Short Film Sunday: Portraits

Portraits is a short film anthology told in vignettes of five women, each embodying a part of ourselves we’re not proud of. All of them remarkable relatable. They explore the concept of ‘curated selves’, the versions we show to the world versus who we really are. You’d expect to connect to one secret, not them all. Perhaps it’s just me, or we’re not as unique as we’d like to think. Everyone wants what they fear, what they can’t have, what isn’t theirs. We want to set right the wrongs and find the words to stop.

We are all flawed. We create these personas thinking they’ll protect us, instead they protect everyone else from our turmoil. Because we are taught not to show weaknesses, so that others can’t exploit. Instead, we exploit them ourselves to keep a distance. Cage ourselves to feel safe.

What would the world become if we all broke free?

Hearing it from the mouths of others is unsettling. They are setting our secrets free along with their own. Each is alone, only they aren’t. We are with them. Bonded by a common hidden truth. This is accented by the shared imagery in the central narrative, Vigilante. The three are alone in time but in the same room. Different walks of life with the same feelings about humanity. Isn’t it shocking to realize how similar people who have no right having anything in common can be? Almost as though primal urges don’t dissipate upon contact with the labels society places upon us or those we adopt for ourselves.

Isn’t that why friends we can be honest with are so precious? Because without them, the moments when we can be ourselves are rare and lonely. Our secrets seem shameful.

Visually, the films are relatively mundane, minimizing emotional distance. Like you’re sitting in the same room with them. These are the vlogs that exist in the moments when the camera is off. The truths behind that facade of perfection. They are the hours spent crying over a life made to appear perfect for all but those who live it.

We spend so long living for others, that we lose sight of who we are for ourselves. Ripping down that curtain isn’t easy but it encourages you to ponder what the mask you wear says about you and if, perhaps, it’s overstayed its welcome.

If you’re in the London area, you can see Portraits in its entirety at the official Premiere, 17 September at 6:30 pm. More info at

A huge thank you to producer/director, Amani Zardoe for allowing me to the opportunity to view these films and share some thoughts about their importance. You can see more of her work at

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