The Oak Tree
Directed by Ethan Jahan | Review by Terra Budreviciute
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he beauty of films like The Oak Tree is that they deliver a compelling story while teaching an important lesson and giving you a choice, while providing a solid resolution. Surely, many people in today’s world grew up in some sort of religious background. Many of us had grandmothers, mothers or aunts who had strange beliefs and customs we made fun of as kids but grew fond of and possibly even adopted as adults. In our youth, around teenage years, we lived through some sort of revolution, that either brought us closer to those customs or diverged us from them entirely. Masterfully, Jahan’s film tells a very similar story.
The short’s premise is basic: a man has to cchooseeither between the village’s faith or his trade. But as we move along the story with the protagonist, Fadel, we discover that it’s not only about what he believes, but also about what the others believe in and about what others can pressure into him. Here he has a choice between a customer who trusted him and a village who wants to worship a tree, that in their right, has been marked by angels. Like a teenager, Fadel is faced with a choice – either his go with faith or lose it, entirely. I won’t reveal much about the end of the film, but suffice it to say – it leaves you both satisfied and questioning. Possibly due to Ghazi Rabihavi’s simple, yet charming and sophisticated writing that this ending comes to us in acceptance.
Many man versus faith stories fail to deliver, especially those presented on small screen, but Rabihavi manages to focus our attention to accentuate our own journey through faith. Even if you never experienced a spiritual crisis, the presentation of The Oak Tree will make you understand exactly what kind of feeling it is and why is it so important to humanity as a whole. Rabihavi also shows other interesting personal dilemmas, such as choosing your way over tradition, being peer pressured and staying sane, when others might view you as a little crazy. Those minute things tied together make for a wonderful story.
The second biggest praise should go to Ethan Jahan, who directed this wonderful short. The vision he had for his film is clear and concise, helping Rabihavi’s story become much more than just a page in another book of faith. It is through his talent at delivering emotion to the screen through lighting, cinematography and acting direction that we see a story develop. Keeping in mind that this is just a short film, we may expect great things from Ethan Jahan in the future.
The third most important part of this story is the cast. All of the people who worked on this film are phenomenal, truly developing simplistic, yet charming characters and gracing the screen with their large presence. It is a shame that most short film actors are often neglected and forgotten, especially those who come from international waters. It is our duty, then, to recognize these people and give them praise when it’s due. This film may not be “acting Olympics” and it may have a simple heart, but it wouldn’t be half as beautiful if it didn’t have these guys starring it in. All actors in the film delivered wonderful performances and it would be an utter shame for them to be forgotten.
Overall, this was a wonderful little film that deserves acclaim and recognition. Sure, it is a simple story, but it’s extremely relatable and told in a fashion that is new, yet close enough to home to hit us all. After all, even years later, we must remember our roots – this film serves exactly that.
Rimute Terra Budreviciute is a filmmaker, actress and singer from Lithuania. She has been a part of numerous stage and TV musicals in her home country. She is a graduate of Alytus Music School and has been a member of pop group “O Lia Lia” for 3 years before coming out to United States to study acting at American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Since then she has been working on multiple short films and plays.