Jamil McGinnis & Pat Heywood’s short film Gramercy – Review

Depression is grief that silently suffocates its victims with a feeling of sorrow that’s challenging to communicate, hard to accept, and difficult for loved ones to comprehend. Directors Pat Heywood and Jamil McGinnis, give voice to the silent demon in Gramercy, a story following a young man battling depression, who returns to his hometown in New Jersy searching for meaning. 

Easily hidden behind a forced smile the strifes Shaq battle slowly imprison him within the confines of his mind. McGinnis and Heywood inspire audiences to question past and future encounters with their loved ones, with greater awareness by directing Shaq’s friend’s lock viewers within their gaze; the overwhelming emotions of transparency, vulnerability, and liberation from genuinely being seen translate across the screen.

Heywood and McGinnis refuse to glamourise the mental disorder and depict it in its entirety, a perpetual self-isolation that slowly withers away at its prey. Depression sequesters victims from every joy-inducing aspect of life. Clever directing exhibited Shaq’s world in a dismal grey hue, while his imagination screened in colour. Shaq’s disconnection blurred his appreciation for life and watching him peacefully lie in the grass next to his fallen friend connects internally with audiences. His solace grew appealing; revealing the temptation of sufferers to leave the pain of life behind.  

The film pays honour to the millions who battle mental disorders in private and those who were defeated. Similar to Shaq, sometimes we want to cover our faces with plastic bags until our vision blurs, to feel a jolt of emotion separate from sadness. When Shaq’s friend lost his composure, his care for the man glimmered, and in a moment of honesty, Shaq’s true feelings unveiled. The film emphasises that with help and awareness, depression is manageable no longer a strife fought alone.

Writer/ director Pat Heywood and producer Jamil McGinnis are not shy about collaborating. Gramercy signifies their fourth short film made together. Produced under the name Seneca Village Pictures Heywood and Mcginnis have screenings on PBS, Nowness, Tidal, NPR, NoBudge, the New Orleans Film Festival, Rhode Island International Festival, The Lincoln Center, and the Walker Art Center. The combined talents of the two have secured them great success, propelling them into a long and fruitful career.    


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