If writer/director Doug Roland isn’t careful, his short film Feeling Through might find itself diminishing the plight of the homeless simply by comparing someone living that experience with someone who is “worse off.” That’s the inherent danger of sentences like “Someone always has it worse.” While meant to be emboldening, these sentiments sometimes forget how your suffering is also real. So rather than focus on the differences separating a man who’s desperate to find a couch to crash on for the night like Tereek (Steven Prescod) and a middle-aged deaf and blind man like Artie (Robert Tarango), Roland mines through their respective struggles to unearth the similarity that binds them. Because if there’s one thing every human should know, asking for help doesn’t imply weakness. It reveals strength.
And despite Artie being stranded by the side of the road unless someone is willing to see him, read his sign, and give him their time to escort him where he needs to go, Tereek is the one who finds himself in direr straits. Why? Because he could have found a bed for the night if he asked. If he allowed himself to be vulnerable enough to tell the people he texts “why” rather than casually making it seem like he has other options, their “Nos” might have become “Yeses.” But he doesn’t. He pretends everything is fine and sits away from the friends who bought him food so he can scarf it down without the embarrassment that comes with admitting he hasn’t eaten all day.
On the flip side is Artie—a man with a smile on his face and unyielding trust in his heart. His survival is reliant upon the help of strangers and he believes they’ll provide it. Where Tereek hides his truth from those closest to him, Artie lets the world know his. So when the young man taps him on the shoulder to let him know he’ll guide him to the bus stop, Artie simply reacts as though nothing is amiss. That we don’t know how long he’s waited for that tap is the point. Whether five minutes or five hours, Artie patiently stood there with confidence that someone would come. If that’s not strength, I don’t know what is. And there’s no way Tereek doesn’t see it too.
The result is a powerfully dramatic release of his indoctrinated self-sufficiency. Tereek has been traveling through this night (and presumably much longer) with the notion that his inability to dig out of the hole he finds himself in renders him a failure. That’s how he looks at panhandlers begging for change. He tells himself that “self-respect” is keeping him from becoming another bum on the street when the truth is far more complex. To therefore put his ego aside and live for this other soul—even for just an hour—may ultimately become the most profound moment of his life. To see Artie’s courage is to recognize his own fear. Charity isn’t a crutch. It’s a necessity we all inevitably must accept since no one truly succeeds alone.
courtesy of ShortsTV