A Mother's Barricade Against a Harsh World

Arts & Culture

Pictured: Behind The Scenes: Molly Smith Lioness Film. Photo by Eli Dreyfuss.

A mother’s protection, a child’s innocence, the cruel realities of the outside world - all of these themes are punctuated in Orlando local producer/writer/actress Sara Oliva and Orlando native, Molly E. Smith’s short film, Lioness, which premiered at the Sarasota Film Festival this week. The eight-minute short film is a part of the Female Led Florida Narrative Short Film category and focuses on a mother - a survivor of domestic violence - barricading herself and her young daughter in a motel room for their own safety.

Sara Oliva, who wrote, produced, and stars in the film as the mother, was initially inspired by the film’s location - a sketchy motel somewhere in Florida - from her time spent on a commercial shoot years before. “It’s just this bizarre space and I started thinking of what kind of people would come here and what their stories might be,” says Oliva.

Oliva’s time spent volunteering at a domestic violence shelter is what ultimately propelled her to write Lioness and begin the path to production. “I saw a woman, who had clearly been a recent victim of domestic violence, pay no mind to her bruises while preparing a Thanksgiving meal. She had stuff to do, there was a feast to prepare and joy to be brought to the table. Once I’d witnessed that, the story for Lioness - the beginning, middle, and end - had all taken place,” attests Oliva.

Lioness features an all-female cast and nearly all-female crew including the director, cinematographer, and editor Molly E. Smith - who was a Senior in high school at the time of shooting - and up and coming actress Lily Jane. The film runs for only eight short minutes, yet still manages to pack in a complete story. “There’s only one line of dialogue in the entire film. The whole film consists of mostly images - when doing short films you cannot be extraneous when using language. In Lioness you can really capture the tenderness and might of a moment without using words,” says Oliva.

“Lioness” premiered at the Sarasota Film Festival on April 6th. The short-film can be screened virtually throughout the duration of the festival: https://www.sarasotafilmfestival.com/film/lioness/

Pictured: Behind The Scenes: Molly Smith Lioness Film. Photo by Eli Dreyfuss.

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