I walked into the theater ever so slightly confused. After skimming through the NFFTY (National Film Festival for Talented Youth) catalog of hundreds of films, I wondered: what was tonight’s screening, “Powerful Grit,” actually going to be about? As the lights dimmed, I prepared to “buckle [my] eyebelts” as the show description advised. Whatever that meant. However, after watching the screening, I can now define the phrase with confidence: It’s the feeling of peeking out from underneath a blanket when the monster in a horror movie finally emerges; it’s the anxiety one gets when a roller coaster delays right before it plummets; and it’s that combination of excitement and dread that I imagine occurs during the plane ride up to go skydiving.
The screening began with Baby by Vincent D’Alessandro, Kirsten Pasewaldt, and Finley King. It is the story of a single mother, her expectations, and eventual revolt alongside her young, tiara-crowned daughter Baby. Though it has a relatively simple story-line compared to subsequent films in the screening, what stands out is the film’s immersive first-person shots—when Baby runs, the camera follows. When she falls, we fall too. This left a lingering sense of intimacy before being thrown headfirst into the vulnerable and melancholic world of You’re Still Here by Katayoun Parmar.