Andrew Wonders, “FERAL” premiered at the Sarasota Film Festival on Sunday. By all accounts, the stark contrast between the exquisite beauty of Manhattan and the dark realities of homelessness brought moviegoers to deep introspection. Tackling timely topics like deportation and its aftermaths including the struggles left behind for a daughter, “FERAL” laid out the bitter truths of street life.
A figurative and literal blizzard follows Yasmine as she navigates life under the tunnels of Manhattan at just 16-years-old when her mother is deported. Highly intelligent and outwardly beautiful, Yasmine encounters colorful characters along the way whom she is able to assist with weighted life problems such as aging, loneliness, and the burdens of certain life roles like being a mother. Though Yasmine is young and naïve she quickly becomes intensely resourceful doing whatever it takes including theft or befriending others for a hot meal or shower. Utilizing whatever she finds in the garbage or along the way, she demonstrates with ease the waste that people create.
Yasmine meets people at a mission who both irritate her with their insistence that she come in out of the cold and make a plan for her life and also touch her hardened heart. Yasmine jots down her thoughts and observations of life on the street along the pages of a worn and tattered book she has held onto, symbolic of how everything has a purpose for her. Fiercely independent, Yasmine finds it extremely difficult to accept the outwardly gestures of assistance from those at the mission. With a “Code Blue” looming over the city signifying the arrival deadly cold temperatures, Yasmine reluctantly settles in to the shelter, feeling more like a prisoner than a guest. Through the night she catches her roommate in the bunk above her with needles and drugs, the same mother who was lovingly bathing her baby just minutes earlier. The parallels of mothers leaving their children were poignantly portrayed and gently laid out the audience. In the end, Yasmine chose the harsh cold night in the middle of a blizzard and her own solitude to witnessing another mother’s demise.
Laced throughout the movie “FERAL” is a beautiful soundtrack full of jazz and blues, providing the auditory feelings to those that were fluttering in the hearts of the audience watching this somber yet graceful movie. Short interviews with other homeless individuals provided an overall picture of the absolute difficulty those living on the streets encounter. “FERAL” balances the beauty of young Yasmine and her strength of steel and the viewer is left rooting for her and hoping warmth envelops the cold spell she is living under.
Find all the films in the festival at sarasotafilmfestival.com.
Photo from imdb.com