Short of the Week

Fran’s Daughter

A short film about a woman who learns she may have been switched at birth.

Ted Hope, a legendary indie producer and newly-minted director of the San Francisco Film Society, once published a small booklet called “32 Qualities of Better Film.” It’s a sage little document I highly recommend for anyone interested in independent film.

Number 29 on his list is “leaving some things unexplained.” In it he states that “we certainly don’t know everything about our world, and leaving some gaps in the narrative feels truer as a result.”

Fran’s Daughter is a film about those gaps in our narratives. It’s a haunting little story about two women who learn they may have been switched at birth.

This could easily be a soap-opera, but with pitch-perfect performances, carefully choreographed cinematography, and excellent dialogue, Fran’s Daughter transcends its humble roots to become a taut and poignant narrative.

As someone who watches a lot of short films, it’s particularly refreshing to see one that shows such a clear understanding of what short films do best; a simple through line, a strong visual world (note the wallpaper in the house – perfect!), and a lingering question.

I first saw this film shortly before its premiere at the 2011 SXSW Film Festival. Seeing it again two years later did nothing to diminish its power.

The film creates a desire for knowledge, then leaves it unfulfilled – as life so often does. Perhaps this is the kind of truth that Ted Hope alludes to, the kind of which so many memorable films are made.

Jason B. Kohl is an Austrian/American filmmaker from Lansing, Michigan. His short films have played SXSW, Los Angeles, Locarno and been finalists for the Student Academy Awards. His first nonfiction book, a practical guide to film school, will be published by the Focal Press in 2015.
  • Dylan MD Bosman

    Truly one of the best shorts I’ve ever seen. Well done Jason.

  • DBerger

    very powerful, moving and the hint of possible truth is disturbing.great job!