2021 Art of Brooklyn Film Festival

'Only Connect' (Drama Shorts Block #1) Encore Screening

Expired June 13, 2021 3:59 AM
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Relationships, right? These are personal stories about connecting. And not.

The film begins with scenes of a burlesque show at an open love party. Music and burlesque dancers seduce the patrons. Jack, while distracted by the elaborate and decadent food offerings, becomes increasingly uncomfortable as his wife, Ruby, flirts and later goes home with Rex, a non-binary burlesque performer. While Jack hesitantly agreed to an “open marriage” on this night as a birthday gift to his wife, he nonetheless feels emasculated. This is the first power shift away from Jack, the classic male, “master of the universe”, weakening his control and providing the audience with a variant perception inconsistent with the traditional marital paradigm.

Jack, sad and alone, leaves the party having not found a match. Outside the party, Jack is pleasantly surprised to see Tanya, a beautiful young womxn. Tanya, who has been working at the party as a side hustle, is hungry. Jack convinces Tanya to come over to his apartment. In a tender moment, they light Hanukkah candles together and bond over their shared Jewish backgrounds. Tanya, a Jewish, Russian refugee, is rediscovering her roots. Aware of Jack’s wealth, Tanya hopes he will fund her performing arts non-profit and become her sugar daddy. Jack is open to the idea. This is when the story takes a turn, once again shifting the power dynamic from the stereotypical “sugar daddy” story the audience is teased with to a deeper more complex relationship between Jack and Tanya.

Jack offers Tanya an “Omakase berry” – the best strawberry in the world. What follows is a fantasy scene in the classic “male gaze” style. The “strawberry fantasy” is filmed in a sensual, erotic style depicting Tanya licking juicy strawberries and feeding Jack, lying back in Tanya’s lap in a passive/submissive position - zabaglione sauce dripping from the strawberries and Tanya’s mouth on Jack’s face, reminiscent of pornography. This powerful reversal of the historic trope during this fantasy scene is abruptly interrupted when Tanya says “do you still fuck your wife?” – this question jolts Jack out of his daydream as he confronts the truth that he rarely makes love with his wife. Tanya then, innocently, strikes a second blow by asking “does she like it?” Jack, in a moment of recognition, is unclear as to whether or not he has been a good sexual partner to his wife. Tanya, again, emasculates Jack while casually devouring strawberries.

This scene is the crescendo in the short. Jack, while seemingly “having it all”, is faced with the stark reality that he may have been an inadequate partner to his wife. In a moment of compassion and possibly opportunity, Tanya offers to “cuddle” with Jack, providing him with the intimacy he carves. The film concludes with a montage of Jack and Tanya cuddling, and Ruby and Rex sensually kissing and caressing in a bathtub presumably before or after sex.

  • Year
  • Runtime
    14 minutes
  • Language
  • Country
    United States
  • Director
    Stacey Maltin
  • Screenwriter
    Margarita Zhitnikova
  • Producer
    Margarita Zhitnikova, Jackie Schwartz, Eden Martinez, Jeffrey Weber
  • Cast
    Jeffrey Weber, Margarita Zhitnikova, Jordan Bayne, Sherill-Marie Hernriquez, Sibyl Santiago, Jenilyn Rodriguez, Jay DeYonker, Daniel Hidalgo Alonso