Little Brother

By Cyrus Saidi and Gautam Pinto | Sci-Fi
A young woman speaks out against a tyrannical government. There are consequences.

Jane is an activist, best-selling author and a Nobel nominee who speaks out against the tyrannical government of Iran. She has been persecuted in the past and is now an ex-pat, but when she travels back to Iran to gives a no-holds-barred interview on TV, the very government she speaks out against decides to take action.

Little do they know, however, that Jane has a powerful weapon at her disposal. And with its aid, Jane will throw the latest salvo in the war against oppression, exposing the secret actions of the government in a way no one anticipated.

Written and directed by Cyrus Saidi and Gautam Pinto, this short sci-fi thriller plays for high stakes, blending incendiary dialogue, committed performances and provocative ideas in a fast-moving, ambitious narrative. It charts the rise and fall of an activist committed to speaking out at any cost against an oppressive government that commits human rights violations with impunity.

The film has a visual sleekness and coolly futuristic sheen, with dynamic camerawork and a chilly color palette, but ultimately this is a story of ideas, using the centerpiece of a high-profile media interview to explore its main character's rhetoric of freedom, rebellion and revolution. Interwoven throughout the interview are detours into Jane's dark, haunting memories, mixing past and present along with Jane's inner landscape and her actions in the world, particularly as they rub up against the government's growing repression against its people.

Actor Natalie Brown plays Jane with a righteous conviction, with a steeliness at her core. She's charismatic, and we can see as an audience why she serves as the face of opposition to terror. When she makes a crucial choice -- essentially a sacrifice -- in service of her cause, it's believable even though it is extreme. After the bombshells of her high-profile interview, she faces yet another interrogation -- and another sacrifice to make for her beliefs.

Thought-provoking and engaging, "Little Brother" was shot in 20--. But it resonates with current events now, with political rebellion fomenting in Iran, proving that the film's heroine and her rhetoric of rebellion and revolution are almost prophetic in their power. But, taking advantage of its non-linear storytelling, the film is also astute in examining the role of technology in exposing the corruption of the system and those in power. The ability to capture and then transmit almost instantly evidence of political abuses of power has ignited many recent revolutions around the world, including current-day Iran. Though surveillance can be turned against people, its tools can also be appropriated for justice and truth -- and keeping the flames of hope alive, even when they seem to be dying out.

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