Curfew, a film by Shawn Christensen that received the Live Action Short Film Oscar as well as over 40 international awards has made its way to Lakecity International Short Film Festival (LISFF). Written, acted and directed by Shawn Christensen, Curfew is the story of Richie a depressed man who at the lowest point of his life, gets a call from his estranged sister, asking him to look after his nine-year old niece, Sophia, for a few hours one evening.
Hailed as one of those short films where the characters are so well drawn, convincing acting, and the environment is so fully realized that these characters seem to exist well outside of the parameters of the brief film they’re in; Curfew starts off with Richie in the process of ending his life in a bathtub, when he gets a call from his estranged sister, Maggie, asking him to look after his niece, Sophia, for the night. Richie cancels his plans and sets out to babysit his niece. When he meets Sophia, she makes it clear that she has no interest in talking to him, nor does she seem to care much about him. Richie mentions that he drew flipbooks when he was younger, starring a protagonist named “Sophia”, and that he wonders if his sister got Sophia’s name from those flipbooks. He then takes Sophia to an old rundown building where he used to live, and finds the flipbooks he wants to show her, but Sophia gets scared and wants to go home.
After Richie apologizes, they return to the bowling alley and Sophia starts asking all about his life. They start to become friends, and Richie admits that the reason he hasn’t been allowed to see her all these years, is because he once dropped Sophia on her head while taking care of her as a baby. Sophia finds this incident amusing, just as her favorite song comes on over the loudspeakers. Suddenly, everyone in the bowling alley seems to be dancing along with the song, except for Richie. Sophia begs him to dance with her, tugging at his arm until his wrist comes out of its sleeve, revealing his suicide attempt. Richie snaps back to reality.
When Richie brings Sophia back home, he notices a restraining order sitting on the kitchen table, citing assault and harassment. His sister comes back looking bruised and she thanks Richie for his help, but she wants him to leave. She doesn’t want her daughter having any more “false idols”. Richie tells her how much he looked up to her when they were younger, and how much he still looks up to her now. He returns home to his bathtub, and attempts to continue what he started in the beginning. But Maggie interrupts him with a phone call again, this time on nicer terms.
A vibrant masterpiece in 19 minutes, it was imperative that this winning short be developed into a feature and take it forward. With such a huge response, Shawn is all set to convert this short into a feature film that pulsates with life and energy and refuses to put simple Band-Aids on complex problems, instead choosing to celebrate life in all of its messy glory,
Actor, writer and director Shawn Christensen graduated from Pratt Institute with a BFA in Illustration and Graphic Design. After graduating, he formed indie rock band Stellastarr and, while on tour, wrote and sold many screenplays, including Sidney Hall (Scott Free Productions) and Karma Coalition (Warner Bros.). His short film Brink, was an Official Selection of the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival and won “Best Festival Film of the Year” by ShortOfTheWeek.com. His latest short film, Curfew, has won over 40 awards in Film Festivals around the world and has currently won the Best Live Action Short Film at the 85th Academy Awards.