[S]ometimes religion creates identities that divide us against each other more than connecting us with God. Witness seven gripping minutes inside a train that will make you think about identity, religion, fear and freedom with Strangers.
The entire story of Strangers is told through silence, eye contact and symbols. While a train races within the subway walls of Paris, sitting inside peacefully is an Arab man reading a newspaper. Another man gets into the train and gives the Arab a cold shoulder. He is wearing a locket with a Jewish symbol. Both men have formed their biases by now. While the Jew and the Arab exchange cold glances, a bunch of scary looking men occupy seats around the two men. One of them sprays the symbol of Nazism on the Muslim’s newspaper. By now the audience realizes that the grizzly men are Neo-Nazis (skinheads). They start troubling the Arab. Meanwhile, the Jew hides his symbolic locket and watches in silence. He is about to get off the train unharmed when his phone starts ringing. His ringtone is a common Jewish tune which gives the Neo-Nazis a new target to crush. The Jew makes quick eye contact with the Arab and they unite to save themselves. Motivated by survival instincts, they come together to escape their fears; and find themselves escaping their biases too. Once of out danger, their bond is one formed out of going through the same situation together. They walk away their separate ways, learning a little more about life.
This short is a courageous take on religious identity written and directed by Israeli film makers from Tel Aviv; Guy Nattiv and Erez Tadmor. It mirrors mistrust, prejudice and hate seeded by politics and religion. It calls out to the basic human nature of bonding with a stranger in times of need. Haters turn to helpers when they realize that the only way out is with each other.
Strangers, which won the online short film festival at Sundance Film Festival, tells its tale with pulse raising close shots and hard hitting sound. Strangers will give the audience a fresh perspective of the times we live in and leave them with an enriching experience far from the mainstream stories that we are often used to.
Archana Iyer is a short film enthusiast, scriptwriter, poet and account planner in an ad agency.