Darka/The Dinner could of easily been a re-hash of most (normally evil) step-mother themed narratives, instead with like-able characters, this short has a tenderness that breathes a soft new light into a well know story.
Diana is a normal 16 year old girl, who lives with her younger sister and her dad. Her mother however, has passed away a few years earlier. This short takes place the night Diana’s father brings round his new girlfriend for the first time, along his brother and his wife presumably to diffuse the tension and add a bit of comic relief for the audience.
With themes of family, loss, grief and moving on, Darka/The Dinner is no way authentic. A step-mother meeting her husbands children for the first time is a scenario that has played out many times in literature, cinema and television. None the less, this was a pleasant surprise, the narrative included no stroppy teenagers, no try-to-hard stepmothers and no screaming matches across the dinner table -the staple setting for most familial conflicts.
The main success of Darka/The Dinner is the character of Diana, and the well-accomplished performance from young actress Erjeta Cufaj. She could of easily slipped into obnoxious child mode but instead she plays out Diana’s grief maturely and poignantly. With next to no dialogue for the character, bar the voice-over, Erjeta Cufaj uses her facial expressions to portray the anguish and loss of Diana captured through many a close-up.
The aesthetics of the film are muted, and look almost washed out and the hand-held camera work is shaky. This only adds to the atmosphere of the short.
A touching little film, which deals with grief naturally. With a winning performance from lead Erjeta Cufaj.
Watch all of the AltCineAction Festival shorts online here.