SXSW 2021: “Are You Still There?”

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Accidents happen on the road. Whether it’s the result of a crash, fight, or just a dead car battery. But what can we do to come out of such a situation? Do we just call for help or try to be proactive and fix the situation by ourselves?

It’s hot weather conditions and Safa (Safa Tarifi) just drove to a small mall. She gets what was needed, however, when she returns back to her car, the engine won’t start. Facing an angry lady (Mardy Ma) and some other drivers, Safa, late at night, waits for her Mom (Rima Haddad)  to come to her rescue. The woman arrives, bringing no knowledge with herself about how to start the car. But as the two learn together, they connect in a whole new way.

The concept of “Are You There?” is very simple. From writer/director Sam A. Davis and Rayka Zehtabchi, the short film captures three possible scenarios Safa has to go through. She quietly de-escalates conflict with an impatient woman who wants Safa to move her car away from the parking lot. A man offered help, but she kindly refuses. She tries calling AAA, but the operator cannot fulfil her request, and finally when her Mom comes to help.

We normally believe that starting a car, or even fixing it, is a man’s job. But thanks to YouTube and the two wonderful lead characters of this film, they change that misconception by proving that it doesn’t matter if it’s the first time or not – it’s not that big a deal to jump-start a car if one follows instructions properly. As I said earlier, it’s about a daughter-mother relationship too, how it evolved over the day and its epic culmination, in which, you will be simply happy for both achieving the successful result as a team.

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