Watching director Shahir Daud’s La Loteria is yet another reminder that a short film can deliver a feature’s worth of emotion in a minimal runtime. At just eight minutes, Daud constructs an impeccably paced tale about the irrational nature of love, and how it can compel us humans do the darndest things. Abounding with humor but supported by a tremendous amount of heart, La Loteria is the kind of film that can make even the staunchest of cynics melt.
If Daud’s name sounds familiar, it’s because his work has been featured on this site before. His previous short, Double Happy, is a nuanced and introspective coming-of-age tale about a boy who makes a tragic mistake. And, while La Loteria is significantly lighter in the drama department, it is equally well put together. Both films manage to capture the “little” moments in relationships—the small things that influence our interactions and how they, in turn, inform who we really are. In this film, we follow, Augusto, a lovable loser who has just won the US Greencard Lottery. Now, he must make a difficult decision about his future with his girlfriend of six months, Savanna.
Partially inspired by true personal events (though, Shahir is from New Zealand not the Dominican Republic), the film has a delightfully unique tone—hilarious one-second, touching the next. Amazingly, the humor never undermines the emotional core of the film. As cliché as it sounds, this is a film about the nonsensical, yet magical, nature of blind love, and how, even the craziest of beginnings can result in the happiest of endings.
Multinationalism is embedded in the film’s DNA. Written and directed by Daud (originally from New Zealand), featuring Puerto Rican and Swedish leads, set in the Dominican Republic—but shot in New York—La Loteria is truly a melting pot of creative talent. And, really, that’s fitting for film about matters of the heart. After all, love knows no cultural boundaries, nor does it give a lick about logic. In fact, Daud doesn’t even speak Spanish! He leaned on a producer of the film to help find Spanish actors in the hope of making a New York relevant story.
For a film that’s so undeniably cute, La Loteria could have easily become grating. But, Daud is too talented a storyteller to let that happen. Balanced by its tight structure, strong production values, and incredible sense of pace, it’s a film never wears out its welcome. Most amazing of all, it’s a short that has the power to make everything, even the crazy stuff (ahem…love), seem possible.
Not one to rest on his success, Daud is currently developing a feature film that will be shooting soon. Also, on the day he is launching this film, he is premiering a brand new music video for musician Nigel Stanford entitled, Cymatics. Check it out. Amazingly, all the effects in it are real!