Fireflies (2017) short film review

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A Middle Eastern man’s frequent visits to a small Boston cafe soon become scrutinised by a waiter and other patrons in the powerful short ‘Fireflies’. Check out our review.

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With what has been happening in the world recently, Fireflies couldn’t be more appropriately timed and relevant if it tried. Marwan (Essam Ferris) is a Middle Eastern man who spends his time in between his hotel room and a quirky little cafe in Boston. In fact, he spends so many days going back and forth from hotel to cafe, that the cafe waiter has been keeping a track of his visits by marking off a calender. It’s not only the waiter who scrutinises Marwan’s visits, but also the cafe’s other patrons, who look at him with contempt.

Director Raouf Zaki opted to tell the story of Marwan using as little dialogue as possible, making Fireflies are very visual-based short film, that hits as hard as a Mike Tyson left hook. Using visual clues and flashbacks to Marwan’s life in the Middle East, Zaki manages to fit in a huge story into a clever and emotional short film. In fact, everything about Fireflies screams ‘professional’.

The cinematography from Kenn Gonnerville is sublime; from the neon red hotel sign lighting up Marwan’s hotel room, to the elegant use of the camera during all the cafe and flashback scenes, Fireflies seems to have the same rich production values as a large budget Hollywood movie, which is incredibly hard to achieve in short film form. As well as being emotionally invested in the film, one of my first thoughts whilst viewing the short for the first time was ‘these guys are really good’. Zaki seems to have pulled together a crew of exceptional talents.fireflies poster 691x1024 Fireflies (2017) short film review

In order for a short like Fireflies to really work, you need a strong performance from the lead, especially since there is a distinct lack of dialogue to play with, and Ferris truly delivers. As Marwan, Essam Ferris injects a level of vulnerability into the character, both when the character is in Boston and during the flashback scenes when he and his family are trying to escape his war-torn country. His performance really is something to behold. Whilst Fireflies is certainly Marwan’s story, Ferris is surrounded by some fantastic support, with all the actors performing to a high standard.

When I first read the log line for the short film, I initially wondered why it was called ‘Fireflies’ but, without giving anything away about the ending, I can assure you all that the title is certainly apt.

Fireflies is a powerful and emotional short film that should garner numerous awards in 2017. With top performances and direction, the awards will be absolutely deserved. Incredible work.


5 / 5 stars     

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