on this trio, sometimes by flashbacks and sometimes by pieces of dialog.
Luke Sabis did a good job in his debut by moving around the restrictions of budget in shooting most of the film indoors and staging most of the its second half at Henry’s house. For a film debut, it shows the good characteristics of a good writer-director from whom we can expect more. Both Kristen Ruhlin and Charles Gorgano had a strong take on their consecutive characters, which also shows a good work by Sabis behind the scenes in giving directions to his own actors. While I was watching Missing Child, I was thinking of the early films by Brian De Palma and the Coen Brothers who were trying to create tensions the same way Hitchcock used to do. The question is: Will Luke Sabis continue in this genre to perfect his craft in the future? Time will tell…