THE SHIPMENT (2019)
The reformed man faced with the prospect of returning to his past ways is a staple of fiction. It’s a fairly universal one too that turns up most cultures and genres. In the 30 minute short The Shipment, it’s Kaidan (Aleks Paunovic, War For The Planet Of The Apes, Van Helsing). A former slave trader, he and his daughter Zohra (Ishana Bala) are stranded on a rundown spaceport. He’s offered a big payday to make one more run by Etienne (Omari Newton) and Rotik (Robert Maillet, Killer Waves, Polar). Will desperation win out over his conscience and his daughter’s objections?
In the film’s publicity writer/director Bobby Bala is referred to as a VFX artist turned home theater seating entrepreneur. I’m assuming he did effects for commercials and such because IMDB doesn’t list any other effects credits for him. Regardless of where his experience came from The Shipment does feature excellent VFX. Several of the scenes reminded me of the Star Wars franchise in both their quality and overall look. I should add there are a few shots that are obviously old school matte paintings. I’ll take that over bad CGI any day, however.
The story itself isn’t anything groundbreaking, but it is told effectively. Kaidan is stuck with a ship he can’t fix and no way out of the situation he and his daughter are in. That is until he’s offered a deal in return for returning to his old occupation one more time. his choices are believable and the film never really overplays the morality of the situation. The relationship between father and daughter reminded me of Prospect at times.
Bala has said the story came from his concerns about migration and human smuggling, which is in the news constantly now. And to convey the idea that sometimes good people do bad things for good reasons. The Shipment’s central conflict certainly reflects that.
The Shipment is currently on the festival circuit and has picked up a couple of awards already. Its next appearance will be at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival later this month. You can get times and information here. Details of future showing can be found on the film’s Facebook page.