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By midlandsmovies, Mar 30 2018 02:55PM

Witness (2018) Dir. Sheikh Shahnawaz

This 6-minute drama short comes courtesy of Midlands director, screenwriter & producer Sheikh Shahnawaz.

Co-founder of video production company Lacuna Video, Birmingham-based Sheikh has worked in the industry for a number of years producing not just corporate videos but a collection of drama shorts too.

In his latest film Witness, we are told a robbery has gone wrong and two crooks need to decide what to do with the remaining witness. Opening on a man in a warehouse we see that the witness is strapped and bound to a chair (very Reservoir Dogs) and my only hope in this first scene is that he keeps his ear!

On a more serious note, the technical aspects are well-crafted with hand-held camera work being a suitable stylistic choice giving a sense of realism to the piece. A simple black and white costume palette helps us quickly identify who the victim and tormentors are – which is an absolute key concept in short films when time is at a precious premium.

The story then moves along at pace as the duo discuss their proposed solutions before a phone call comes in from their boss who wants the desperate hoods to get rid of their hostage.

With bouts of explosive violence, the criminals consider their options knowing that their robbery would quickly become murder if they follow through with their boss's request. Shooting is off the table owing to noise, whilst a bloody knife attack is dismissed owing to the mess. They therefore feel strangulation is their final option.

The actors themselves do a lot with their short appearances. Nisaro Karim’s brooding stares work well against his partner in crime (Liam Millard) who shows concern and doubts with mere looks.

Sam Malley as the hostage doesn’t have a lot to do but the audience feels for him with his bloodied face and sweating tears.

Tarantino is the obvious parallel (Reservoir Dogs especially) but the filmmaker knows how to infuse the material with some Brummie flavour. Although I saw the twist in the tale coming from afar, it was delivered well by Sheikh in a quickly edited conclusion.

With high quality across the board the only down-side was the slight familiarity of the tale. However, with its compact run time I can see Witness doing fantastically well on the local festival circuit. And it comes as a great calling card for a director I’ve only just recently been introduced to. But one I will certainly be keeping an eye out for in future.

Midlands Movies Mike

Check out the entire short below on YouTube and let us know your thoughts as well.

Follow Sheikh on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cinesheikh

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