Penalty – Short Film Review

Penalty is a short film directed by Aldo Iuliano which so far has received over thirty film awards, including the Italian Golden Globe. The Italian director first began his career as a cartoonist. Since graduating university, he has already been recognised for his work. His award-winning short films include Fulgenzio, Natalino and La Lezione. Aldo has also worked in Television, he is a directing professor at the Film Academy of Romeur and is currently working on his first feature film.

Penalty shares the story of a group of guys playing football in the middle of nowhere. There is much more than a simple victory at stake.

The actors in the film are not professionals, but men who the director got to know after living alongside them. The cinematographer who worked on Penalty (Daniele Ciprì) is best known for his film, It Was the Son and was nominated for a ‘David di Donatello’ award at the Italian Academy for Cinema. The editor on this film (Marco Spoletini) won the ‘David di Donatello’ award for his work on Gomorrah. The Producer (Andrette Lo Conte) studied in Italy and went on to obtain her master’s degree in TV and Cinema at the Royal Holloway University of London. In 2013 she launched Freak Factory production company.

All of them came together to work on Penalty which for a short film of only 14 minutes holds a great amount of depth. The film opens with a stunningly beautiful wide shot, capturing the skies light and dark side, with men, stood in a field in what looks like the middle of nowhere. The beginning of the film features very powerful music that helps with setting the tone of what you’re about to witness. It then begins to fall silent, it stays silent for a while but this doesn’t take away from the intensity of the situation that’s unfolding.

The camera never reveals a lot of the action, it is as if they chose to hide the action of the football game that is being played. As it plays out you start to piece that this is no ordinary situation, this isn’t just a casual game of football there is something unusual about it all. It’s that feeling of leaving you out that somehow just entices you straight back. The director has an incredible understanding of making this come across through visual techniques alone.

There is a reason to why I am also holding back from revealing more information. As the films final message should not be spoiled. It’s a puzzle you’ll have to put together and think about on your own.

Penalty manages to increase tension and change the tone of the film as the narrative progresses. The focus is held on the game but without showing you parts of it, the only noise is the noise of the players and everyone seems to be on edge. Their performances, their expressions all add to the realism of tension that this film creates. The cinematographer truly captures the essence of the film’s tension as it ranges from wide to close shots. Within those close shots, you’ll see right into the player’s eyes and the sweat dripping of there heads as if it were a game that meant everything was at stake.

During the short film, you will learn the reasoning behind the game and it really explains a lot about what you are seeing and will have seen. It changes everything you were thinking about it and adds a whole new level to the film. There’s a lot to take in and process but the journey this film takes you on makes it worthwhile. Afterwards, you’ll be left questioning and speculating and with a passion to rewatch it again so you can truly appreciate the depth of this film with the new understanding you have gained. You’ll be able to understand why the goals are not celebrated instead they are feared.

Trailer for the short film –

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