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Standing Woman (2021) Review

Standing Woman is the latest short film from Tony Hipwell whose feature Zomblogalypse we recently reviewed, and the two couldn’t be more different if they tried. This is a very serious and sombre piece adapted from a short story by Yasutaka Tsutsui the Japanese writer who also wrote the likes of Paprika and The World Sinks Except Japan.

Pitched to the populace as a program to help fight climate change, planting involves literally turning criminals, dissidents and anyone else that displeases the government into trees. It’s a slow process, and the victim remains conscious and aware of what’s happening. Something that can appeal to both those who worry about the environment and the most sadistic of the “get tough on crime” demographic.

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Tom (Anton Thompson, How to Survive the End of the World) is a propaganda filmmaker in a near-future authoritarian England. His wife Mari (Yuriri Naka, The Forest) had been a news announcer for them until her comments resulted in her being planted. He knows for his own good he should forget her and go on with his life, but he can’t fight the urge to see her and say goodbye.

When Max sent me the first draft of the Standing Woman adaptation she was working on as part of a PhD research project, I was immediately enraptured by the world it presented. In a time of rising authoritarianism and a growing intolerance for different cultures and perspectives, a story following an extreme, yet chillingly believable end result of these movements that weaponized the fight for climate change was impossible to ignore.

Tony Hipwell

Standing Woman uses its fifteen-minute runtime not just to look at authoritarianism, but at mankind itself. Through a filter of not just eco-horror but body horror, Hipwell and writer Max Gee look at what makes us what we are and why we do, or accept what is done to, others. It’s not a coincidence Tom worked selling the government’s policies to the people.

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The makeup for those in the various stages of vegification is effective, even if it frequently looks like something from an old episode of Dr. Who. But that’s a small complaint considering Standing Woman was shot on a low budget.

Standing Woman has played several festivals including Fantasia, FrightFest and Dead Northern. It plays Sunday, November 14th, as part of the Leeds International Film Festival. You can check the film’s Facebook page for other screenings.

Our Score
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