Film Short Review

Zowie (Actress Malka Wallick) wants a publisher of adult novels for her children’s book which is thematically otherworldly and …

Regarding the accustomed Straight Up No Chaser Film Short Review, this reviewer has to get the following off his chest. It was five-minutes, 38-seconds into this marvel of a film – melancholic yet tempered with cosmic bliss – when I experienced the first swell of an unexpected rapture, brought on by scenes of the spoken-word-like-rapping of Zowie pitching to publishers of adult novels about a children’s book she wants published.

Her main character may be the only character, and she is a girl whose superpowers are diminishing, and who frequently falls on the floor or to the ground like a klutz at certain moments in the time-space continuum. Audiences need to be ready to deal with otherworldly themes in this film. Sometimes the distressed heroine of Zowie’s book levitates to relieve stress. And her sister can, poof, suddenly show up to lecture her about the meaning of life and getting one with her life. And then disappear in a poof. Her novel may be fiction, may be nonfiction. It smacks of a memoir. [Oooo, uh oh, did I boo-boo a spoiler?] And so it goes.

The description above may make it sound as if the weirdly name klutz. (I can’t get over the period at the end of the film title) is whimsically silly. The story would probably be goofy or fumblingly demented in the hands of less capable filmmakers – instead of the superb story telling that it is.

The book publishers couldn’t digest, didn’t appreciate an iota of what Zowie was rapping, though all, but one, in a staccato-style series of scenes of meetings of them rejecting the book (while minimalizing what I suspect is their usual sanctimonious disdain for struggling writers who also may be out of this world eccentric).

[That Zowie was even able to schedule a meeting with them seemed somewhat unreal to this reviewer. Those of us who pitch books, movies, ideas and whatever else, can empathize – maybe.] One book person, however, in a marvelously acted and scripted scene of book publisher meetings, was so vain, smug and dismissive that I imagined at that moment reaching into the Vimeo screener and ripping the smugness off her face – figuratively speaking of course. I cite this because there are many scenes that touched my buttons and audiences should be ready to have theirs touched too – sometimes a subtle touch, other times not so subtle, maybe a poke here and there. ]

Zowie, during one of her frequent trancendental moments.

Yet, this reviewer, too, stumbled. At first with the opening scenes of Zowie walking on a beach as a bicycle rim wheels passed her, and she doesn’t even blink, and then later at home, Zowie being lectured by her sister, Lida, about the meaning of life (sort of) and, poof, Lida just ups and disappears. A tip off about Reality vs The Unreality?

And I couldn’t make literal sense of Zowie’s spoken-word-rapping. But then, Vavoom! Viscerally – that’s how it happened, as if my subconscious and unconscious merged serendipitously to facilitate a mind, body and soul melding allowing me to understood what was going on with Zowie in klutz.

Left to right: One of those cosmic moments of Lida (Actress Mara Kassin) being a big sister to Zowie (Actress Malka Wallick).

No one, I’m exaggerating for effect but not that much, can deny that this  14-minutes of a filmmaking wonder is timely. The angst* of these pandemic times faded away for this reviewer, temporarily, of course, as he screened, though it ambled back as the pleasant high I had experienced faded over the course of time after the credits, as if I was in the movie, and, then, poof, back in Jersey City.

Zowie’s book is her way of coming to terms with death and the grief it can cause and the unpredictable vagaries of life in grimly wrenching times. Other critics luv this 14-minute short – it’s irresistible visually, poetically sonic and, of course, viscerally – and they believe Zowie is undergoing a mental crisis because her sister, Lida, played by Mara Kassin, is dead and there’s Zowie hallucinating that she’s alive. Not as a spook but alive. Thus, Zowie’s touching, holding and conversing with Lida is imaginary. Not me. They’re stuck in a strictly temporal reality. It’s inexplicable what state Zowie may be in but it’s real, and this reviewer is quite comfortable that Lida is alive when she’s with Zowie – because Zowie is invigorated by her sister showing up for her.

This film couldn’t have been more timely and – Vavoom – the filmmakers did it in 14 minutes.

*[Pandemic Angst: Thoughts, memories, “Breaking News” headlines about death, dying and the sick as well as brawls about wearing and not-wearing the mask; and practicing-not-practicing social distancing; also shooting, stabbing and other felonies in streets and on public transportation, boosters-no-boosters, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. {I must round-trip commute a lot on the PATH from Jersey City, New Jersey, to the Big Apple and am always on security lookout for trouble.}]



Straight No Chaser

Audiences Should Know: Girl Gang Production(s) is dedicated to telling electrifying stories that disrupt and defy societal expectations of the female narrative both on stage and on camera. Girl Gang Production(s) is dedicated to helping empower girls to find their voices and remind them that their narratives are there to be created, by them, for the world.

Impressive performances by Mara Kassin and Malka Wallick. Supporting cast includes Broadway, TV and film veterans Sanjit De Silva, Florencia Lozano, Angel Desai, Geneva Carr, Geoffrey Owens and Wai Ching Ho.

Michelle Bossy is a Mexican-American theater, television, and film director. Her films have premiered at the Austin Film Festival, St. Louis International Film Festival, Dances with Films, LA Shorts International Film Festival, and the Female Eye Film Festival, among dozens of others.  Her films include: 18, She Grinds Her Own Coffee, The New 35, Friendly Neighborhood Coven, Ladies Lounge, Miracle Baby, Incurable, klutz, Chance of Showers, and The Trespassed.

She directed music videos for the band Yassou and singer/songwriter Brooke Josephson.  Michelle directed the web series, There’s a Special Place in Hell for Fashion Bloggers, and the kids’ show The Broadway Babies Show.

Theater – Bossy has directed in New York and internationally, includes, There and Back, Sex with Strangers, Every Good Girl Deserves Fun, Sex of the Baby, Cloven Tongues, Un Plugged In, South Beach Rapture, and Sarajevo’s Child.  Michelle co-created the musical High School Confidential for Primary Stages, where she was the Associate Artistic Director.

More About Bossy

Instagram for Bossy


Malka Wallick. Executive Producer and cast member. Founder and Executive Producer at Girl Gang Production(s). Her pilot, “Our Bodies & Other Shames,” was a semi-finalist with the ScreenCraft Pilot competition and the Golden Script Competition. It is currently in the second round of considerations for the top 100 of the Launchpad Pilot Competition. She has also written, produced, and acted with Bad Guru Productions (“Our Bodies and Other Shames” short, “Bachelorette, Bachelorette”). Malka was the Artistic Director of the Rogue & Peasant Players, a NYC based Shakespeare company and has been performing in NYC for nearly a decade.

She grew up in the Modern Orthodox community in Brooklyn, NY. As a queer woman, she bridges the gap between her upbringing and her art. As an artist she is committed to using her voice to empower young girls. Her work is about expanding and exploring female narratives that push boundaries and raise questions about what it means to be a woman today. Malka is a member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA.
Walllick, click here.
Instagram Wallick


Mara Kassin. Producer, cast member: This past year, she produced and acted in several upcoming narrative podcasts. Her recent award-winning films EXTRA INNINGS, LADIES LOUNGE and FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD COVEN, can be found on Amazon Prime. She co-produced Shawn Christensen’s CURFEW, which won an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short. Mara starred in and co-produced, GRANDMA’S NOT A TOASTER

Premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. She co-starred, wrote & produced her award-winning directorial debut, NOW OR LATER, which screened at dozens of film festivals. Recent film credits include DATA RECOVERY, KLUTZ, THE ONLY BEAUTIFUL THING, CUL DE SAC, and BEFORE I DISAPPEAR. Selected theatre credits include works by Elizabeth Irwin, Halley Feiffer, Heidi Schreck, Anna Ziegler, Erica Saleh, and Caroline McGraw. Member of AMPAS, SAG-AFTRA & AEA.


About Elizabeth Narciso. klutz. writer: Also an actor and filmmaker living in New York City. Her stage plays have been finalists and semi-finalists for the Woodward/Newman Award, TheatreWorks New Works Festival, the American Shakespeare Center, The O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, the Princess Grace Awards, Blue Ink Award and nominated for the Lark Venturous Playwright Fellowship. She is a writer member of The Actor’s Studio, José Rivera’s writer’s group, as well as Dorset Theatre Festival’s Women Artists Writing. She is a co-founder of Girl Gang Production(s) and member of the Dramatist Guild of America. Click here for

About Jonathan Chekroune. Cinematographer. Producer, Director. Lives in New York City. Best known as Director of the award winning short film, SASHA (2016), for which he was featured in the Cannes Short Film Corner (2016). He works in both narrative and commercial film. As a cinematographer he has filmed locally and internationally for commercial clients including: Jeep, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Christie’s Auction House. Selected credits include: Sasha (Executive Producer/ Director) Perspective (Director), Forgotten Patient (Cinematographer), Reflection (Cinematographer), Bacardi: Drink to Remember (Cinematographer), Einstein: The God Letter (Cinematographer).

About Estelle Bajou. Composer. A NY Innovative Theatre Award-winning Actor, Drama Desk Award-nominated Composer, Writer, Director, and Educator. A first-generation French-American raised in a furniture factory town in the North Carolina mountains, she’s trekked across North, Central, and South America, Europe, and the Middle East, including Iraq, for projects, and is now based in The Bronx.

Broadway: Once. TV: “Boardwalk Empire”; Ken Burns’ “Prohibition”. Feature Film: Charming the Hearts of Men; Spielberg’s The Post; Chaplin of the Mountains; subHysteria; Fireworkers; Beneath Disheveled Stars. Short Film: Starring Austin Pendleton; Lullaby for Ray; Broke, Henry Buys a Hat. Theatre: PS122, Edinburgh Fringe, LaMaMa, 59E59, 14th St Y, New Ohio, NJ Rep, FringeNYC, Under St. Marks, Shadowland, A.R.T. Oberon, Barrow Street, three National Tours, et al. At 19, she earned a BA in Theatre and Creative Writing from Bard College at Simon’s Rock. She then earned an MFA in Acting from the School of Drama at The New School in New York City.


Gregg W. Morris can be reached at,