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Sundance 2020 Review: "Paola Makes a Wish" (2019) ★★★


There are many aspects for a man or woman to feel happy and fulfilled. Indeed, a good education, an excellent job, and well-earned money can contribute towards that success. However, there’s another element in life that is as important as the aforementioned aspects – sexual life. What do men need from women and vice versa? The short film from Zhannat Alshanova, “Paola Makes a Wish”, exhibits the woman’s perspective on her expectation from her long or short-term partner after allowing a man to be part of her intimate life.

“Paola Makes a Wish” follows two women in an undisclosed location where the two, as they cook in the kitchen, talk about their sensuality, their way of being involved with a man, and how far they can go if they feel comfortable enough with him to go deeper into their sexual desires. As they discuss the pros and cons of men and women when it comes to sex, the two stop at nothing to let each other be comfortable enough to discuss their intimate life while a third woman, busy cooking, shows absolutely no reaction whatsoever.

Written and directed by Zhannat Alshanova, “Paola Makes A Wish” is a stand-out short film that does not hesitate to open up and explore a sensitive subject matter that is equally crucial for both the sexes to know about. As it may not reveal much, it captures all the different aspects of intimacy by letting men be a part of it. The closing scene where a man and woman are seen sitting next to each other as they study their next actions is priceless. There’s not much dialogue required to understand what the two are going through and leaves you with food for thought after the screen fades to black. But the fact that Zhannat Alshanova’s camera was able to capture that is an excellent milestone for any filmmaker at her level.

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