A story shouldn’t be less structured because it’s a short film.

One recent reviewer’s favorite is Victor Gabriel‘s Hallelujah. This picture did more for human ideals than most recent Hollywood films.

The twist is more than effective even if it doesn’t follow the expected formula. A distinct avenue of connection made it emotionally appealing.

Five, made alongside Hallelujah, is a radically different film. A story that is more grounded and based on a family tragedy. But the design is unique. That’s what sets Five apart from other films. Even full-length movies.

Malcolm, a young man from prison, is released in Five. He was convicted of a pretty serious crime when he was a teenager. His mute stare reveals an emotional scar. Following Islam’s teachings, Malcolm prays five times daily and confesses his sins.

But his home has changed. His mother has abandoned any hope of forgiveness and writes him icy, sloppy notes. No job, no hope for Malcolm! Only a fellow ex-con appears to grasp his situation. Malcolm faces his emotional load when he meets his history.

Finding forgiveness in the streets where he grew up and become the monster his mother fears is impossible.

Jacob Romero Gibson portrays Malcolm in a precise performance that is not in the actor’s comfort zone. He must play Malcolm in both “lives,” and the actor does an outstanding job of telling the story with his body. J.D. Hall and Hilary Ward provide the story’s balance. Malcolm’s journey to being a mature, forgiven man. But he must first forgive himself. And he doesn’t.


It’s where Duran Jones‘ script feels like a pin, preventing the tale from becoming overly dramatic. Jones focuses on Malcolm and his quest for acceptance. But our natural impulse is to judge. We, the audience, think it’s fair for Malcolm to pay for his mistakes. Jones transforms Malcolm into a mute spirit that simply needs to move on. Even if unintentional, his crime is nonetheless a crime. He definitely paid for it. We continue with Malcolm with this positive thought.

For some, religion represents hope and opportunity. For an ex-convict, it may be a secure place to dig deep until they find atonement. But Malcolm is far from reformed; his burden is too great. Five can be found in the grey area between monsters and men.

A sensitive conductor like David Orates is essential in today’s independent filmmaking. One of the most impressive things about these young artists is how well they express themselves. There are so many possibilities if these shorts were made into feature-length features. It’s in that vein of thinking that one might find the prospect of witnessing original viewpoints that, in today’s noisy world of cinema, feel like the vital connections to more emotional moviegoers.

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