Those who said “Do not leave a woman alone in her car” or “do not let a woman drive” might have been right in the case of Natalia Siwicka’s second short film “16.03”, a compelling and original psychological thriller that has been gaining traction on the film circuit ever since its premiere at this year’s New Horizons International Film Festival.
After spending the night with a man in a house in an empty landscape far from the city, a young woman wakes up as dawn begins to break. She dresses, gets into her car and drives off through villages, fields and woods. On the road, a strange truck follows her. For precisely 16 minutes and 3 seconds we enter the life of this individual who experiences a bizarre and unsettling situation on the road.
Inventive in its idea and execution, “16.03” deftly eschews the clichés of the road trip/hitchhiking film genre. The way Natalia Siwicka structures her short film is absolutely brilliant, making it as though we are traveling with her in the car; traveling with her emotions, thus involving us completely. We know something is terribly wrong but we do not know exactly what and we therefore feel, suffer and wonder with the protagonist. This is nimbly achieved not only by Siwicka’s clever and resourceful directing but also thanks to d.o.p Yann Seweryn’s handheld camera that follows her every move, every glance, every feeling and every facial expression. As the 16 minutes and 3 seconds elapse, her demeanor experiences a drastic shift also registered by an extremely brief musical moment. By the end of the short, there is nothing left of the confident and fearless young woman, only a fearful, almost helpless woman whose survival instinct has just kicked in. But, it is precisely this relatable character that makes “16.03” appealing to us and draws us into the story and to the edge of our seats.
“16.03” is 16 minutes and 3 seconds of sheer cinematic delight – a riveting, exquisite short film and a highly recommended watch.
Production: Cor Leonis Production (Poland 2016)
Producers: Marta Lachacz
Director: Natalia Siwicka
Screenplay: Natalia Siwicka
Cinematography: Yann Seweryn
Costume design: Patrycja Fitzet
Cast: Agnieszka Zulewska, Dariusz Toczek
Color – 16.03 min.
Premiere: 24/07/2016 (New Horizons International Film Festival)